Maximising fleet efficiency during the pandemic
For many operators, the focus while coming out of lockdown has been on finding new ways of running fleets more efficiently. As the country’s restrictions change by the day, fleet managers will need to be ever more on the ball when it comes to tracking their vehicles and managing schedules.
The pandemic has been an opportunity (if somewhat forced) for companies to do a deep-delve into their fleet operations to really get a handle on what kinds of vehicles are needed in the “new normal”, how drivers will be allocated and how increased visibility of vehicle activity can help shape a much more streamlined, cost effective approach.
In an interview with Fleet World magazine, chairman of the Association of Fleet Professionals (AFP) Paul Hollick stated that 69% of fleet managers are looking to create added value for their company. He went on to say that fleet managers should show how the fleet management role within a business can increase efficiency, reduce cost, improve robustness in systems, and which key projects drive business performance. A vital part of that positioning is the review and investment fleet managers make and recommend around deploying the right systems. The added insights today’s tracking technology can provide are vital in order to tell a robust story at director level and get buy-in for the importance of the role of fleet managers in a business’s operational success.
Paul added “It is very much about constructing demonstrable facts to highlight the ongoing importance of fleet and business transport facilities within organisations. Sometimes, even quite significant achievements can pass under the radar and fleets need to shout about their wins.”
In line with the increased focus on efficiency, one key trend seen since lock-down has been a rise in fleets turning to contract extensions to save money in challenging times.
The AFP’s July webinar found that 42% of fleets plan to extend their leases or stop ordering, in response to economic uncertainty and the need to cut costs. However, it should be noted that often this is false economy, as many vehicles often involve considerable extra expense in years four and five.
This especially can occur around the point of the first MOT at three years, which was also where the warranty ends for most major manufacturers. For example, you may find that you will have to buy a complete set of tyres or pass the point at which a major scheduled service is due. For some vehicles, there may even be relatively expensive one-off costs such as the replacement of a timing chain.
But also, there’s the issue of increased fuel costs for older vehicles, compared to newer engine technology. Then there’s the issue of running vehicles with older safety technology, potentially putting drivers at risks.
While extending replacement cycles could prove prudent, fleets looking to simply save money could find a new vehicle or lease would be cheaper.
INCREASED FOCUS ON EMPLOYEE HEALTH & WELFARE
Alongside the changes in fleet and risk management, managers have also had to take on increased focus on employee health and welfare during furlough as well as how company assets are tracked and managed in the home environment, as people will be expected to work from home for some time yet.
This has entailed everything from making sure that employees who still have company assets are looking after them in the right way, to giving tips on how employees can look after themselves while working from home. The contractual shift in the place of work, from office to home, has also brought a number of considerations, including on commutes into the office.
A move by some firms to return pool car fleets to leasing companies has also meant that drivers have had to turn to public transport, hire cars or use their own vehicles. For public transport, this has seen fleets provide employees with tips on how to navigate public transport safely, while drivers picking up hire cars in any shape or form have had to be advised to make sure the rental provider is ensuring cleanliness and hygiene standards.
And if drivers are using their own vehicle, processes should be in place to make sure employees aren’t sharing the same car.
REVIEWING YOUR FLEET MANAGEMENT SOFTWARE
So taking all these aspects into consideration, if your business is struggling to manage changes or hasn’t yet got the appropriate fleet management system in place, we’d be happy to talk to you about either our ready-to-deploy solution or a more bespoke approach that can be built specifically to your brief.