FN: What are the top priorities when it comes to choosing an SMR partner?
SD: It’s certainly not all about price. Downtime, customer service and data support are all key as is a slick authorisation process.
These are all vital to keeping our fleet mobile – if we don’t stay mobile, we can’t serve our members and that’s a key measure of my job.
We also have additional support through BT Fleet, such as Ad Blue stocked on site and parking spaces for our vehicles; this flexibility is important.
Then the bottom line is price. We check every authorisation more than £500 on which parts are being changed and time taken to repair and this saves us a lot of money.
We also have an extended four-year warranty for major parts with our suppliers.
FN: You have a number of vehicles with Lombard Vehicle Management, which intends to withdraw from leasing. Would you consider extending van replacement while you sort out new funding arrangements?
SD: We are researching our options to understand what is best practice both operationally and financially.
Our commercial vehicle replacement programme has up to now been very regimented; we constantly review our replacement cycle. Four years is our optimal cycle before we start seeing increased SMR costs.
The additional SMR costs for extending vehicles will need to be included within the finance modelling.
There will be a minimal impact on the residual value as typically an AA van achieves well at auction as the perception of buyer is it has been well maintained and serviced – which they are.
FN: Unifying the AA and Saga car policies must have given you a headache. How did you go about this, and what is the company’s position on grey fleet cars?
SD: Saga historically had only perk cars and all other job requirement users took a cash alternative – it was the wrong way round.
We have now introduced a job requirement car entitlement for drivers achieving more than 5,000 business miles per annum.
We have also centralised the orders to one provider and linked this to the AA deal. This has removed the administration burden of managing individual leasing providers and orders.
You also benefit from the efficiencies of one provider and contractual negotiated rates.
All high business mileage users must have a company car. If someone uses their own car for work purposes, it must be a maximum of five years old, and they have to provide all the relevant documentation.
We are also looking at salary sacrifice, especially with our carers and grey fleet on the Saga side.