Small businesses can improve their fleet practises

SMALL businesses continue to lag behind larger companies in utilising best practice to manage company vehicles which could be costing them money at a time when they can ill afford it, according to new research.


Across a number of key areas of fleet management, larger companies (100+ employees) are much more active according to independent research from the Corporate Vehicle Observatory (CVO) Barometer.


The annual fleet barometer supported by operational leasing and fuel management company Arval, looked at the state of the market across 16 countries with more than 4,800 interviews conducted with fleet decision makers earlier this year.


Fewer than 10% of companies with under 100 employees are optimising fleet carbon dioxide emission, reporting on environmental performance, communicating with drivers to reduce costs or reporting for accounting purposes.


While less than 5% are reporting on vehicle reliability, utilising expert consultancy, or using pool cars – and no UK SME reported implementing eco driver training. Additionally, only 1% of small companies have tackled ‘grey fleet usage’, an area that not only has the potential to lower cost but also poses a significant duty of care risk, says the Barometer.


In contrast, more than a quarter of larger companies optimise and report on vehicle emissions, communicate with drivers to encourage cost saving and report for accounting purposes. While these larger companies can still do more to better manage their fleets, many demonstrate sound practises that smaller companies could benefit from, according to the organisation.


Mike Waters, senior insight and consultancy manager at Arval, said: ‘Smaller businesses could clearly benefit from accessing the very same external resources that help larger fleets to optimise performance. Many large fleets work in partnership with a leasing or fleet management provider and reap the benefits of access to this specialist resource, fleet size does not preclude any company from working with fleet policy and management experts.


‘It is understandable that a small business will have less in-house resource to allocate to the running of the vehicle fleet, but in neglecting their fleet policy they may be exposing themselves to a higher degree of risk and additional costs.


‘While not all of the policies that larger companies have in place are practical for their smaller equivalents, by taking a pragmatic approach, there are definitely initiatives that they can quickly implement which would make a significant difference.


‘Poor fleet practises cost small businesses money, expose them to risk and potentially damage their reputation. In the current economic climate, they can’t afford to get things wrong.’


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