SME Managers Struggle To Look After Vehicles

New RAC Study Shows SME Managers Often Struggle To Look After Vehicles Due To Other Commitments


Fergal Dowling, Partner | +44 (0)121 214 5476

A new study from the RAC has found that SME managers often struggle to look after their fleet because of other commitments.

Some 23 per cent of those surveyed that are in charge of up to 50 vehicles at a time admit they find it hard to cope with maintenance issues because of other roles they hold at their company.

But despite this, only two per cent of the fleet engineers surveyed stated that taking care of vehicles is their only role, with the other 98 per cent in control of multiple aspects of their company's logistics.

Further to this, 77 per cent of managers said their employees often fail to keep track of their operations effectively, making auditing and record-keeping difficult.

In particular, 33 per cent do not properly deal with their fuel expenses, while 22 per cent do not track their vehicle usage and 28 per cent find it hard to organise insurance.

But it isn't just employees that struggle, as 84 per cent of managers stated they find it difficult to keep their fleet under control, with 22 per cent citing legal requirements - including MOTs and tax - as particularly problematic areas.

RAC business services director David Aldridge, who was speaking to promote a new SME vehicle management product, said: "Our survey shows that fleet buying and day-to-day tasks form just one of many responsibilities this person may look after in an SME.

"Often, the whole life costs of moving staff around in either company vehicles or grey fleet are difficult to manage with no real tools in the market to facilitate and control this."

These views were echoed by Justin Whitson, chief executive of FleetOnDemand, who touted the benefits of the RAC's new product.

SMEs regularly cite compliance as one of the most difficult areas they face when expanding, as larger vehicle fleets and employee numbers must also be matched with a more robust legal framework.

But despite this, many SME managers fail to properly invest in insurance and maintenance for their fleet - leading to legal risks.

Expert Opinion
A study of this nature highlights the difficulties that smaller businesses can face in terms of handling day-to-day issues, with this research specifically looking at transport management issues. While they may not have resources of larger organisations, it is simple truth that SMEs like any business have a duty to ensure all aspects of their operations meet the relevant regulatory requirements.

"On this specific issue, that includes up-to-date insurance, maintenance of vehicles and proper oversight of transport activity. As with any area, a failure to keep on top of such issues can lead to problems further down the line, particularly if something goes wrong and such information is required.

"It is vital small businesses completely understand all aspects of compliance and any organisations with concerns on such matters should seek legal advice to ensure they are meeting all of their responsibilities."
Fergal Dowling, Partner