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Advice For Keeping Your Fleet On The Road From National Fleet Managers

Advice For Keeping Your Fleet On The Road From National Fleet Managers

Effectively managing uptime is crucial for any business that operates a fleet of company cars. 

This is ever more true for the services whose priority is to be available and mobile 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.

Two of the country’s pivotal services to public safety are breakdown and emergency services. If either were to be off the road for a significant amount of time each year, it would greatly effect the functioning of society, cost numerous lives, and have disastrous knock-on effects on the economy.

This is exactly why the fleet managers who take care of the company vehicles, have an integral and extremely demanding role.

 “You can’t just go and spot-hire a police car, and you certainly can’t do that with our armed vehicles, which have weapons storage, or our police dog vehicles with dog containment sections.” —John Gorton, head of transport at Kent and Essex Police

For the SME, advice from the experts could help keep their fleet operational, avoid impacting their bottom line, and help maintain brand and customer relations — particularly if vehicles are critical to the nature of your business.

Fleet News asked a number of national fleet managers, from the head of transport at Kent and Essex Police to the fleet managers of the RAC and AA, about their experiences and if they could share any advice for effectively managing vehicle uptime.

A common theme among the managers is that they outsource some of the work to an external fleet management provider. This helps manage their costs, services, maintenance, and above all, time.

Why Is minimising off-the-road time so essential?

“Any unplanned vehicle off-road time has the potential to extend the customer waiting time or ultimately force us to subcontract that repair or recovery to an approved garage…Reducing downtime is key for us because, just as with any large fleet operation, a vehicle that is off the road is not doing its job, which means effectively it is losing us business.”—Tim Hartles

How do you manage scheduled maintenance?

“We schedule vehicles in for maintenance every six months or 12,000 miles – whichever comes first – but for some it’s not enough. Ultimately, safety is our first priority and these vehicles wear faster: our response vehicles are under much more stress than a public vehicle…Telematics is helping with scheduling – our maintenance team know where vehicles are and how hard they are being driven. We can see which vehicles are being driven more often and ensure they are scheduled in as early as needed.” — John Gorton, Head of Transport at Kent and Essex Police

“Vans are booked by individual drivers to be serviced during the patrol’s rostered rest or leave periods, with service completion dates agreed within contract to limit vehicle unavailability.” – Chris Wiltshire, Fleet Manager at the AA

How do you manage unscheduled maintenance?

“There are always scenarios that you can’t prepare for with any fleet, the RAC’s included. All of our vehicles are mission critical, so engagement with the driver and the repair network is paramount to ensure we reach a solution quickly… Finding the nearest garage is not always the quickest answer, so we engage with a network of repairers to ensure downtime is kept to a minimum” —Tim Hartles, Fleet Manager at the RAC

“Unscheduled maintenance is managed via a triage system with major defects acted upon immediately and the vehicle removed from operations and repaired, either by a mobile engineer or workshop… Minor but roadworthy defects are repaired during vehicle downtime, or when the vehicle is delivered in for its planned maintenance.” —Trevor Thompson, Fleet Manager at SCFS

If you’d like to find out about our fleet management service or our other leasing options, leave us a comment, send us an email at info@marshall-leasing.co.uk, or call us 01480 414541.

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