In the wake of the introduction of real-time licence checking and the abolition of the paper counterpart, more businesses have been checking their drivers’ licences more often. This is undoubtedly a good thing for businesses – being more aware of possible risks – but it’s also brought growth for Licence Bureau.
Malcolm Maycock, director of Licence Bureau, explains that despite the digitisation, the company is continuing to grow its head count, and is set to move into a new office.
“With the introduction of e-consent, we can process a licence check and have the result back in less than a minute,” he explains. “When we started, the process was tedious and took at least a day. We had to email out forms, get them printed, signed and scanned or even faxed back, then perform the check with the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA), usually overnight.”
The introduction of digital licence checking means the cost of a check has dramatically reduced – with far fewer manual processes involved.
Maycock says that the cost of checking is likely to continue to fall as technology advances, and volumes further increase.
As the input cost falls and the processes get easier, the company is turning its attention to better support for its customers – using its in-house team of account managers to work closely with clients throughout the year.
In addition to the support and hand-holding, the company has expanded its range of compliance services to more than just checking a licence – ensuring as many regulations are complied with as possible.
Driver Certificates of Professional Competence (CPC) and tachograph data will be available through the DVLA system, and therefore Licence Bureau, later this year, which means fleet and transport managers will have more information all in one place.
Maycock says: “The core is still licence checking, and everyone gets that. We now sell a compliance journey, given one of the biggest things a company needs to do is actually establish who drives.”
Licence Bureau’s ‘compliance journey’ begins with an employee audit.
It identifies which staff or contractors drive, what vehicles they drive, and what entitlements they require to do so.
“Businesses start with all the best intentions, bring in policies, and perhaps go through the training cycle twice, but eventually, new staff come in and policies aren’t as rigidly enforced,” explains Maycock.
“Through our account managers, we assist businesses to make it a continuous process.”
A contact at the customer will work with the account manager, to pass details of leavers and starters, as well as managing the alerts of issues, such as points or disqualifications discovered.
The system can also input drivers’ grey fleet details, to log checks of insurance, MOT and tax.
“Checking an insurance certificate once a year doesn’t really work. An employer should be reminding staff that insurance is due, and checking the certificate after its been renewed,” Maycock says.
“It’s amazing how many people don’t have the correct business insurance still, and our system helps companies to check the right information.”
For licence checking, the reduced cost and workload makes frequent checks more achievable.
“FORS (Fleet Operator Recognition Scheme) recommends six monthly checks, the traffic commissioner recommends quarterly, and the main reason people weren’t checking licences as frequently was probably cost.
“With monthly checks, which in the future could cost less than 10p each, there would be no place for drivers to hide. You need to be at the point where a driver who’s been disqualified for 14 days or so is upfront and honest, and goes to see their manager.”
Licence Bureau is in the process of changing its packages for customers to an ‘annual management fee’ basis, plus a cost per check, in response to the improved cost structure they receive.
“The cost is what we get charged by the DVLA. I don’t care if you do one check a year or 12, you just pay those two elements. It encourages businesses to make the most of cheaper checks.”
Maycock explains that the DVLA will review its charges every 12 months, and any reductions will be passed on to Licence Bureau customers accordingly.
He says the attitudes and working practices of the DVLA have greatly improved in the 14 years since he launched Licence Bureau in 2003.
“The difference in service and dialogue between now and then is incredible,” he says.
In recent years, the DVLA has seen huge changes, thanks to the coalition Government’s red tape challenge. Digital services for fleets, in particular, have greatly improved, reducing the reliance on paper documents.
In an effort to improve communication between the industry and the government body, Maycock was involved in starting the ADLV (Association for Driving Licence Verification) in 2014.
“I have a personal campaign for data security in the licence checking industry, which is one of the reasons why we started ADLV. All ADLV members are insured, ISO 27001 accredited, and have been subject to computer penetration testing,” said Maycock.
Security and IT systems are one of the backbones behind Licence Bureau’s growth.
“Where we have grown massively is in our IT systems. They are in-house and bespoke, and we do a lot of work with customers to make our compliance better,” Maycock says.
He believes the bespoke nature makes the firm quicker to respond to customer suggestions.
“Customers feed back to us all the time, and it’s the lifeblood of the business.” He cites customer experiences of inspections, where conversations with traffic commissioners have resulted in the simplification of reports and addition of other data to more easily meet criteria.
Maycock and his team have then been able to use those experiences to guide other customers about the best reports to present to officials for inspections.
A former traffic police officer, Maycock is driven by a passion for cutting road deaths.
In October 2016, he was presented with the Kevin Storey Award for an outstanding commitment to road safety by the charity Brake. The award was in recognition of the safety benefits of Maycock’s drive to introduce licence checking, and the work done in local schools concerning road safety, particularly with client Skanska.
“We do lots of work with construction companies, and their whole ethos is fantastic. They want their staff to go to work safely, and get home at the end of the day, and they see driving as an extension of that,” he adds.
Licence Bureau’s process is driven by compliance and reducing risk, and Maycock is pleased with guidelines and legislation to set out consequences.
He believes it is important businesses know the penalties for failing to ensure their employees are safe.
“We were the first people to have a consent form for licence checking and in 2005 we were new and people were hesitant about doing it that way. Then the Health and Safety Executive guidelines were strengthened, and people began to take road risk more seriously,” he explains.
“Driving is now probably one of the most dangerous things that we can do in the UK and people are starting to recognise that. Giving magistrates and judges guidelines for corporate manslaughter was a great move. It means all sentencing is on a level playing field.
“Having a document, written down, that says fines for a breach will have an economic impact on a business is huge. It sends a clear message that if your business isn’t safe, it will hurt financially.”