Fleet News

Guest opinion: Leasing firms can help fleet problems

I CAME across a case the other day where a solicitor had taken a car on contract hire without maintenance. She drove the car for 100,000 miles without servicing. She must have had tyres and pads replaced at the very least, but apparently no servicing. My only surprise is that the car lasted as long as it did before finally expiring – it’s a real tribute to whatever make of car it was.

That may be an extreme case, but it does demonstrate the reason why cars on contract hire are generally better off having maintenance included.

Service periods are extending and the number of planned trips your cars may make to the workshop are falling year-on -year.

We now have many makes of cars that don’t see the inside of a workshop until they have covered 20,000 miles and that’s a recognition of how manufacturers have improved their product.

Even regular items that wear out, such as brake pads, are now lasting longer than ever. All this may be keeping costs down, which is plainly a good thing but it does have other ramifications.

Actually, it’s far more than just being about maintenance, of course. It’s to do with the core competencies that my side of the industry can offer your side of the industry.

As this is meant to be an opinion piece I won’t therefore turn it into a plug for contract hire – in fact, I wouldn’t do that anyway as many BVRLA members offer a wide variety of products in addition to contract hire. But let’s just explore for a couple of moments what I mean about contract hire being more than just about maintenance. Today’s modern fleet environment brings in a huge variety of issues fleet operators have to deal with.

Regulation piles upon regulation and you, the hard-pressed fleet operator, have an ever-increasing workload on your plate.

If you are using contract hire, as growing numbers of fleet managers are, then working in partnership with a company that understands your problems, is well informed and has systems and procedures in place to deal with the very latest regulations is a must.

Health and safety is set to play a bigger part in our lives. The concept of the car being used on business as an extension of the workplace is well established.

Employers have to ensure that not only do they comply with all H&S regulations but that their employees comply as well. But, while you may be confident from the employer’s point of view how do you know that your drivers are complying, too? Are they licensed? How about your policy on mobile phone use when driving? And if they’re using their own vehicle, is it MoT’d, does it have tax and is it insured for business use?

Lots of questions, probably rather too many answers.

But have you talked to your contract hire provider? Has it talked to you? Are you aware of the services over and above maintenance that he can provide? How about licence checking, service due warnings (appropriate especially in the case I quoted at the start of this article), cheaper tyre replacements, follow-on tax discs, courtesy and replacement cars and breakdown assistance?

Lots of questions, only one answer. Contract hire can provide a good deal more than you might imagine and that includes the one commodity we’d all like – peace of mind.

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