Adrian Bewley's blog: Flexibility is appealing, but what does it mean for fleets?
12 June 2017
Flexibility is something customers are asking for a lot. With increased uncertainty at present and the General Election and Brexit painting an unclear economic picture for the future, flexibility sounds like a good option.
In our commercial vehicle business, we're seeing customers switch to shorter-term flexible contracts as an easy way to access their mobility requirement.
Customers are turning to flexible contracts for their liveried/non-liveried vehicles to allow their business to flex as demand fluctuates throughout the year, as maintaining a fixed number of vehicles can often restrict a company's ability to grow.
For car fleets, flexibility can be more complex. There's not much option on the core fleet, so what can be done to provide flexibility in other areas?
Organisations of all shapes and sizes want vehicles that fulfil all of their operational requirements, whether that's for a day, a month or a couple of years, but can be immediately returned at any time if the picture changes.
For one, that can mean a 'virtual' fleet of pool cars where there's immediate availability of both hourly and daily rental. It can also mean access to longer-term products that enable them to keep and use vehicles for a month, a year or even longer.
The arrival of car clubs, meanwhile, has offered a greatly increased level of flexibility to travel planning and provided yet another alternative to the grey fleet for shorter journeys. They offer a more flexible car 'pool' and can be quickly scaled up or down.
Globally, if you're unsure where your workforce might be located over the next few years, flexibility means planning ahead by thinking about where those people might be. Talk to your rental company about its coverage in those markets so that you can pick up those requirements quickly as your plans change.
Flexibility is also vital in terms of service, especially as working habits change. They said 2017 would be the year virtual/flexible working came into its own, which so far seems to be true.
Planning travel requirements with customers isn't only about where mapping company locations are based and key destinations in the home market and overseas. It includes supporting employees who home-work and may require a vehicle in more remote residential locations. This means providing a range of delivery and pick up services.
We've been working with our customers to determine their likely business travel needs over the coming months. The long-term implications of Brexit and the election are still unknown, but these issues have highlighted that fleets might need to take a step back and think about their motoring needs more holistically and strategically. Fleets will probably be looking for a more flexible approach to their business travel.