6 min read

Simple steps to support effective SME fleet management

Research suggests that SME fleets, operating under 50 cars and vans, account for 57% of the UK’s fleet parc – and this number is only expected to grow in the coming years in line with the wider fleet market growth. However, due to the unique make-up of SME fleet teams, their operations can bring different efficiency and cost challenges.

“While SMEs can benefit from more streamlined decision-making processes and being more agile than larger corporates, they also have the potential disadvantage of limited resourcing and acute exposure to cost pressures,” explains Melanie Miles, Head of Central Sales at VWFS Fleet.

“Often those responsible for the business fleet are taking on that responsibility, along with many other roles such as HR, finance or operations. This can lead to time pressures when addressing important day-to-day fleet-related decision-making, strategic planning, cost analysis and future fleet negotiations.”

Financial pressures

Almost every business is feeling the effects of the UK’s current financial climate, with steep rises in inflation causing unprecedented cost increases. For SME fleets, rises in fuel and vehicle costs can be a huge concern.

VWFS Fleet Transition Tool

Firstly, researching the options available can help SMEs to make the best choices for their business needs and keep costs under control. When considering electric vehicles, for example, using VWFS Fleet’s online fuel cost comparator or fleet transition tool can help SMEs to calculate the potential cost savings to their business when it comes to switching to EVs.

Another strategy to mitigate cost concerns may be to deploy a single-brand approach to fleet vehicle choice. Sticking with a solo manufacturer for multiple vehicles can help strengthen new vehicle negotiations and lead to improved discounts.

Adopting a longer-term view of future fleet requirements can also help. Instead of simply focusing on a single transaction for an individual company driver, taking the time to develop a comprehensive fleet strategy and policies can result in cost benefits in future years. This can be created with the support of experts, such as VWFS Fleet, who can help identify and realise effective fleet efficiencies.

Lead Times

“While there have been significant reductions in lead times for vehicles over the past 18 months, we’re still not back to the pre-pandemic situation.” continues Melanie. “As a result, it’s crucial for those responsible for fleets to factor these lead times in to avoid business disruption, as well as optimise management of the existing fleet. Waiting beyond the usual vehicle replacement cycle will often mean increased maintenance and MOT costs for older vehicles.

“It’s important that SME fleet operators are as proactive as possible, manage driver expectations and clearly communicate the impact that supply chain pressures could have on drivers gearing up for a new vehicle delivery.”

VWFS Fleet’s fleet management portal can help here, as it can ensure drivers are prompted to book timely services on their existing vehicles while they wait for a new vehicle delivery. This will ensure vehicles continue to perform well and mitigate the impact of additional costs that SME fleets can often ill-afford. It also gives visibility of new vehicle orders, so it’s easy to get an update on timelines and status for orders.

However, it’s also worth remembering that, with VWFS Fleet, businesses will have fleet consultants at the end of the phone, who can help to advise them on current model availability, arrange demonstrations, provide consultative advice and also research models in stock. This can prove invaluable for SMEs who may need to pivot and make fleet decisions in shorter time frames. Having VWFS Fleet source in-stock vehicles removes this headache and can assist SME clients in sourcing vehicles with a quick turnaround.

Fleet electrification

Vehicle Charging

Adopting a longer-term strategy can also support SME fleets in transitioning to electric vehicles ahead of the proposed 2035 ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars and vans.

While more than 80% of SMEs want to switch to EVs, almost a third have cited costs are a concern when it comes to making the transition (32%). To tackle this, it’s essential that SME fleet operators consider the longer-term impact of electrification, looking at whole life cost (WLC) over monthly lease prices.

“Historically, there were a limited number of EV models available on the market, with limited range and higher price tags,” adds Melanie.

“ Now, with a larger number of models and variations available, EVs are far more accessible in terms of cost and range. While the monthly lease cost of EVs can be higher than petrol or diesel vehicle equivalents, maintenance and running costs are typically lower – with significantly reduced Class 1A NI contributions – resulting in a lower overall whole life cost.”

VWFS Fleet is here to help

VWFS Fleet has built a suite of customer solutions that can help SMEs to save time, improve efficiency and reduce overall fleet costs:

  • VWFS Fleet’s fleet management portal is a user-friendly solution, specifically designed to cut down the admin time and resource involved with managing fleets. It provides access to important fleet information, such as expected end of contract dates, MOT reminders for older vehicles, driver details, monthly fleet costs and much more. It’s an intuitive, one-stop shop for fleet operators. It alleviates the daily pressures some SME fleet operators face, while juggling their additional work responsibilities.

  • VWFS Fleet customers have access to highly-experienced fleet consultants as standard, to help them understand current model and stock availability, arrange demonstrations and offer general fleet advice and support.

  • The EV-4-ME tool helps SME fleet operators to discover the suitability of electric vehicles, or what the most appropriate fuel type is for their fleet and drivers.

  • VWFS Fleet’s Fuel Cost Comparator enables fleet managers to compare fuel costs for a range of petrol and diesel vehicles against the charging costs of equivalent electric vehicles. It provides several different charging options to give the typical difference in price at home, public AC and rapid and ultra-rapid charging.

  • Fleet Transition Tool – this helps fleets to consider the potential benefits of switching part or all of their fleet to EVs. It analyses which drivers are ready to switch to an electric vehicle today, and identifies those who may find the switch more complicated right now, and why.

  • The e-Driverline resource on VWFS Fleet’s website is designed to assist drivers and their vehicles 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. This frees up valuable time of those responsible for SME fleets as part of a wider role, with drivers being able to log in directly to view information on and book servicing and maintenance appointments for their vehicle.

To find out more about how VWFS Fleet supports SME fleets, click here.

If you have a specific question or would simply like to discuss your fleet requirements, please contact us.

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