Fleet News

Tough tycoon keeps fleet on tight leash

HE is renowned for his hard-hitting approach to business – and now this tough stance has filtered down to entrepreneur John Caudwell’s company car fleet.

Drivers at mobile phone provider The Caudwell Group – owner of Phones 4u – will be denied their expenses claims if they fail to carry out vehicle checks under a new initiative launched by the fleet to ensure its duty of care obligations are being met.

When completing online expenses, drivers will be asked if they have completed checks including oil, MoT, tyre pressures and servicing. If they fail to tick the relevant boxes, the fleet management system, which is linked to the HR department’s intranet, will not process their expenses.

The no-compromise initiative will be introduced shortly, according to compensation and benefits manager Claire Walker, who is also responsible for the 1,700-strong fleet.

She explained: ‘We are currently developing this system which should be available in the next two months, covering both company car drivers and cash allowance drivers.

‘For me it is all about risk exposure management as it reduces the risk of being sued for corporate manslaughter. If a driver is found to have lied on the form they face disciplinary action, including a fine.’

One risk management expert said that although the new system would create an audit trail, it was vital in these situations that drivers do actually complete the checks.

Andy Price, practice leader – motor fleet at Zurich Risk Services, said: ‘This is a good idea as it helps drivers think about their responsibilities. But the question is: are drivers actually completing the checks or just ticking the boxes?

‘It is a great step forward but fleet managers need to ensure that checks are being completed.’

Walker has overseen a huge transition for the Caudwell fleet, moving from a paper-based operation to Jaama's online fleet management system, Key2.

As a result, fleet bosses claim they are saving thousands of pounds every month and have slashed invoice queries from 150 a month to zero.

Fortune made from mobile phones

JOHN Caudwell is credited for growing his business from a start-up to one worth more than £2 billion in 18 years.

He moved into the mobile phone industry in the mid-1980s after working as an engineer at Michelin and running a car repair business.

Caudwell believed he could gain a commercial advantage at car auctions if he found a means of speaking with potential customers as he assessed cars.

Payphones were either inaccessible or had huge queues. He was told a mobile phone would cost £1,500. After asking whether he would receive a discount for two, he was told he would, but only if he became a dealer – which he did.

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