This month, as part of our monthly interview series we caught up with Sharran Chapman, Fleet Business Partner at City Plumbing Supplies to find out how CTS helps their business.
Q: Hi Sharran, thanks for taking the time to speak with us. How long have you been working with CTS?
A: I started working for City Plumbing in January this year, so I’ve only been working with the team for eight months, but as a business we’ve used CTS as our vehicle supplier for several years. Initially it was to provide us with short-term hire vehicles, but now they’re our go-to supplier for long term hire vehicles too.
Q: What was the catalyst to switching to CTS for long term hire too?
A: During the Covid-19 pandemic we were experiencing such high demand for vehicles that we needed to work with a supplier who could fulfil our needs. CTS was the only company that could provide us with the number of vehicles we need, the types of vehicle we need in the timeframes that we need them. Not just during the pandemic but on a consistent basis.
Helen Davey and the team at CTS have such a strong reputation because they’ve built solid relationships with their suppliers; they’re always able to deliver what we need, when we need it.
Q: What does it mean to City Plumbing Supplies to have access to vehicles in times of need?
A: It means that we’re able to resolve breakdown issues before they turn into a crisis, so the branches are still able to deliver what they’ve promised to their customers. If one of our vehicles breaks down, we know that CTS will be able to replace it within 24-hours, if not the same day.
Q: What type of vehicle do you hire from CTS?
A: We hire a mixture of vehicles from them. Typically, it’s the 3.5 tonne vans, such as a Sprinter van or a low loader. One of the most popular vehicles that our branches need is a Luton Tail Lift van, which is the one we struggle to find with other suppliers. We also hire 7.5 tonne vehicles from CTS and recently changed the process due to compliance, so the team at CTS helped to make sure we’re not breaching our O licence.
Q: It sounds like the team goes above and beyond for you, is that an industry standard or something that CTS does specifically?
A: CTS gives you access to a Portal so that you can get a live overview of the number of vehicles that are on hire and which vehicles have been on hire the longest. I can see if any of the vehicles have been damaged and which region they were damaged in. This gives me a chance to give specific feedback to the regional managers and the branch managers.
We like to work closely with our branch managers and give them feedback that will help us improve the service we provide to our customers. So, if vehicles are being damaged on the same route, then we know we need to have a word with our drivers to ensure they’re being as vigilant as possible. We also want to make sure that all vehicles are properly checked once they’re delivered to the branch just in case a vehicle is damaged and it needs to be logged, we can give the team the information they need in terms of who was responsible for the damage.
Q: How many City Plumbing branches are there now?
A: We’re just shy of 400 branches nationwide. We’ve currently got 370 branches that are already open and trading, with more new sites opening later this year. At the moment we haven’t got a strategy for replacing vehicles but working with CTS means that we can rest assured that vehicles will be delivered prior to when we need them, and all the paperwork is up to date. If there is ever an issue, then someone on the team will call me straight away so that we can get it resolved. I’ve never had to chase CTS for anything, it’s always delivered to me before I get a chance to ask for it.
Q: What do you most enjoy about working with CTS?
A: First of all, everyone in the team is extremely friendly and helpful, you never feel like you’re being a burden or wasting their time, even though I’m sure they’re all incredibly busy. Even if there is a dispute, the team always handles it professionally and with care, they’re never rude or defensive, they simply resolve it as quickly as possible.
I’ve even been on a call with Helen before where she briefed me on the questions I need to ask the branch managers when they request certain vehicles to make sure they’re getting exactly what they need. She’ll even go out of her way to ask more questions about what the vehicle will be used for so that she can suggest a better alternative. We’ve definitely saved money as a result of this as we’ve realised that the vehicle we’re requesting isn’t necessarily the best one for the job. Without Helen’s expertise and willingness to be honest with us we’d still be hiring the same vehicles all the time, not knowing that alternatives exist.
Q: What difference does working with CTS have on the running of City Plumbing Supplies?
A: Aside from everything I’ve already said, reliability is key. I know that all the information I need will be delivered to me immediately, I don’t ever have to chase them. Vehicles are always delivered prior to needing them. It’s a seamless process and I know I don’t need to micromanage them. The Portal is also a huge benefit that provides so much insight and value that we wouldn’t ordinarily have access to, not without spending a lot of time requesting information and then analysing it.
Q: Before we finish the interview, is there anything else you’d like to share about your relationship with CTS?
A: The whole team is brilliant and you constantly feel like you’re being looked after. Helen Davey is our account manager, but if she’s ever out of the office when I call then her team members are always up to speed with everything that’s going on, we don’t have to wait for her to return to get questions answered.
It’s not like this at other vehicle supply companies – I just wish every aspect of my job ran as smoothly as it does with CTS.