Nick Chadaway DMN

The complexity of vehicle inspections

One of the most contentious aspects of vehicle asset management is around end of contract fair wear and tear but it needn’t be that way according to Nick Chadaway, managing director of vehicle movement specialists, DMN.

Fair wear and tear occurs when normal usage causes deterioration to a vehicle over the duration of a contract – that’s the simple explanation.

The BVRLA’s Fair Wear and Tear Guide is the industry standard and does a very good job of setting out the factors to consider.

Some operators choose to produce their own guidelines.

Either way, the key lies in communication with the fleet or consumer customer in the case of a PCP in the first instance and subsequent adherence to the standards set.

This is where consistency, efficiency and the training and skill of the vehicle inspector comes into play.

Disputes and resolutions

Supporting the case in point, during the first half of 2019, the BVRLA’s Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) service handled 1,317 complaint cases.

As in previous years, damage was the main reason for customer complaints, with common areas of contention relating to who is liable for causing the damage and whether damage should be deemed as fair wear and tear incurred during the length of the contract.

Amanda Brandon BVRLA head of operations, said, ‘It is extremely important for members to document everything when it comes to the condition of vehicles and the logging of any existing or new damage.’

The key principles

With any inspection, the overriding principle is to remove the subjectivity from the inspection process and ensure operations work transparently and in harmony, offering peace of mind to the end-user and security to the vehicle owner.

A detailed, process-driven inspection ensures that any vehicles delivered or collected to the end-user are ‘as expected’ with no surprises or unexpected complications smoothing the entire supply chain process and adding value.

Immediate removal from site of an inspected vehicle, following a customer’s sign off, is also another key component of providing them with a defining level of service as well as removal of ‘doubt’ from the process.

Behavioural psychology

These types of service provision play on the principles of behavioural psychology, proactively enhancing customer interactions and building brand recognition that decreases the chance of any contested agreements.

Deployment of technology, as in any business sector today, across all elements of the inspection process is a must in order to assist the process, to garner that all-important customer trust and create value.

However, one very important factor I have not referred to and, for me, is arguably the most critical is the human side of business.

People are still a company’s greatest asset and those carrying out vehicle inspections are ultimately the ‘face’ of the vehicle asset management business.

Well trained, well presented and, generally, friendly natured personnel help to make vehicle inspection a positive touch point for the asset manager’s brand – the aim for any service provision, especially one where the supplier has such little opportunity to directly ‘impress’ the driver customer.

For a consumer with a PCP deal from a broker the end of contract inspection process may be new to them and this will be the first time they have had contact with the broker after the initial vehicle delivery.

If they know what are signing for and why there should be no further customers issues to manage for the asset owner.

A good consumer experience is likely to encourage a repeat order for a new car, a bad experience means the consumer may well look to a new provider for their next car and share their pain points with family and friends thus further penalising the asset owner’s business.

The complexity of vehicle inspections is clearly far more than just arguing over wear and tear, in fact it’s quite the opposite.

As an asset owner get it right and it can be part of a great customer journey and add value to their business.

Get it wrong and you are forever dealing with dissatisfied customers and layering in costs to your business.

The choice truly is yours.