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Fleet News debates: how do you manage difficult situations

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Having rules and policies for your fleet is standard practice, but ensuring drivers follow them to the letter can involve tact and skill. Our fleet managers outline how they tackle the challenge.

What are your most common problems with drivers and how do you manage those issues?

Judith Popay, fleet manager, AstraZeneca: One common problem we’ve found is that drivers don’t always like the hire car they receive, especially if they are due to have it for some period of time.

To fix this, we got our drivers to talk to the rental company to see if they could supply something more suited to their needs.

Because the drivers are usually in a hire car for a long time they build a relationship with the branch and they usually accommodate them.

Tony Raymond, head of fleet services, Morrison Plant & Fleet Services: Our main problems are that drivers have too many accidents and not all are optimising their fuel consumption.

We engage with the drivers through either direct contact or their line management.

When drivers understand they are being held to account they start to improve their driving.

David Landy, head of fleet, Sky at Unipart: Our most common issues are incurring unnecessary fines and re-charging for avoidable damage to the vehicles.

The fleet team manages these issues via education; whenever a bad news message has to be delivered we do so with an educational piece to assist the driver to avoid the same thing happening again.

Ted Sakyi, fleet manager, Tube Lines: The most common problem with drivers is around the lack of reporting of minor accident damage and completion of driver log sheets.

Each driver should complete a vehicle check sheet and log sheet prior to the vehicle being moved: however, this does not always happen.

So each vehicle is fitted with a “live” tracking device and drivers are issued with a RFID card that monitors who is driving the vehicle and how they are driving.

If damage is found or reported we then backtrack to identify the driver and a full investigation is implemented.

How do you keep drivers happy when introducing a new – and possibly controversial – policy?

Judith Popay The last controversial policy we introduced was a CO2 cap reduction. We had agreement to set the starting level at 150g/km and reduce it by 10g/km each year.

We did a communication exercise and explained the benefits for the drivers and for the company. For the most part they accepted the target. So, again, communication, explanation and information was the key.

Tony Raymond We consult with directors and management before any new policies are introduced so we can recognise any issues that may arise from drivers and make a judgement on the validity of the new policy versus the impact on drivers.

We also invite drivers to call if they have a problem or query.

David Landy When introducing anything new we use a driver forum; a panel of both drivers and their immediate line management.

The forum is used to convey the message to the drivers and allows replies and responses which can be considered and viewed by all.

Ted Sakyi Communication and consultation with all parties is key, engaging very early with key stakeholders, the board or directors and the trade unions.

This is particularly true if a new policy is likely to be controversial.

Confrontation can be avoided by clear, honest explanation of the reasons why a policy is necessary before it is implemented.

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