A few years ago, the industry was being criticised for failing to innovate or come up with new ideas, so decision-makers were more inclined to buy products based on price, rather than the exclusive range of services on offer.
But the growing pressures placed on fleets related to health and safety have changed all that, sparking a flurry of new service launches over the past year.
What makes these launches different is that they have been driven directly by the demands of fleet operators, desperate for advice to help them cope with the growing extent of their responsibilities, ranging from simple licence checks to in-depth analysis of accident risk.
Most leasing companies now offer some form of accident management service and many offer varying types of risk management packages, all provided for an additional fee and mainly relying on outsourced services.
Among the latest launches is a product to bring the simplicity and fixed-cost element of contract hire to the more unpredictable world of risk management.
Lloyds TSB autolease has launched Fleet Sense, which combines risk assessment and driver training into one product available for a single monthly fee that is simply added to the monthly bill for leasing a vehicle.
Its simplicity is a vital selling point and it is aggressively priced, starting at £2.25 per month per driver, including a fleet audit, reviews of fleet management policies, driver profiles and licence checks.
Adam Trevaskus, head of corporate sales at Lloyds TSB, said: ‘We feel this is an important development because it addresses the reasons why companies so far have not launched a fleet risk management programme.’
After the data is collected, an analysis of potential risks is drawn up. Drivers can then be recommended for either online or practical training, and templates of policies, procedures and driver guides customised to individual clients’ needs.
The focus on health and safety has been driven by repeated Government demands for the fleet industry to do something about its accident statistics.
Many fleets report accident rates of at least 60% – meaning the equivalent of 60% of the fleet is crashing every year – while some firms have reported a 120% crash rate. A major investigation into work-related road safety found that about one-third of road deaths each year could be work-related and the Government has published a document, called Driving At Work, designed to show how companies should be looking after their drivers.
Despite this, a survey last year by Nottingham Business School showed that 79% of companies questioned had no fleet risk management strategy.
Peter Schofield, head of marketing for Lloyds TSB autolease, said: ‘Companies hoping road traffic accidents will not affect them are avoiding the issue.
‘In other areas of health and safety at work, directors of major companies do not wait for prosecutions before they take action, because people understand the risks to the business from not complying. This arises not from the threat of criminal prosecution, but the potential damage to the company’s brand and reputation.
‘This service is about making it easier for companies to meet health and safety obligations by addressing the key concerns that have prevented most companies from taking action so far.
‘We are providing fleet decision-makers with a simple, straightforward path towards compliance, which has not been available up to now.’