Fleet News

Fleet managers out in the cold at decision time

FLEET managers are in a minority when it comes to making decisions on key fleet policy matters according to a survey from Dial Contracts. The survey - conducted by the Business Research Unit - found that in the majority of cases, board-level personnel had more of a say in fleet management than fleet managers themselves.

Hard on the heels of the Lex Report on Motoring, the Dial survey found fleet managers were the sole arbiters on company car policy in only 17% of companies questioned. Accountants or finance directors made fleet funding decisions in 27% of cases, while a further 21% of respondents said the board made such decisions. The survey also found that senior management liked to exercise control over more general areas of policy such as who qualifies for company cars and which types of vehicle best meet their needs.

In smaller companies, the research said the managing director settled such matters, while in larger concerns - especially those running fleets of more than 1,000 vehicles - the personnel director was commonly involved.

The survey also said outsourcing was on the increase as firms looked to cut costs but maintain service standards. According to the research, 16% of businesses now outsource fleet management - but the figure rises to 24% for fleets of more than 400 cars. Where companies stop short of full outsourcing, the Dial study found that maintenance, followed by emergency rescue, relief vehicles, short term car hire and accident management were the ancillary services most likely to be contracted out.

THE Dial survey said the company car was still one of the top business perks with minimal uptake of cash-for-car schemes. Less than 10% of employees working for organisations offering a cash alternative took the option and 60% of companies imposed no choice restrictions other than those dictated by salary and status.

54% of firms said their cars were 'mainly essential for work', 28% said they were mainly perks and 17% said they were a mixture. Nearly half of companies with between 20 and 100 vehicles have just one person managing the fleet and 84% have fewer than three, but 64% with fleets of over 1,000 vehicles have five employees engaged in fleet management.

The report said although companies were becoming more sophisticated in supplier management, the overall trend was to reduce 'multi-sourcing' in favour of longer term relationships with a smaller number of preferred suppliers. Researchers found 57% of firms now have preferred relationships with contract hire and fleet management companies and that 53% only receive quotations from existing suppliers. A quarter of companies who lease cars get one quotation, while 42% obtain fewer than three.

Price was the overriding factor in supplier choice, with 52% citing the cost as paramount, while only 35% earmarked service as most important. Service factors do, however, take precedence over price when customers are evaluating existing suppliers, with 35% of respondents saying poor service was most likely to make them change suppliers, while only 24% said cost was the key factor.

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