In small businesses where a full-time fleet manager role is not possible, the task of buying and managing company vehicles is often handed to procurement professionals, delegates at Fleet Live were told.
“I thought it was easy when I first started,” said David Oliver, now procurement manager at Red Bull. “I bought vehicles and then a few years later replaced them with ones with more features at no greater cost. Everyone was happy,” he said. “But that changed.”
Oliver manages Red Bull’s UK fleet of 220 vehicles – including 40 Wings Minis used for marketing purposes – as a fleet category, with a single controlling expert managing all the stakeholders to ensure consistency, value and strategic direction. In a category that is experiencing change, he offers these tips on how to get the right approach:
1. Soak up all the information you can
So you can stay on top of legislative changes, technology, and services. Attend events, talk to fleet managers, go out and talk to suppliers.
2. Do your homework
Discover what your business needs before engaging with suppliers. “Sit down and look at what you want. Talk to the professionals [in your business] and get to know what they need before you go out.”
3. Supplier relationship management is important
Go and talk to suppliers about what you want. “They may come back with some good ideas,” he said. Equally, keep the dialogue going with them, even if they don’t win this time. “Give them feedback,” he said, and ask them to let you know about changes. They may have something suitable for the next tender. This is particularly helpful in keeping them engaged if your company is not a big spender in fleet.
4. Keep an eye on the variable costs
“Accidents are not just about bent metal,” he said. There is also employee time when they can’t work because their vehicle is out of action. Monitor accidents and repairs. The Wings Minis tend to get damaged at weekends, Oliver said. “So we find storage solutions to get them off the road at weekends.” And post accident interviews with employees have greater impact if they take place with their line manager.
5. Look ahead
Things are changing all the time, so consider spending now to save later. “We spent on autonomous braking because it made sense for us,” he said. “We are now looking at online driver training with video tutorials.” Consider fleet in the context of mobility. Red Bull has found that company car use in urban environments is dropping, as staff increasingly use public transport. “Is it still worth it?” Be ready to take travel management into your mix, he said.
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