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It's almost time to turn back the clocks, which brings long, dark nights and a whole host of challenging driving conditions. With less daylight and the risk of heavy rain, fog, ice and even snow, keeping a fleet on the road and ensuring drivers are safe through winter is top of the agenda for smaller businesses at this time of year.
Whether it's travelling from meetings or making deliveries, freezing temperatures and inclement weather make breakdowns a real concern. SMEs have a duty of care to their drivers, but if employees are using their own vehicles or even older cars on a company fleet the risk of staff getting stranded on the side of the road while travelling for work should be a concern.
Keeping business moving is also key. Smaller businesses with just a small number of vehicles, could be crippled by any accidents or breakdowns. Without backup vehicles, any downtime could spell missed orders and deliveries, and that could mean a hit on the customer experience.
Part of the problem with the British winter is the fact that the weather is so changeable, with the last few winters throwing unexpected snow into the mix. This means businesses coping with seasonal demand could be caught out if they don't have alternatives in place.
Vehicle rental offers SMEs access to a wide range of vehicles at short notice. This means they only pay for the vehicles they need, rather than buying and owning depreciating assets or signing up to lengthy contracts, which become a burden in quieter periods. It's not commercially viable for most small businesses to run a fleet that can cope with any weather extremes, but vehicle hire solves that problem.
Crucially, Europcar maintains a fleet of vehicles that are, on average, less than six months old and fitted with the latest technology. This means businesses can meet seasonal demands, without changes in the weather impacting on their productivity. In addition, with a fleet fully covered by 24-hour roadside assistance, at no extra cost, firms gain the peace of mind they need when it comes to keeping their drivers safe this winter.
Sam Sterry is head of SME for Europcar UK Group