The Power of Facts
Delivering the goods to decision makers.
Dave Forrest’s first brush with fleet was with a luxury brand, which he says prepared him well for the business.
“These were very demanding customers,” says the Director of Vehicle Operations, Fleet Sales & Sponsorship for Subaru Canada. “Expectations were very high, so you had to consistently deliver on your service experiences. Now we see that as a consistent expectation throughout the industry.”
Forrest enjoys the fleet business because it’s all about relationship building. “Fleet is all about building trust and providing good value,” he says. “I’m looking forward to getting out to the events, meeting people and the decision makers.”
He says fleet buyers are very practical, fact-based decision makers. “The facts we have to share are pretty clear and compelling,” he adds. “The Subaru brand is on a roll, and we are seeing the increased demand as we see the regular retail demand grow.”
His financial services background is another reason why Forrest feels well prepared to take on the challenges of fleet. “Much of financial services is driven around customer retention and renewal, and some of those principles apply quite well with fleet,” he explains. “If you do a good job of that initial purchase experience and the delivery, the dealer network services the driver properly, then you’ve got a good chance to renew and win the business a second time around.”
This position is Forrest’s return to Subaru Canada, where he worked in a regional capacity from 2008 to 2012. “I still have many good friends in the building because there’s low employee turnover,” he notes. “It’s a unique place with a special corporate culture, loyal dealers. And opportunities at this level don’t open up very often.”
He finds that Subaru has changed a great deal, from being a niche brand to being more mainstream. “The growth curve has been phenomenal. It’s nice to be with one of the winning brands. It’s had steady, consistent increases the last six, seven years.”
Forrest wears several different hats at Subaru, including overseeing vehicle operations, which means working with factories on vehicle scheduling and logistics, as well as sponsorship. “These other areas of the business, in terms of vehicle inventory and logistics, go hand in hand,” he says. “I’m able to use different areas of the business to help each other.
“If clients have specific timing, perhaps needing to get replacement vehicles or special projects to execute, we can truck vehicles up to the Toronto or Montreal area.” This holistic approach is another reason he was attracted to the position.
Getting the message out
He’s looking forward to working hard to win more business. “It’s an opportunity to be challenged, get the message out, and make sure fleet managers and buyers understand what we represent,” Forrest notes. “We want to ensure our incentive structure is well understood, and that they have the facts on our total cost of ownership.
“We have won a number of awards for best fleet value, and our line-up has class-leading safety. So we want to make sure fleet decision makers have all of the information and facts they need to select vehicles for their drivers.”