Fleet boss implements radical update for Fiat
01 May 2007
Author: Tristan Young
New Fiat and Alfa Romeo fleet boss Adam Pumfrey is to bring in sweeping changes to the manufacturer's structure and approach to company car sales.
Pumfrey claims the brands will effectively re-launch in the fleet market. "Fiat is strong in the A- and B-sectors [city cars and superminis], which are mainly retail sales. With the Bravo coming through we have a proper fleet car, and Alfa's product line-up is the best we've had ever.
"I have a three-year plan, because you can't work short term in this market."
Pumfrey, who moved from Mazda at the start of this year, will initially add an extra three corporate sales managers to the existing five. He is also setting up a fleet service centre to support the corporate sales operation and admits this operation will be similar to that used by Mazda and parent company Ford.
"This will be developed in 2007 and fully working in 2008," added Pumfrey.
Pumfrey is currently looking for 15 Fiat fleet specialist dealers and has so far had 31 apply.
"The number isn't totally fixed," he said. "As we go into 2008 we will also put in a network of small business dealers working with the fleet specialist dealers.
"The 15 will have to have the ability to fund cars and manage business sales. This includes an individual dedicated to that area. We will support with training."
Pumfrey said the attitude of the dealer to the long-term nature of the fleet business was also important. "There's an expectation from some that if you appoint a fleet specialist then they quickly bring back lots of cars. It takes six months to get going and 12 to really get going in the market. Monthly and quarterly objectives are not right."
Pumfrey added that the same set-up would apply to Alfa Romeo, but with a network of "five or six" Alfa fleet specialist dealers.
Fiat's push starts with the launch of the Bravo in June.
"We've segmented the market into three areas. In the 100-200 car market we've got a demo car programme with the aim of getting 1000, 48-hour test drives. An agency is sending out the cars, following up, then the details are sent to the dealer and then the agency does a follow-up call," said Pumfrey.
For 200-500 car fleets Fiat is planning to run 250 "merchandising tours where two cars will be sent to businesses for a morning or an afternoon". Pumfrey said one of the cars will be used for test drives and the other will be a static car for 'walk-rounds'.
"For the 500-car plus fleets we'll do the full corporate day, a branded trailer for one or two days and 12 cars.
"Our aim for selling cars is a 15-20% hit rate - so we'd hope to sell 150 cars for 1000 test drives."
Beyond getting bums on seats Pumfrey is also looking to improve communications with the business car market.
Pumfrey pointed out that getting the cost information to the RV experts months ahead of a car's launch meant a quicker start to sales through leasing firms, which need this info to generate a lease rate.
"We haven't been talking to people, in some cases, for years. We're recruiting a contact hire manager to work with the top 25 lease companies, and another for the next 50, to support the process of RV communication."
Pumfrey has also increased dialogue with the "market makers" at lease companies and RV guides.
"We want to talk to them about SMR and to look at RVs in relationship to pricing - we've not done that before."