FleetCheck says many businesses are failing to ensure continuity in fleet departments during the summer holidays.
Unlike HR, finance or compliance departments, where plans to cover holidays and absences are taken seriously, FleetCheck says that the same level of care and attention is less often applied to company cars and vans.
Peter Golding, FleetCheck’s managing director, explained: “Considering the high degree of importance that the fleet has for many, many businesses, it is relatively rare to see comprehensive continuity planning in place. We tend to notice this seasonally and summer can definitely be an issue.
“This can potentially cause all kinds of problems. Probably the most likely are based around vehicle breakdown or accident. If a car or van suddenly needs a major repair, having no-one available who is familiar with the processes of finding a repairer, managing insurance claims, and authorising costs, can cause real disruption.”
Golding says that another common issue is quoting for work. “If your company is trying to price up a job and fleet costs are part of this, then there is an issue if no-one is available who can provide an informed pence-per-mile figure to take into account,” he said.
“Problems of this nature mean, very simply, that a lack of continuity around company vehicles are negatively affecting the day-to-day operations of your business.”
The problem, according to FleetCheck, appears to be more acute in organisations where the fleet department was managed using less formal or structured systems.
“If you just have one person with responsibility for the fleet, using paper or spreadsheets as their key management tools, it can be pretty difficult for others to step in,” continued Golding.
“A common problem is that the original user of the spreadsheet hasn’t supplied a key code for the various colours and letters that have been used.
“It is interesting to draw parallels with other departments that offer essential services. For example, an accounts team wouldn’t dream of going on holiday and leaving operations in a state where essential tasks couldn’t be easily carried out.”
In this kind of situation, Golding says the use of standard accounting tools that provided structure such as Sage or Quick Books made the situation easier.
“In most organisations, you’ll have a number of people who can use established software and step in for the absent person,” he said. “Even if that isn’t possible, you can call the support desk and almost certainly resolve your issue.
“Certainly, businesses that use fleet software have a head start when it comes to business continuity for the same reasons.
“There is a recognised structure for the way information and activities are handled, so it is easier for others to handle any problems that arise.”