For many industries, a company’s fleet is of paramount importance to the smooth operation of business, and nowhere is this truer than in the pharmaceutical sector. Finance Director Europe talks to Cem Erdinç, fleet supervisor at Abdi Ibrahim, a leader in the Turkish market, to find out why the company chose SEAT as its partner for such a fundamental aspect of its business.
The effectiveness of a sales team often depends on its mobility, which puts the needs of the fleet manager high on the list of strategic priorities. But finding the right partner to supply vehicles that meet the demands of sales personnel is not an easy task, as there are many criteria to satisfy. We asked Turkish pharmaceutical industry leader Abdi Ibrahim how the company approached such a critical decision.
The company was founded by Abdi Ibrahim Bey in 1912 in Küçükmustafapasa, Istanbul, as a small pharmacy. It has since grown to have the largest product portfolio in the sector, with more than 180 brands and around 350 products, by developing its own products and working with 30 licensors. Its product range includes anti-anaemic, antibacterial, antiviral, dermatology, endocrine and cardiovascular products, as well as food supplements, vitamins and minerals from 13 different therapeutic areas. Today, it operates in eight countries outside Turkey, exports to 50 countries and employs nearly 3,500 qualified employees in its home country.
Among this workforce is the largest marketing and sales team in Turkey’s pharmaceutical sector. The mobility needs of this division of the business are of vital strategic importance.
The right choice
“Abdi Ibrahim owes its strength to its great sales force out in the field. This large team of employees is greatly motivated by its key work equipment, which essentially means its fleet of vehicles,” says Abdi Ibrahim’s fleet supervisor, Cem Erdinç. “Sales representatives spend most of their days in their cars, so it is important to have vehicles that are safe and ergonomically designed.”
In the organisational structure of Abdi Ibrahim, fleet management is positioned within the HR department. The team, led by Erdinç, reports directly to the chief HR officer on vital matters including the effective distribution of the vehicles and the smooth operation of all fleet activities.
A key task is the preparation of detailed fleet reports and analysis to improve the driving efficiency of the sales force and the reduction of the number of accidents. As fleet supervisor, Erdinç also keeps a close eye on costs and takes charge of new projects aimed at improving the efficiency of fleet operations.
When it comes to choosing a fleet partner, Erdinç must look at a wide range of issues. Cost, efficiency and safety are high on the list of priorities, but so is the ability of a vehicle manufacturer to respond to the company’s changing needs. It is also important to remember that the people out in the field, driving the cars, should enjoy the experience.
“Our company only picks its fleet partner after conducting a meticulous evaluation, as is the case with all of the processes we perform,” Erdinç says. “Safety, ergonomics, the comfort of the vehicle, employee satisfaction, a strong service network and infrastructure, and brand perception are among our most important selection criteria.
“Abdi Ibrahim’s fleet comprises 1,750 vehicles in 81 provinces. These company vehicles should be robust enough to offer a flawless service. Other criteria we factored into our tender scoring are the reliability and sensitivity of our fleet partner in terms of delivery and production.”
Safety and efficiency must be guaranteed
Sustainability is an increasingly important element of the cost consideration. Companies such as Abdi Ibrahim consider the environment not only for its own sake but also from the perspective of cost-efficiency. An effective fleet partner must be a trusted brand that is a good fit not only in terms of the vehicles it provides but also in terms of the service and support that comes with the partnership.
The company has chosen SEAT as its fleet provider and, within the scope of its contract, 1,750 Leon diesel vehicles. This decision was partly based on SEAT’s ability to provide seamless maintenance and repair services throughout Turkey, because the slightest problem with any vehicle would directly impact sales – and employee satisfaction.
“SEAT is a brand that completely fits our tender specifications with the aforementioned characteristics,” explains Erdinç. “We were fully convinced by the safety results. In addition, the dynamic silhouette and design of the vehicle are particularly appealing for the employees of our company, which has quite a young field sales force.
“Another important advantage shown by our tests is the reduction in fuel consumption with the new engines that allows greater efficiency inside and outside the cities. Another equally important reason that we chose SEAT is the cost-benefit advantage of the brand, considering the features it offers compared with its rivals.
“Our company also accentuates and is very sensitive about environmental protection in all of its production processes,” he adds. “The biggest expense items on our operating budget are vehicle rental fees and fuel cost. For this reason, vehicle cost influences many other important areas. In other words, low carbon emissions and fuel consumption helped SEAT vehicles stand out amid all other options, for cost and environmental reasons.”
SEAT has put great effort into its branding and market positioning over the past five years, and the result has been a consistent improvement in the perception of the brand. This caught the eye of Erdinç, who was interested in the aesthetics of the car and the reports of its performance on the road. Subsequently, detailed analysis of the company’s support infrastructure and the capabilities of the Leon persuaded him that it was a perfect fit for a sales force that represents a highly respected business.
“With its dynamic silhouette and design, the SEAT Leon is quite appealing, especially for the younger population,” he says. “This is why it stood out as a top alternative for our company’s field force.
“Since choosing SEAT as our partner, we have found that it responds to all of our needs rather quickly. SEAT Turkey employees kept informing us on delivery and production processes right from the beginning to allow us to co-plan. The rational and agile responses to our price-related questions have further contributed to our positive experience with SEAT.”
Abdi Ibrahim is a new client for SEAT, and its demands on performance and support are high, given how important the fleet is to its business. But, right from the start, the relationship has been a fruitful one. Both sides are anticipating a long partnership that can stay in line with the company’s changing needs as it continues to grow.