Safety and driver communications are two areas where Lafarge excels within its fleet operation – and two key reasons why it collected the Fleet News award for Fleet of the Year in the 501–1,000 vehicle category.
New initiatives have seen an impressive reduction in accident rates and overall costs, while a new online driver portal is providing employees with a more user-friendly way of understanding their company car costs and duty- of-care responsibilities.
“Lafarge is obsessed with safety. It’s our number one priority and it’s the culture of the business – people genuinely believe it,” says strategic sourcing manager Mark Giannasi.
The company’s Zero Harm policy permeates throughout Lafarge but cost cutting is not the main driver.
Rebecca Chivers, UK car fleet adviser, explains: “Our objective is to protect our staff who are driving on company business; reducing cost is a by-product.
"Once the initial programme is done and the training has taken place, the company culture takes over.”
The safety programme is just one of a number of changes the Lafarge fleet team has implemented in recent years. However, everything is done with one eye firmly focused on improving safety and communications.
Fleet News: You took the decision three years ago to move from a multi-funder approach to a sole partner – GE Capital. Why does this work best for Lafarge?
Rebecca Chivers: Having one provider is easier for administration and day-to-day contact. Communication with the drivers is a key area of the relationship.
Mark Giannasi: The dilemma was the ease of administration and the premium you pay versus multi-source quotes. But we have an open pricing model with GE that gives us certainty on cost.
We also do a lot with GE on cost reduction activities, for example on accidents, which would be more difficult with several providers.
FN: Where does the driver sit in terms of the overall fleet policy? Is their satisfaction a key consideration?
MG: Helping drivers to understand the implications of what they are choosing over four years is important, especially with the changes to benefit-in-kind tax.
But you have to find the right balance on the level of information to give them.
We developed a driver portal where the key messages are delivered.
We have turned a 20-page dry driver document into five things drivers need to be aware of. It’s more useable and more likely to be used.
We also provide drivers with details of the BIK tax costs for all the future years so employees can see the costs during their time with the car. It prevents shocks.
RC: Our driver survey found that employees didn’t realise tax increases each year with the BIK changes, so our ongoing communication with them is increasing their understanding.