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Smaller fleets seek extra support as market complexity deepens

Small to medium fleets are demanding an ever-broader range of services from leasing companies, Alphabet GB has claimed, as evolving regulations, electric vehicles and supply challenges caused by the global semiconductor shortage pile pressure onto already time-stretched fleet managers.

The company’s consultancy and channels development manager, Caroline Sandall-Mansergh, said fleets have unprecedented uncertainty in 2022, including rising list prices and lead times for new vehicles, inflation and interest rate changes and increased home working, while also working towards electrification and controlling fluctuating operating costs.

Small to medium fleets, which operate a combined 57% of the UK’s business vehicles, commonly have two additional challenges compared with larger corporations. 

A recent Alphabet survey found most (98%) incorporate fleet management into wider human resources, finance or management roles instead of having a dedicated member of staff, leaving limited time to keep track of external pressures on their organisation’s evolving mobility requirements. Half of small to medium fleet managers surveyed reported feeling stressed as a result.

Small fleets also typically lease vehicles through brokers, instead of directly through the funder, which can cause them to miss out on complementary services such as consultant-led reviews of policies and funding methods, and other in-life solutions that control costs, reduce the administrative burden and respond to changing operational needs. 

“2022 brought another year of complexity, change and uncertainty [so] it comes as no surprise that fleet managers are under more pressure than ever before,” Sandall-Mansergh said. “As a result, the time available to keep up to speed with additional external factors may be limited. These are topics fleet managers cannot afford to ignore when it comes to both current and future mobility requirements.”

Alphabet’s direct-to-SME business increased during 2022, with Sandall-Mansergh adding that customers are seeking services that would be familiar to larger corporates – such as consultants’ guidance for incoming regulations, support with integrating electric vehicles and installing charge points, and setting up salary sacrifice schemes and using flexible rental solutions without needing multiple suppliers.

Sandall-Mansergh said: “Without expert support to assist with tracking industry changes and managing the impact on fleets, businesses could struggle to meet sustainability targets, experience increased downtime as a result of not being able to respond to changing requirements or disruption with agility, and risk costs spiralling out of control. 

“This extra workload is particularly daunting for those in charge of small and medium fleets, who are often tasked with fleet responsibilities on top of an already busy primary role.”

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