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Adrian Bewley's blog: Breaking down is hard to do

Date: 10 April 2017

Analysis of our data indicates that around one in ten of all business rentals are replacement cars: vehicles provided when an employee's company car is unavailable because it's broken down or been in an accident.
Many fleets manage the supply of replacement vehicles as closely as they do new vehicle acquisition or periodic maintenance. They know that it's not just about getting your people mobile, but keeping them that way.
However, we find lots of organisations assume that high-quality replacement vehicles are automatically in place from their insurers or bodyshops. This is where issues can arise.
If an employee's car becomes unavailable, it leads to all manner of hassles. Employees can often be left stranded if fleet managers, repairers, breakdown companies and car hire organisations don't work effectively together.
For the company car user and 'perk' driver alike, sorting out a replacement vehicle should be a priority and shouldn't be difficult. But all too often it can be, especially if the breakdown company works with one car hire provider and the fleet manager has another arrangement with another provider. Finding a like-for-like replacement can lead to operational disruption and unhappy employees.  
When a breakdown occurs and there are separate providers, drivers get one hire car for the first 48 hours of their repair time, but then have to swap it out for another from a different provider afterwards. Using a single rental company means they're not inconvenienced twice and the hire is provided for all the downtime.
When it comes to commercial vehicle fleets, a single lost day of goods delivery or equipment not on-site can lead to hours of lost work and thousands in costs. However, the costs involved in office workers waiting for a replacement car, sitting by the side of the road or in a rental office, are equally significant.
An accident or breakdown leads to downtime and business continuity challenges that can negatively affect the company's reputation (because the employee didn't show up on time), costs (due to delays and missed opportunities) and, of course, operational efficiency.
Ensuring rental companies have tri-party agreements to ensure continuation of hire, with full visibility of the repair process, is important. Giving fleet managers access to real-time repair updates linked to hire management systems will become key to providing workforce mobility whilst limiting operational disruption. Mapping out employee locations to ensure that replacement vehicles can be speedily provided, wherever drivers break down, is also crucial.
We know that most fleets are keen to progress towards a more holistic approach to business mobility, a 24/7 on-demand model that reduces stress, removes the need for dozens of update phone calls and minimises downtime.
But this needs to extend to situations where something goes wrong with fleet vehicles and replacements are required. Companies should always make sure that agreements are in place to keep their drivers on the road.

Adrian Bewley is director of business rental at Enterprise Rent-A-Car