Welcome to our occasional column Women in Fleet. Firstly, can you tell us what your role as business development manager at a motor dealership involves, especially as it relates to fleet?
I prospect for new business and fleet opportunities and then look after the entirety of the customers’ needs after that. For example, if the customer needs whole-of-life costs, servicing, or meeting health and safety concerns.
Watching your I was fascinated on your observations of how much the fleet manager role had changed over time. Can you tell us about that?
I’ve been in this role for 10 years now and the change has been quite dramatic really. I’ve seen a huge movement from clients just needing cars that are fit for purpose and dollar values not being a huge priority, to clients downsizing and moving into looking at vehicles that can be fit for purpose but also value for money.
I’ve also noticed more inquiry from clients, they are seeking a lot more information these days to make that right decision. That goes for companies and also for councils wanting to do what’s best for their local communities. I’ve also noticed that 10 years ago there were fleet managers that were managing the fleet internally as well as using external fleet management organisations, but the big trend over the last five years is that fleet managers responsibilities have shifted to accountants and CEOs and they are looking more at cost value, and not so much fit for purpose value.
You came to your present role from the human resources discipline. How did you make your skills transferable?
I was doing recruitment internally for Toll. My role was to listen to what the client wanted, in terms of best fit, experience and attitude. The fundamentals are very similar when it comes to business development. I’m not selling a car so much as advising my clients on what is best for their business.
We chatted earlier, so I know you are enthusiastic about what you see as an increasing and successful role for women in the automotive industry and nascent moves to develop networks for women. Can you tell me how you see things have changed for women?
Here at Bartons, it was just me when I first started. We didn’t have a fleet department and the only females were in admin, or aftermarket, so to have more and more is just great. Now we have women on the retail floor, and the whole fleet team is female. We have two female general managers and we have female mechanics. I think that as much as all dealerships are very much in competition and we’re all very competitive, it’s great if as females we can get together, talk about what we go through, and about how we can help each other grow. I know a lot of females in this space that do exactly that. As females what we do well is we back each other. I’m passionate about it.