Your roadmap to selecting the best car fleet services provider
For companies contemplating joining the growing trend for car fleet services, finding the right options for their needs is a tricky business.
However, the right relationship with the right corporate car partner could accelerate your business into pole position when it comes to gaining advantage over the competition.
We’ve put together a roadmap to selecting the best car fleet services provider to answer all your most pressing questions.
How do I know if I’m getting a good deal from my car fleet leasing provider?
There is no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to getting the best corporate car leasing deal. You should be wary of any suggestions that force you over budget or that you instinctively know would not be good for you.
On the other hand, the ‘cheapest’ deals may not always be the best deals. Beware of car fleet companies that advertise low prices and skimp on fleet services. There could be constraints or hidden extras that conspire to be costly in the long run.
A fleet services car hire company that understands the individuality of your business can offer tailor-made car leasing solutions.Your prospective leasing company should demonstrate an understanding of your business and that knowledge should be evident in your consultations. A customer service team with a range of knowledge and doesn’t exclude any car brand or model, opens up the playing field in terms of what options are available and ultimately how many deals are available to you.
What car leasing terms should I sign up for?
Ultimately, what any car leasing company is most concerned with will be your car’s residual value - that is, how much it can be sold for on the market after your contract is up. Things that affect the residual value include miles on the clock, wear and tear, and service history. If your leasing company is guaranteed a good residual value based on an agreement that you’ll only drive the car for 12,000 miles per annum for instance, there is scope to negotiate low monthly repayments.
However, if you know that your sales reps will be regularly driving 15,000 miles per annum, this is where you could get stung. Any additional miles are subject to a charge and tax on those amounts. So while your monthly payments could be low, your allocated miles are probably low too. It’s important to know the driving habits of the staff using your cars before coming to an agreement with your business fleet management company. Importantly, terms of the agreement often can’t be renegotiated once the contract is signed.
Does your potential vendor have access to the right calibre of vehicle for your company’s purposes?
Your car leasing company’s customer services representative should be able to discuss all aspects of choosing the right vehicle for your business. For example, if you need to lease vans to tow heavy machinery or transport tools and equipment, tow capacity and gross vehicle weight will be important factors in choosing a lease van. For corporate executives, value-added extras, choices of upholstery (and other special features make the perk of having a work car all the more attractive) could be a deciding factor in which leasing company to choose.
From corporate cars for sales teams, to business-critical vans, it’s crucial that employees have access to an efficient car fleet that allows them to meet operational objectives and demands. The right calibre of vehicle sets the tone of any business, and leasing management services that offer unbiased assistance to business owners means that flexibility and choice is prioritised.
What other expenses should I account for above and beyond the monthly lease payment?
Maintenance and accompanying service history is covered by the leasing company, but due to the wide range of variables among drivers (age, location, experience etc.) insurance isn’t covered. However, your leasing company might be able to recommend an insurance group that they work with that could offer competitive rates.
Road tax and other tax breaks apply depending on what type of vehicle your choose. Hybrids and electric cars are currently popular choices for corporate fleets since they are low or no emissions, and therefore no road tax is payable. In fact, we discussed the pros and cons of using a green fleet for business in our last blog!
What are my rights in regards to vehicle servicing and maintenance? What consultancy and administrative assistance does the vendor offer for the duration of the contract?
Fleet management services that are hands-on in order to get businesses signed up, but then offer minimal assistance during the contractual period are to be avoided. Instead, choose a vendor who takes responsibility for vehicle and driver-related tasks for the full duration of any lease contract signed.
A hands-on car leasing management company should therefore offer to do the work on some, if not all, of these tasks: insurance management, tax and fee management, damage and return management, fleet consulting, maintenance and wear issues, fuel card (for example, in an Irish context, the DCI card) management, driver license management, procurement and logistics, tyre management, online solutions and fine management.
One of the most important aspects of a car fleet leasing contract is vehicle servicing and maintenance entitlements. For drivers out on the roads, clocking hundreds of miles a day, the risk of car damage is high. Tyre changes, scratches and dents and brake fuel leaks are just some of the more common problems that vehicles accrue over monthly use. Regular servicing is therefore an essential part of car leasing.
Another important question to consider is the proximity of garages that are eligible to work on a vehicle, should the drive require assistance. If a car breaks down in Athlone and the nearest service garage is back in Dublin, how will the driver get his car or van back to the city? Therefore, choosing a vendor that offers a dense network of eligible garages across Ireland is hugely important.
Getting out on the road, to sell or deliver, is the backbone of many Irish businesses. Choosing a car leasing vendor offers practical and reliable solutions should problems arise is the difference between keeping the wheels of industry going or grinding to a standstill. Indeed, the provision of a hired car or replacement vehicle is of paramount importance should the leased vehicle be out of action for days or weeks. Vendors that offer this option rate highly for any business owner considering fleet leasing.
Why is consideration of the returns process important?
Choosing a car fleet service that offers a fair and transparent return process is important. You have to understand your leasing company’s definition of wear and tear before you turn the key in the ignition. The buy-and-own mentality has an advantage over car leasing in this regard - what someone might class as wear and tear someone else could be characterised as careless and preventable damage.
Again, strong customer service and consultancy relationships will aid this process.
A vendor with a neutral return assessor could be an advantage since neutral assessors might quantify daily use in a fair and consistent way. Some car leasing vendors are now offering a service whereby vehicle damage is identified throughout the duration of a contract, meaning that business owners are always aware of any additional costs that may occur throughout their ownership period. Both these safeguards ensure that there will be no exorbitant and unexpected fees to pay at the end of a leasing contract.