For some companies, the grey fleet approach can sound very appealing. On the surface, it seems to cut out a considerable amount of the time and cost usually associated with managing a fleet. But it’s all too easy to be lulled into a false sense of security.
Increasingly, grey fleets are proving a more expensive and time-consuming option than they first appear. There is also the issue of control. When choosing a grey fleet over other options, many of the elements which would usually be under Management’s control are suddenly in the hands of employees. Certain questions need to be addressed. For example, are your employees properly insured? How many miles are they really clocking up? Does their current vehicle have a good service history, or is it an accident waiting to happen? If you don’t know the answers, it’s time to take a serious look at your fleet. Otherwise, you could be storing up trouble for yourself and your employees in the future.
So, ask yourself: should any of these be keeping you awake at night?
- Employees driving without the correct insurance: In an ideal world all of your grey fleet drivers would have informed their insurance company about the business use of their vehicle and would be completely covered in the event of an accident. But in reality, you can’t be sure this is the case until you’ve actually checked. It’s worth remembering that if a staff member is involved in an incident while on company business, then you could be liable if problems arise.
- Old vehicles presenting a safety hazard: One of the benefits of a company fleet is the peace of mind gained from knowing that vehicles will be regularly serviced and repaired. With a grey fleet, the guarantee is not there. If your staff members end up using vehicles that are not adequately maintained then the risk of an accident increases. Since you have a Duty of Care towards any employee driving on company time – whether they are in a company car or their own – a certain amount of that responsibility rests on your shoulders.
- Over-inflated mileage claims: Mileage capture is a common problem for fleet managers. Without adequate monitoring in place, it’s easy to lose track of team activity and to waste money as a result. For businesses that have an established company car scheme there are obvious solutions – such as telematics. But when it comes to grey fleet vehicles the options are limited. How do you know that the claims you’re being given are accurate? Processes need to be put in place to help manage this.
- Employees not being fit to drive: Driver checks can get overlooked when it comes to grey fleet management, but they should be just as much of a priority as for a company fleet. If a staff member is unfit to drive – whether due to physical limitations, previous convictions, or for any other reason, such as having a valid license – then the Duty of Care lies with you.
- Company image not being upheld: Finally, if ‘impression’ is in any way important to business, then you could be doing your company a disservice by not offering them an alternative to driving their own car. There could be many reasons why a private vehicle doesn’t quite fit with your company’s image – from its colour to its condition. It will certainly make an impression if your team arrives at a new business meeting in a vehicle with paint flaking off and its exhaust trailing behind it. Whether it’s the impression you want to make is another matter.
- Cost to the employee: With recent changes in vehicle emissions it might well be that staff who opted out of the company car and took up the cash option to save money would now be better off coming back in. When was the last time you and they did the sums?