Three months down the line, unused running shoes hang in the cupboard while direct debit payments continue to the gym.
It can be a similar story with fleets and rental vehicles. Companies order vehicles for weeks at a time only for cars to be left dormant in the company car park because of poor management systems. Rental fees are still paid but drivers fail to utilise the assets.
But there are ways to ensure rental vehicles are not wasted. In order to do this, fleets need clear communication with rental providers, a cost- effective rental contract and suitable technology to manage the process.
Neil McCrossan, vice- president commercial development at National, explained: ‘The key to fleet managers getting the most out of their rental providers is ensuring that from the outset, the potential supplier has a complete picture of the challenges and opportunities faced by the business.
‘Two-way communication should be the start of an on-going process to ensure that the solution provided adapts and changes as the needs of the business change.’
Many fleets assume a longer-term contract will be more cost-effective but ordering rental vehicles as and when employees require them can work out cheaper.
Don Moore, vice-president of sales, UK & Ireland at Enterprise Rent-A-Car, said: ‘It isn’t cost-effective to have a rental car on a longer-term contract sitting idle for 50% of the time on the forecourt.’
But daily charges for vehicles are often higher than longer contracts, so if the vehicle is left redundant the losses are higher. Rental companies are flexible and will be able to offer packages to suit individual fleets.
McCrossan said: ‘A fleet manager may even want to consider using a pool car fleet, which is managed by the rental provider.
‘This means that rather than a fixed fleet of pool cars, the company can change the size of the fleet and the vehicle groups according to the demands of the business, ensuring vehicles are being utilised effectively.’
Most rental companies have a website and most offer an online booking service. This means fleets are able to manage their rental needs online and should mean unused rental vehicles are a thing of the past.
Stuart Gent, managing director at Avis, said: ‘Initiatives such as the provision of microsites where companies can manage all their rental requirements through their intranet give fleets more high quality management information which helps reduce, rather than increase costs.’
Having this information supplied in a format that is easy to understand can also reduce costs. Not only will it reduce the admin work load for the fleet manager but it should reduce the number of errors in the long run.
Trefor Jones, managing director of Fourways Vehicle Solutions, said: ‘A smoothly run account can save your organisation a lot of money and you a lot of heartache. Think about all those hours spent rectifying incorrect invoices. For some fleet managers this time can really mount up and time, as they say, is money.’
Rental systems should allow fleet managers to allocate the correct level of vehicle to members of staff. A sure way to lose revenue is to allocate a luxury saloon to a low scale employee for local trips.
Des McCann, director of UK network and operations at Budget, said: ‘Companies should examine how their staff use rental vehicles to ensure that unnecessarily large vehicles are not being hired at extra expense.’
The tips for getting the most from your daily rental company
1. Service levels
Recognise that a successful relationship means both parties need to benefit. Therefore agree service levels to cover all aspects of the rental transaction and relationship
2. Reservation routes
A good vehicle rental organisation will offer a choice of reservation routes, online, phone, fax, email or a combination of all to suit your needs. Online reservations will automatically load your account details and driver profiles and will control the type of vehicle being booked by the employee
3. Management information
Reports on vehicle usage should be accessible at any time with flexibility over the level and frequency of reporting. Online interactive reports should be comprehensive and allow comparison and trends reporting for a business
4. Mandate travel policies
Rental policies should be applied to all reservation routes. Ensure driver profiles can be created to speed up the booking time and improve accuracy of information
5. Flexible rental solutions
Some rental companies offer flexible options for medium-term rental for cars and commercial vehicles. This may be a more cost-effective option in the case of new starters and employees on fixed-term contracts
Ensure you have access to vehicles fit for the differing demands of the business. Also, make certain the fleet has the ability to be flexible according to demand and can be moved if necessary between locations to ensure your needs can always be met
Check the provider has a good network of rental locations in the areas in which you operate. This is important if you are a national or international business and have various sites across the UK and worldwide – you want to know there is a location near to each of your sites to service your requirements
8. Airport locations
Check where the airport branches are as some may be quite a distance off site
9. One way rentals
Ensure vehicles can be collected from one location and returned to another for one-way trips. Many smaller providers cannot offer this service
10. Employee benefits
Staff probably rent cars privately when on holiday. Pick a rental partner who can provide them with competitive holiday rental rates for all the top tourist destinations. This is a great staff benefit at no cost to you