LESSONS can be learned from Germany as SMEs get their businesses back on the road
Because lockdowns began to ease months before the UK, German SMEs are already dealing with the next economic phase and adapting to the ‘new normal’ UK fleet managers will soon face.
Research by Vimcar, the fleet management software for small and medium-sized companies, revealed that more than half of the SMEs surveyed (55%) have introduced new hygiene regulations for their business fleets, although worryingly two-thirds (65%) of those businesses admitted that their disinfection of vehicles was not being documented.
Of the 18% that were documenting hygiene procedures, most were doing so manually with hand-written lists. These findings suggest that, whilst necessary, extra hygiene regulations will inevitably prove a cost and resource drain on UK SMEs, who are already struggling to get back on their feet.
The latest figures from the Department for Transport reveal that light commercial vehicle traffic in the UK has returned to pre-lockdown levels, Vimcar’s survey of German SMEs provides a useful steer as to what these businesses can expect.
As businesses adjusted to lockdown, it’s not surprising that 59% of SMEs were seeing a decrease in business trips. During lockdown, employees were using pool cars for personal trips, with 35% of German SMEs having seen this.
Despite these challenges and with travel restrictions easing, almost two thirds (60%) are not planning to reduce the size of their fleet, and 15% are actually planning to invest in more vehicles.
Andreas Schneider, founder and Chief Executive of Vimcar said: “As consumers have become more reliant than ever on home deliveries and engineer visits it’s notable that German businesses aren’t planning to reduce their fleet or halt plans to order new vehicles.
“We’d expect to see similar in the UK. As customer satisfaction becomes crucial to how businesses rebuild after lockdown those businesses that are able to manage their vehicles as efficiently and cost-effectively as possible, providing accurate ETAs and ensuring visits are not missed, will be in pole position.”
Vimcar has already equipped over 90,000 vehicles with its SaaS solutions in Germany, Austria and Switzerland. Its solutions are developed specially for the needs of small and medium-sized fleets with up to 200 vehicles, and aim to substantially reduce the amount of time, labour and money needed for SMEs to manage their fleets.
Key functions include real-time vehicle tracking, digital theft protection and geo-fencing. It is plug and play and can be self installed in any vehicle in minutes, without the need for professional installation.
Ronald Clancy, UK managing director of Vimcar said: “SMEs in the UK are currently facing numerous economic and market challenges, which make increasing productivity and optimising costs essential.
“On average we’ve enabled customers to save at least 10% of their fleet management costs, and cut the amount of time they’re spending on this by 25%. By offering UK SMEs a product which is easy to set up and use we can help them to survive the current challenging climate and then, hopefully, thrive.”
One UK business already benefiting from Vimcar Fleet Geo is Doherty Meat, one of Northern Ireland’s leading meat producers. It needs to deliver products quickly to customers several times a week. A high performing fleet is essential to the business, and the ability to track vehicles in real time has proved valuable.
Brian McQuaid, Sales and Marketing Manager, said: “Once, one of our vehicles had a breakdown, I was able to call the mechanic to describe exactly where the broken down vehicle was, saving a lot of time and hassle.
“Now, when a customer calls and asks for a delivery, we are able to give them ETAs.”