Fleet News

Award winner's profile: Peak Performance

WHEN it comes to persuading fleets of the importance of improving safety, the facts alone can prove a winning argument.

About 66% of company vehicles are involved in a claim every year. Accidents mean vehicle down-time, missed deliveries, missed appointments, administration fees and damage to a company's image.

The average cost of repairing a crash-damaged vehicle is £700, while the total cost, including other business costs, could be a minimum of £2,800.

On average, insurance costs are rising at 25% a year, but typically, a company investing in a risk management programme will see insurance costs fall and crash frequency drop by up to 40%.

Facts also speak for themselves when you look at the success of Peak Performance in helping fleets achieve the savings by tackling risk management head-on.

For the third year running the company has taken the Best Risk Management Company trophy at the Fleet News Awards and, as a result, has seen business increase dramatically.

More than 10,000 people a year benefit from its training programmes in some way, with big industry names including BT and the Co-operative Group among its customers.

To cope with growing orders from customers for risk management support, the firm moved to new headquarters in Chesterfield, Derbyshire, where it had the space to manage its expansion.

A key factor in its growth is the well-documented success of the risk management schemes it has introduced for clients.

In December, food specialist Hitchen Foods came to Peak Performance for help because half the firm's 40-vehicle fleet was involved in an accident every year and 85% of those accidents were own-fault ones.

After introducing driving training with Peak Performance, the group has slashed accident rates by 40%.

Driver error has also improved, with at-fault accidents down to less than 25%.

This isn't an isolated success either, with an influential three year 'before and after' study revealing that fleets can slash their incident rates and insurance claims by a fifth through the introduction of risk management and driver training programmes.

The fleet risk management survey, carried out by Groupama Insurances, polled more than 400 fleets which have used Peak Performance and found that putting company drivers through a training programme reduced the frequency of accidents by up to 20%.

The study compared insurance claims before and after a driver training programme was introduced.

The fleets polled in the survey covered all business sectors and mainly involved company cars, but also included vans and minibuses.

For James Sutherland, managing director at Peak Performance, committing to consistent and predictable accident reduction is a core focus of the business, which now employs 25 people, including in-house trainers, with a support team of 37 additional trainers.

He said: 'This is not a gimmick business. There isn't a 'next big thing' or anything like that. Early on in the company's history, there was a view that there was a much bigger picture than just driver training.

'Having that culture in our business has helped us become much more health and safety orientated. We help businesses look at what they do, rather than just driver training.'

Face-to-face work is backed up by a website packed with advice and information about risk management.

Sutherland admits that in a perfect world, however, the more people exposed to extra training of any kind, the better, as the roads would be safer for everyone.

This is particularly true when looking at the different demands placed on private drivers and those using cars on business who cover tens of thousands of miles a year. One licence and driving test covers them both.

Sutherland said: 'It is relatively easy to become a private pilot and learn to fly a Cessna in the daytime, within visual range of the landing strip. But it is a completely different matter to fly a twin-engined plane in the dark, on instruments, in bad weather and you need further training for that. In a similar way, drivers need help to cope with covering large distances, often with the effect of fatigue, pressure and unfamiliar roads.'

His view is winning support among some of Britain's biggest fleets. BT has put health and safety at the top of its fleet agenda with a plan to put 5,000 of its line managers who have responsibility for company car drivers through a series of safety workshops.

The aim of the programme, believed to be one of the largest ever undertaken in the fleet industry, is to reduce accident rates and cut costs.

BT's group safety department and Peak Performance have jointly developed the workshop sessions that will run over two years. The phone giant operates about 40,000 liveried light and heavy commercial vehicles and a further 14,000 company cars.

BT calculates that if it can cut its accident rate by 10%, it will pay for the workshop programme 10 times over in reduced repair costs alone.

Sutherland said: 'It is one thing to say what you will do and another to actually have the resources to do it. We have shown we have the people to organise something as big as this.'

The contract is a long way from where the business began in 1989, but despite its growth it has retained many key customers for between five and 10 years.

This long-term commitment was recognised by the Fleet News Awards judges, who said: 'Peak Performance is to be congratulated for its long-term, rational and sober handling of risk management when the sheer quantity of legislation and safety issues facing fleet managers has created an environment that could lead to scaremongering.

'With excellent online services and a customer base that has quadrupled in five years, including some of the biggest fleet contracts available, it has led the way again this year.'

For Sutherland, the wins have reflected a strategic decision to ensure the company was an award-winning proposition.

He said: 'When we won for the third time in a row, we were absolutely delighted. We have grown in a competitive business and shown we can stand out.'

For the future, Peak Performance is assured of an increasing profile in fleet, as health and safety continues to move up the corporate agenda.

Sutherland added: 'Vans are a very big grey area and that will be important for us in the future. A lot of companies have been looking at the weight of health and safety legislation and speed issues, and companies are realising they have to do something.

'It is more effective to have a driver sticking to the speed limit than sitting at home with 12 points on his licence.

'Our role in helping companies with no internal fleet management resource is important. We can ensure we are a link between the managers, drivers and policy makers, effectively creating an outsourced fleet safety co-ordinator.'

But above all, Peak Performance will retain its commitment to customer service that has kept customers loyal for so many years.

Sutherland said: 'One of the things that has made us successful is our customer relationship management and we are fiercely proud of that.

'It is a business-orientated ethic and we have invested an awful lot in meeting customers' needs.'

The facts

  • As many as 30% of all serious road injuries and fatalities involve someone driving for work. Ten drivers die on Britain's roads every day

  • Every year road accidents result in 40,000 serious injuries.

  • A 35-year-old driver averaging 25,000 miles per year has on average only received 10 hours' driver training, but probably nothing in the last 18 years.

  • A driver averaging 25,000 miles a year has a similar risk of fatality as that of a coal miner or construction worker.

  • Most drivers have a poor understanding of what caused their accident, often referred to as the 'All of a sudden…' syndrome.

  • For males under the age of 25, road crashes are the single biggest cause of fatality and serious injury.

  • Most high mileage company car drivers consider their vehicle as 'the office' and it is very easy to be distracted in the office……

  • 66% of company car vehicles are involved in a claim every year. What is that doing to your company's business continuity and efficiency, vehicle down time, missed deliveries, missed appointments, administration fees, company image?

  • The average cost of repairing a crash-damaged vehicle is £700. Research suggests that the total cost of a road crash can be anywhere between four and 32 times the 'bent metal'.

  • On average, insurance costs are rising at 25% a year. The only way you can negate this for your company is by taking control of your driving risk.

  • Safe drivers use less fuel, cause less wear and tear on vehicles and promote a positive company image. Fewer crashes mean lower insurance premiums and less direct cost through high policy excesses.

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