FUEL MANAGEMENT: A light right foot is all you need (continued)
16 May 2007
James Langley, deputy chairman at the Institute of Car Fleet Management, concurs: "You should never introduce blanket targets. You can't assess mpg for those serving London and then give handouts to those spending the majority of their time driving at 50-60mph. Instead, you should be looking at sharing the benefits."
Here's how it should work. Driving efficiency schemes such as SaFED (Safe and Efficient Driving) for vans say that altering driving style can bring conservative fuel savings of up to 10%. Taking the 10% average over a £2000 fuel spend will net a £200 saving. Instead of pocketing that and congratulating the driver, share say £50 of that saving.
The difference between this and the winner-takes-all approach is that every driver will get a reward for driving efficiently. Fuel card providers can help tailor the scheme for each individual by tracking a driver's mpg over a desired time period to calculate the average they have to beat.
And there's an added bonus. According to Langley, "research shows fuel-efficient driving is linked to reduced accident rates and severity".
Now the stick
"The issue that arrives with introducing incentives is, if you incentivise those who succeed, do you sanction those who don't?" says Langley. The problem is, how? Back to Arval's Mike Waters:
"There is the anecdote over handing back a hire car in a real state - there will probably be an extra charge and the employee themselves will expect it. If you're wasting fuel unnecessarily, you too are incurring your company a cost. What's the difference?
“You should never introduce blanket targets. You can't assess mpg for those serving London and then give handouts to those spending the majority of their time driving at 50-60mph.”
James Langley, deputy chairman at the Institute of Car Fleet Management
"The stick too may well be considered an equally effective method, but it depends on the culture," says Waters. For example, some companies may want to implement some sort of financial penalty for the worst drivers, while others may think imposing driver training is a better way forward.
If, however, punishing drivers isn't the direction you want to take, Waters suggests perhaps tying fuel-efficient driving awards into an existing employee of the month scheme could work. For some, even mention in a company newsletter could be enough to encourage more efficient driving and is the cheapest way possible of drawing out best practice without reward. However, that's something ICFM's Langley warns strongly against.
"Public acknowledgement gives rise other dangers - you have to be very careful the winner is perceived reasonably by the target audience," says Langley. And what happens if the wrong kind of person consistently wins? One anecdote concerns a car condition prize that was set up to boost fleet disposal prices. It concerned the guy in accounts who did 5000 private miles a year, constantly beating fellow employees who racked up 30,000 miles and therefore couldn't compete with him. From the first time he scooped the prize the competition was rendered redundant in the eyes of those competing.
Go forth, innovate
Incentives don't necessarily have to be cash-in-hand based. If, for example, your staff do private miles, the message should be that what is saved at work driving efficiently can also be saved during out-of-office hours. Or perhaps prestige rentals could be the answer. How about a week in a Porsche for the most feather-footed fuel saver? But be careful - once again you may be singling out someone with an unfair advantage.
Incentives may on first glance be yet another buzzword that entails admin hell, but once every firm undergoes a carbon audit, it could be the difference between your company winning or losing its next contract.