Fleet News

Award-winning advice from a Peak performer

JAMES Sutherland, managing director of double Fleet News Awards winner Peak Performance, talks about how his firm achieved success.

If Peak Performance thought it had reached its pinnacle after scooping the 2002 Fleet News Awards title of Best Risk Management Company, it was wrong. After introducing a host of innovative new products, the company returned to secure the title – sponsored by Vauxhall Motors – once again at this year's gala event in March.

James Sutherland, managing director of the group, credits the success of the company to a consistent, solid team that has enabled the business to achieve considerable growth during the past 14 years with a range of new products and an ever-increasing customer base.

He said: 'It would be easy to say that winning the Fleet News awards for two consecutive years is our biggest achievement and this is certainly a tangible outcome of our success. However, we are equally pleased with the consistency with which we have been able to keep growing the business through both good times and bad.'

The judges at the awards were impressed by Peak's knowledge of the important issues facing fleets.

They said: 'Peak Performance has secured this award for the second year running, thanks to a determined effort to build on last year's success with new initiatives and a continued focus on excellence. It has a real grasp of the full spectrum of risk management issues for fleets, which accounts for its impressive customer retention and growth in the past year.'

Peak prides itself on supplying several industries with driver training and risk management services. Clients include BT, HSBC, Orange, Agfa and Groupama Insurance. One of its most recent signings is rail construction group Geoffrey Osborne, which hopes to reduce its annual fuel bill by £50,000 a year after implementing one of Peak's risk management programmes.

It hopes to make significant savings by cutting its £1 million annual fuel bill through improvements to employees' driving styles, while also making them more aware of risks, thanks to Peak.

As a result, Geoffrey Osborne has launched workshops and driving coaching and has even trained some drivers to act as risk assessors for their colleagues' driving awareness and skills.

Peak has strived to increase its blue chip customer base but the company also hopes to encourage more small fleets to put in place risk management programmes.

Sutherland said: 'Small fleets could be very important to us but they are often overlooked. We know about the large fleets but there is a vast number of small businesses to which we could provide a valuable service. Penetrating this market will be a considerable challenge for us.'

Peak has completely reviewed its operations over the last two years. The company now has a fully employed workforce of 24 – an increase of 30% on the previous two years – and is planning to move to new, larger offices.

The past 14 years have seen Peak grow from offering one-day defensive driving courses to providing a range of driving, health and safety and risk management services for fleets.

Sutherland said: 'We are now spread across the market with innovative products such as interactive online risk assessments, driver risk awareness workshops and safety management systems.

'What sets us apart from our competitors is that we are thoroughly focused and put quality and service at the core of our operations. Driving risk management is how we earn our living and we are very good at it.'

Looking towards the future, Peak's priorities lie in promoting the importance of driving risk management and duty of care to companies.

In response to the Health and Safety Executive's increased emphasis on work-related road safety, Sutherland said: 'Fleets need to formally recognise the importance of this issue and bite the bullet. In the past, the role of the fleet manager hasn't been sufficiently concerned about safety management but only about the efficient acquisition, management and disposal of vehicles.

'Now, having to add this to their role presents them with fresh challenges. Peak exists to help fleets implement complete driving safety management systems, the benefits of which are clear.'

One thing is for sure – Peak has got its work cut out this year.

As the industry strives for safer and yet more economical fleets, risk management companies have the task of persuading more fleets to address safety issues.

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