The challenges SMEs face in getting their fleets back on the road
The fleet management software for small and medium-sized companies, Vimcar has announced its official launch into the UK market with new research into the challenges that businesses are facing to get on the road. As the latest figures from the Department for Transport reveal that light commercial vehicle traffic in the UK has returned to pre-lockdown levels, Vimcar's survey of German SMEs provides a useful steer as to what these businesses can expect.
Because lockdowns began to ease months before the UK, German SMEs are already dealing with the next economic phase and adapting to the ‘new normal’ UK fleet managers will soon face.
More than half of the SMEs surveyed (55%) have introduced new hygiene regulations for their business fleets, although worryingly two-thirds (65%) of those businesses admitted that their disinfection of vehicles was not being documented. Of the 18% that were documenting hygiene procedures, most were doing so manually with hand-written lists.
These findings suggest that, whilst necessary, extra hygiene regulations will inevitably prove a cost and resource drain on UK SMEs, who are already struggling to get back on their feet.
As businesses adjusted to lockdown, it’s not surprising that 59% of SMEs were seeing a decrease in business trips. During lockdown, employees were using pool cars for personal trips, with 35% of German SMEs having seen this. Despite these challenges and with travel restrictions easing, almost two thirds (60%) are not planning to reduce the size of their fleet, and 15% are actually planning to invest in more vehicles.
Andreas Schneider, Founder and CEO of Vimcar said: “As consumers have become more reliant than ever on home deliveries and engineer visits it’s notable that German businesses aren’t planning to reduce their fleet or halt plans to order new vehicles. We’d expect to see similar in the UK. As customer satisfaction becomes crucial to how businesses rebuild after lockdown those businesses that are able to manage their vehicles as efficiently and cost-effectively as possible, providing accurate ETAs and ensuring visits are not missed, will be in pole position.”
Vimcar has already equipped over 90,000 vehicles with its SaaS solutions in Germany, Austria and Switzerland. Vimcar solutions are developed specially for the needs of small and medium-sized fleets with up to 200 vehicles, and aim to substantially reduce the amount of time, labour and money needed for SMEs to manage their fleets.
Key functions of the easy-to-use Vimcar Fleet GEO product includes real time vehicle tracking, digital theft protection and geo-fencing. Unlike other solutions on the market, Vimcar solutions are truly plug and play - they can be self installed in any vehicle in minutes, without the need for professional installation. From there, the user-friendly and intuitive software means that users simply log in and track.
Ronald Clancy, UK Managing Director of Vimcar said: “SMEs in the UK are currently facing numerous economic and market challenges, which make increasing productivity and optimising costs essential. On average we’ve enabled customers to save at least 10% of their fleet management costs, and cut the amount of time they’re spending on this by 25%. By offering UK SMEs a product which is easy to set up and use we can help them to survive the current challenging climate and then, hopefully, thrive.”
One UK business already benefiting from Vimcar Fleet Geo is Doherty’s Meats, one of Northern Ireland’s meat producers. With a strict emphasis on quality, Doherty’s Meats needs to deliver products quickly to customers several times a week. A high performing fleet is essential to their business, and the ability to track vehicles in real time has proved valuable.
Brian McQuaid, Sales and Marketing Manager of Doherty’s Meats, commented: “Once, one of our vehicles had a breakdown. I was able to call the mechanic to describe exactly where the broken down vehicle was, saving a lot of time and hassle. Now, when a customer calls and asks for a delivery, we are able to give them ETAs. We have hundreds of customers and it’s great to be able to see which van is closest to which customer: a real selling point.”
Union Plumbing, a West Yorkshire-based gas and engineering firm, is also using Vimcar Fleet Geo to make customer visits more efficient. With several engineering teams on the road at once Union Plumbing needs a fleet that runs smoothly so clients receive that promised service from engineers, in a timely manner. Being able to see where drivers are at all times is helping Union Plumbing to give customers exact ETAs and ensure that someone is at home when the engineer arrives.
“Our reputation is incredibly important to us,” said Hanna Wise, Company Administrator at Union Plumbing. “Now, when we knock and nobody is home, we can prove to the customer that we were actually there when we said we would be. What’s really good is being able to give live updates to customers without disturbing engineers on the road.”