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Outsourcing: is it a good move?

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Case study: University of Warwick

The University of Warwick has made significant savings since employing an in-house fleet manager.

Previously it outsourced everything to do with fleet and no individual at the university was responsible for fleet strategy.

Transport manager Graham Hine took up the challenge in 2007.

He demonstrated to the university that buying vehicles and managing them internally was a better option than outsourcing.

Now 80% of the university’s 111 vans are purchased outright with 20% remaining on contract hire.

The vans are used around the campus and travel less than 10,000 miles per annum.

The university’s 25 cars are still contract hired as they undergo higher mileage and the risk regarding maintenance is higher.

When purchasing vehicles, Hine makes use of public sector framework agreements (essentially pre-tendered contracts) and ‘cherry picks’ to ensure he gets the best deal.

This approach, combined with running the vans for five years, has saved a few hundred thousand pounds, says Hine.

His experience in fleet also helps the university avoid “nasty surprises” at the end of contracts.

There are additional savings by going direct to suppliers such as local repairers, independent tyre suppliers and daily rental firms.

Hine believes managing the fleet internally cuts down the response time for problems.

“Problems are addressed immediately,” he says. “If we used a third party we’ve have to relay the information and wait for a response.”

Hine has also put a number of polices in place including CO2 emissions restrictions, vehicle checks and driver training.

About 40% of Hine’s time is spent on fleet. His remit includes sustainable transport strategy, travel planning, bus services and coach, taxi and car hire.

Although he currently manages everything in-house (together with admin support) Hine is considering outsourcing annual driver licence checking.

“It could be done more efficiently and records would be up-to-date more quickly,” he says.

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