FN: What audits do you carry out?
SH: We have external ISO audits but we also have an internal audits team.
They audit every single job we do and that includes an individual vehicle audit. We also audit each depot twice a year to check there is a file for every vehicle and every driver and that maintenance is up to date.
I already have this information from our fleet software, but I like to see the physical evidence exactly as if VOSA came in and did a spot check.
I run the fleet as if it was a HGV fleet. I’d rather be too compliant than not compliant.
FN: How important is driver communication?
SH: It’s essential. I’m known by every driver in this company. Every depot sees me on a monthly basis.
I call it my ‘Gold Blend run’ – I go and have coffee in every depot. You can get far more done sometimes just by having that face-to-face contact.
I also send regular communication out via email. I tell them what we’re doing and why. If they know why you’re doing something and can see the benefits they will support you.
FN: Why did you decide to roll out speed limiters to the van fleet?
SH: From a duty of care point of view, I wasn’t comfortable with having a vehicle that could have five or six people in it, towing a trailer, and the potential to do 90mph.
Also, we get better fuel economy because the limiter is linked to the rev banding of the engine.
FN: How did you negotiate a reduction in your insurance premium?
SH: We went to our insurer’s main office in London and did a presentation, explaining ‘this is where we were and this is where we’re at now’.
The insurer looked at the accident stats, looked at what we were doing – the procedures, the driver handbooks, driver training, auditing, telemetry and speed limiters – and reduced the premium on the back of it.
FN: Why have you upgraded your telematics system?
SH: We had basic tracking for four years but that’s just pins on a map. We’ve now gone for an all-singing all-dancing system which will give us information on driver behaviour.
We want to be able to highlight particular problems, such as harsh braking because that impacts on maintenance costs.