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What does Brexit mean for fleets?

By Simon Austin February 28, 2019

Since the result of the EU referendum on 23rd June 2016, businesses and industry bodies across the UK have attempted to analyse and predict its potential consequences.   

By early 2018, almost two-thirds of businesses were actively examining the potential impact of various Brexit scenarios. Meanwhile, 61% were already preparing for a no-deal.

The mood within the fleet industry shortly after the referendum was fairly mixed: 64% of fleets believed costs would rise as a result, while 36% said costs would not be impacted. At the same time, some industry bodies, such as the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders issued stark warnings, while the Freight Transport Association remained upbeat.

The issue of whether the UK leaving the EU is a challenge or an opportunity is equally divisive. Of the businesses surveyed by the CIB at the beginning of 2018, half had looked into whether Brexit could present new business opportunities, with half of those deciding that it would, and the other half deciding that it would not.

The very definition of divisive then.

With the scheduled withdrawal date 29th March 2019 now only a few weeks away, there is still little clarity around exactly what Brexit will mean for fleet-reliant businesses. So, in times of such uncertainty, is it possible to accurately assess the impact of Brexit on fleets. It’s certainly difficult.

That’s not to say there’s not plenty that fleet-reliant businesses can do to ensure they’re better prepared come what may on March 29th. Uncertainty can be best countered with effective planning and forward thinking and by instilling certainty wherever possible. Here’s three ways fleet businesses can prepare for the uncertainty ahead:

1. Make information easily accessible

Should Brexit result in new processes and additional documentation, it’s important that everyone in your organisation has access to relevant information.

Creating a central portal for your business information such as forms, policies, quotes and invoices is an easy and efficient way to give your teams access to the information they need as soon as they need it.

Handling your job process from quote, to invoice, to job completion etc. in this way also creates a digital paper trail, saving you time and lowering your administrative burden. 

2. Take a proactive approach to maintenance

One of the biggest impacts of Brexit on fleet-reliant businesses is expected to concern maintenance costs. According to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, service and repair bills could increase by up to 10% in the event of no deal.

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Taking a proactive approach to vehicle maintenance could help you to protect against this. Proactive maintenance may increase the lifetime of your vehicles and help you to avoid costly and unexpected repair bills.

One approach is to use a comprehensive fleet tracking solution to set maintenance reminders based on time, engine hours or mileage, to more efficiently carry out routine servicing when needed.

You can also use a fleet tracking system to highlight and coach out behaviours that can contribute to wear and tear on your vehicles, such as idling, harsh acceleration and hard braking. And with engine diagnostic tools, you can even be alerted of diagnostic trouble codes as they occur, catching a minor problem before it becomes a major issue.

3. Reduce unnecessary costs

Perhaps most important in times of economic uncertainty is taking immediate action to control costs, especially any that are potentially unnecessary. A fleet can often be one of the most expensive outlays for a business, so it is crucial that any waste is identified and dealt with.

Unsurprisingly, fuel is often cited as the greatest part of a fleet’s total expenditure, representing approximately 60% of total operating costs, so practices and processes that help to reduce fuel usage can have a huge impact on the bottom line.

We surveyed 200 UK fleet managers in 2018 and nearly a third (29%) told us that the increasing cost of fuel was a daily concern in their business, with 39% telling us they would spend more of their time looking for ways to reduce costs if they could - the highest response of all available choices.

With fuel cost fluctuations uncertain beyond Brexit, it’s vital that business act to limit the risks that rising fuel costs could bring. Unnecessary idling, bad driving habits, poor route planning and out of hours use all increase fuel usage. As a result, monitoring and controlling each of these aspects everyday represents a constant challenge for fleet managers.

With an advanced fleet management solution in place however, all of these unnecessary activities can be monitored, managed and improved through better education, greater visibility and improved efficiency.

The bottom line is to protect the bottom line

While certainty and Brexit remain distant relatives for the time being, business owners can help to mitigate against the potential challenges Brexit presents through considered planning, proactive action and open and honest communication with colleagues and staff.

See how solutions such as Verizon Connect Reveal can help tick off all of these and much more.

Simon Austin

Simon is the Associate Director, International Marketing, EMEA & APAC. With over 20 years marketing experience in the IT software and business analytics industry, Simon believes passionately in the power of data and how it can help business realise their full potential faster.

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