The fleet industry is better placed to handle the challenges of a national lockdown as a result of new skills learnt at the start of the pandemic, according to the Association of Fleet Professionals (AFP).
Chair Paul Hollick (pictured) explained that while there was widespread fatigue surrounding the current situation, industry professionals now knew exactly how to handle its demands.
“Fleet managers are now experienced in this area and almost have a ‘lockdown mode’ into which they shift, where they move to meet a different set of priorities and needs from when looser restrictions are in place.
“The situation is completely different from last Spring, when we were faced with a long list of unknowns and had to improvise our way through an unprecedented situation. This week, we once again are finding ourselves in an emergency but it’s now a familiar one, and fleets know what needs to be done,” he said.
Hollick highlighted the most important management responsibilities fall on fleets involved with the running of essential services, such as the NHS and, this time around, those involved in the distribution of the mass vaccination programme.
Other businesses, such as online shopping delivery firms, also face increased demand over the coming weeks.
Fleet managers must also look at the ongoing effects of laying up company cars for a further period and consider the implications for everything from maintenance and safety to taxation and vehicle storage.
The seven week lockdown could create some space for businesses running cars and vans to take a wider look at their future vehicle and transport needs.
Hollick said: “We’d very much encourage fleet professionals to make positive use of this time, which is something that many have done during the previous lockdowns. It would be useful for them to consider issues such as the future shape of their fleet or the fact that, if the vaccination programme is effective quickly, we could be looking at a fairly rapid remobilisation of relatively normal operations.
“Also, we’d urge them to take a perhaps use this time to increase their skills. We saw an uptick in demand for the AFP’s training courses during the previous two lockdowns, and new proficiencies will undoubtedly help fleet managers to prepare for the new normal, whatever that eventually looks like.”