PLANET Leasing has branched out into estate agencies – with a new division called Cars4Agents run by former Countrywide assistant branch manager Haley Chavner.
The 32-year-old had been working for Abbotts Countrywide at its branch in Rochford, Essex, for several years, when she came up with her bright idea.
She quit and joined forces with Planet, run by Darren Nash and Gary Rose, to launch a car leasing firm targeting estate agents called Cars4Agents.com.
She said: “Expectations of what a customer considers value for money has altered with the advent of online agents competing at low prices with traditional high street set-ups. Differentiation is imperative and it’s important for those in the industry to be looking their best during this time of transformation.”
Haley also thinks wrapped agents cars have an edge over ordinary ones, and that digital marketing isn’t as powerful as it’s made out to be.
She promotes the operation by emphasising the raised brand awareness of a new car with a quality wrap and enhanced staff appreciation of the company car ‘perk’.
“We have seen it happen with our own eyes; agents re-brand, wrap the cars and see an uplift in business,” she says.
“Customers are more inclined to want to work with accessible local businesses; the ones they see around town every day, too.
“Until very recently, for the majority of estate agency businesses in the UK the idea of leasing a car when you could buy one as a business asset seemed like outright madness.
“But the market is changing and people are realising that to buy a car new is leaving your business open to huge losses when residual value drops. It just doesn’t make sense any more.”
There are obviously plenty of cars to choose from, but what types of cars should agents be considering for hire?
Hayley says: “Right now my top pick fleet car for negotiators is the Fiat 500. They’re nippy, stylish and look fantastic wrapped in branding.
“I am also a fan of the ‘smart fortwo’ which is great for squeezing into tight spaces and running around town between appointments.
“The Renault Clio and Peugeot 108 have the advantages being affordable city cars which also tick boxes for efficiency, handling and comfort.
“As for ‘executive models’ you’re really looking for something that’s going to handle well, keep the fuel consumption down and also convey the right impression to your customers. A red Ferrari might be slightly overkill, however tempting.
“Personally, I think nothing says professionalism like the Mercedes C Class and Audi A4 Saloon which offer practicality, comfort an impressive spec as standard.”