Decoding Courtesy Delivery
When talking about the courtesy delivery experience and waiting to pick up a new vehicle, one fleet manager said: “Being surrounded by dealerships with vehicles on the lot… it’s like sitting in the ocean — water all around, but nothing to drink.” Sound familiar?
The truth is that fleet managers and drivers alike experience challenges when it comes to courtesy delivery. It’s hard not to ask the question, “Why is it taking so long?”
The first and most important thing to understand is that fleet – for better or worse — is not like retail. According to Automotive Fleet data, fleet sales have increased 10.9 percent to 374,321 for the first half of 2016. This is a larger number than has ever been seen before. And dealerships around the country are facing the fact that fleet is demanding more attention than ever, virtually creating a need for a separate, distinct department.
At most dealerships, there is only one person in charge of courtesy delivery for fleets. This person, like any other hard-working American, also takes vacations a few times a year, and during this time, it is unlikely anyone else can fill in.
But, you may ask, how can fleet be so different from retail? Keep in mind that when you or your account manager places an order for a new car, the manufacturer will literally build a vehicle, from scratch, for your business needs. The order is not going to the dealership around the corner with the 3,000 vehicles on the lot. The car needs to be built at the factory, shipped, and undergo several inspections once it gets to the dealer lot.
All vehicles, whether retail or fleet, will first have a pre-delivery inspection. This is a 200-point checklist to ensure the vehicle is working properly, has all the proper fluids and is safe to drive. Call it the last quality check, if you will. Then, depending on the state, additional checks, such as safety or smog inspections may be required.
And finally, there is the inevitable. Those things outside you or your driver’s control, like damage to the vehicle by acts of nature or transport before it gets to the lot. Hail damage is especially common.
So… What now?
Though it seems like many aspects of the courtesy delivery process are impossible to control, ensuring your drivers follow certain steps can help alleviate some of the frustrations. We spoke with LeasePlan account manager and Certified Automotive Fleet Manager, Laurie Hunter, to find out what these are.
According to Hunter, the interactions between your driver and the dealership can be a complicated dance. Making sure the dealer has all the information required to release the vehicle can certainly speed up the process. For example, “the delivering dealer may require a copy of license and proof of insurance before releasing a vehicle — even if they are not processing the registration. In some states, they are required by law to log this information for every vehicle,” Hunter said.
Let your drivers know they should be ready to provide these documents to the dealer in order to pick up their new vehicle.
“It is also a best practice to provide your drivers with a checklist of specifications to look out for when picking up their cars,” she continued. “This can be particularly important when it comes to upfitted vehicles, so they know exactly what is supposed to be on the vehicle at pickup.”
The next important step is to inspect the car for damages. “Have your driver walk the outside of the vehicle with the courtesy delivery personnel and check the inside. The driver should make note of any damages and contact LeasePlan immediately.”
If your driver spots anything, it is vital not to leave the dealership with the car. “Driving a damaged vehicle out of the lot could add more damage to what already exists,” she said. This can also make it harder to hold the dealership accountable for the damage.
Finally, in the face of the inevitable, plan for extra time. “Unfortunately, delays can be a common aspect of the order-to-delivery process, whether due to delays at the plant, unexpected vehicle damage, scheduling conflicts or other unknowns.”
Hunter’s last piece of advice is to rely on your LeasePlan team if you have any questions about the courtesy delivery process. “We are here to help, and will do everything we can to get your drivers on the road.”
“It is also a best practice to provide your drivers with a checklist of specifications to look out for when picking up their cars,” said Hunter. “This can be particularly important when it comes to upfitted vehicles, so they know exactly what is supposed to be on the vehicle at pickup.”