It takes into consideration purchase price (discounts from carmakers and dealers are agreed six months in advance), SMR, residual value, VED, fuel costs (official combined figure minus 10%), and employers’ national insurance.
Staff can trade up or down. Those trading up pay the wholelife cost differential up front; if they trade down, Home Retail Group will pay the differential on a monthly basis.
CO2 caps help to control choice: 85% of staff sit below a 150g/km threshold, 12% can choose up to 180g/km and the other 3% (company directors) have a 280g/km limit.
Average emissions across the fleet are 131g/km; even the directors have a reasonable 160g/km average.
While Home Retail Group has been highly successful in the efficient management of its company car fleet, Weston is not taking success for granted.
His latest project is a complete overhaul of fleet policy.
The “root and branch” review includes benchmarking against other retail operators, working with the benefits and rewards team and resourcing, employee surveys and external research on the company car policy.
It is focusing on employee entitlements, bandings, cash allowances and the choice list.
Weston has the initial findings but does not expect to implement any changes for another 12 months.
“The review is all about making sure our policies are right,” he says. “Every company should look at this once in a while.”
Managing the driver to manage risk
Each health and safety audit that takes place at one of the Home Retail Group’s Argos, Homebase or Habitat stores includes road risk management.
This cultural buy-in from top down ensures the company is able to have a high level of control over fleet safety.
However, Weston believes there is more to be done.
He is re-evaluating the training programme to make it more targeted.
Instead giving everyone half-a-day’s training under the old policy, the company has set up an interventions policy and takes action only when it detects a risk.
Action ranges from psychometric testing to on-road training, while risk is measured on licence history, accident history (rated by type, responsibility, speed), business mileage and maintenance history which indicates driver abuse.
“Our risk strategy looks at driver management,” says Weston. “Managing the driver is the main controller of cost.”
From exhibitions to fleet
Peter Weston joined Home Retail Group (Argos, Homebase, Habitat) nine years ago as a team leader in the transport department; he became fleet manager three years ago.
Prior to Home Retail Group Weston organised trade events and exhibitions. An interest in cars inspired the change in career.
Weston heads a team of five which is responsible for the 1,386 car fleet from the Milton Keynes head office; the company’s 1,400 commercials, of which around 1,000 are heavy goods vehicles, are run from a separate operation in Leicestershire.
The team is split into key roles, including procurement, maintenance and road risk management. It sits within Home Retail Group’s massive HR function.