Fleet News

Fleet funding: How to take the guesswork out of budgeting for a fleet

  • Summary

    Maintbook forecasts the service, maintenance and repair costs of fleet vehicles. It uses:

  • Data from manufacturers.
  • Averaged labour rates based on national surveys.
  • Prices of scheduled service parts.
  • Contingency allowance.
  • Opinion of experienced staff.
  • Feedback from SMR Forum.

    IT’S generally acknowledged that the greatest risk when procuring and running a fleet of cars is residual values.

    As such, there are a plethora of services – such as CAP and Glass’s Guide – that aim to predict what a car will be worth after it has served its time on the fleet.

    But perhaps the second biggest financial risk when looking at new vehicles is the cost of keeping them on the road – servicing, maintenance and repair, generally known as SMR.

    Maintbook is the CAP or Glass’s Guide of the SMR world. Run by a firm called Motorconsult, it aims to take some of the guesswork away from fleet managers trying to budget for new cars or vans. With a background in providing statistics for the leasing market, it is now trying to work its way into the affections of fleets, large and small.

    Despite its name, Maintbook is not a book – it is a software package, complete with reams of data on virtually every new car and van on the UK market. It is regularly updated and it takes just a few clicks for fleet managers to find out what will cost how much over what time.

    ‘To compare us with CAP or Glass’s is a very good analogy,’ says Motorconsult’s commercial director Ian Hare.

    ‘The Maintbook data comes from raw figures comprising manufacturer service schedules, labour rates, parts designated for a particular service and the prices. Maintenance prices includes brake pads, tyres, exhausts and so forth – anything that you could expect to be replaced over the life of the vehicle. There will be a contingency price built in as well.

    ‘We obtain the basic, raw data from manufacturers and then survey across the UK for labour rates – we don’t take the manufacturers’ word for it. On top of that we put our expert opinion in with regard to component wear rates.’

    Expert opinion might seem somewhat subjective, but Motorconsult’s staff have many years of experience and close links to the industry.

    ‘We’re talking to our clients all the time,’ Mr Hare says, ‘and in association with the British Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association (BVRLA) we run the SMR Forum three times a year for maintenance and operations managers and directors.

    ‘We get together to talk about matters affecting SMR and administration of vehicles out on the road. It may come up that wear rates on such a vehicle are particularly bad – we pick up on that kind of information all the time.’

    Motorconsult’s staff includes former members of the leasing industry and those who have worked in maintenance management.

    ‘We have the in-house experts to pool our knowledge to come up with our views,’ Mr Hare says. ‘It’s in much the same way that Glass’s or CAP staff pool their views to come up with residual values.

    ‘We’re viewed by manufacturers as being in the same category. We’re consulted on new models because manufacturers realise that SMR costs do have a big impact.

    ‘How much they do that varies from manufacturer to manufacturer. Some have been switched on for a while but over the last two years or so there has been a progressive realisation that SMR is nearly as important as RVs.’

    Once the numbers have been crunched, the data is sent out to subscribers who receive an update on disc once a month and can download weekly updates as well. Those with the full version of Maintbook can then tailor the figures to their particular circumstances.

    ‘Let’s say the labour rate in their region is lower than the average we use, or they predominantly do motorway driving and get more miles from their tyres. They can tailor it to their own requirements,’ Mr Hare says.

    ‘You therefore end up with a tool that can forecast what spend is likely to be on SMR over any given period and mileage.’

    More than 80% of the FN50 – the top 50 UK leasing companies – use Maintbook, reflecting the initial customer targeting by Motorconsult.

    But more recently the firm has been branching out and has launched a cut-down, read-only version of the product, aimed at smaller fleets.

    ‘We believe this is relevant to corporate users trying to manage their fleets,’ Mr Hare says.

    ‘Anyone running owner-operated fleets could find it useful.’

    The cost of Maintbook depends a great deal on the client and fleet size, but as a rough guide, the basic, read-only version is available from £1,000 a year.

    Websites

  • www.motorconsult.co.uk.
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