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NEW skills learnt since the start of the pandemic mean that fleets are very much ready for the latest lockdown, according to the Association of Fleet Professionals (AFP).

Chair Paul Hollick explained that while there was widespread fatigue surrounding the current situation, industry professionals now knew exactly how to handle its demands.

He said: “Fleet managers are now experienced in this area and almost have a ‘lockdown mode’ into which they shift, where they move to meet a different set of priorities and needs from when looser restrictions are in place.

“The situation is completely different from last Spring, when we were faced with a long list of unknowns and had to improvise our way through an unprecented situation. This week, we once again are finding ourselves in an emergency but it’s now a familiar one, and fleets know what needs to be done.

“The most important management responsibilities, of course, fall on fleets involved with the running of essential services such as the NHS and, this time around, some are involved in the distribution of the mass vaccination programme, which is obviously crucial to the UK’s future recovery.

“However, everyone from online shopping delivery fleets to those who provide meals on wheels will also be gearing up for increased demand during the next few weeks. This is now something with which fleet managers are now familiar and they will be following well-established courses of action.”

Hollick said that there were other, more mundane but still important tasks that fleet managers would be carrying out this week.

“They’ll be looking at, for example, the ongoing effects of laying up company cars for a further period, with implications for everything from maintenance and safety to taxation and vehicle storage. This area has almost become a fleet management specialism in itself.

“Of course, these are skills that everyone wished that they wouldn’t have to use again but the fact is that this is an aspect of our profession that has become well-established in a short period of time and serves an essential purposes for businesses.”

He added that the seven week lockdown could also create some space for businesses running cars and vans to take a wider look at their future vehicle and transport needs.

“We’d very much encourage fleet professionals to make positive use of this time, which is something that many have done during the previous lockdowns. It would be useful for them to consider issues such as the future shape of their fleet or the fact that, if the vaccination programme is effective quickly, we could be looking at a fairly rapid remobilisation of relatively normal operations.

“Also, we’d urge them to take a perhaps use this time to increase their skills. We saw an uptick in demand for the AFP’s training courses during the previous two lockdowns, and new proficiencies will undoubtedly help fleet managers to prepare for the new normal, whatever that eventually looks like.”

The AFP was formed in March, 2021, from the merging of the Association of Car Fleet Operators (ACFO) and the Institute of Car Fleet Management (ICFM).

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