Fleets veering back to open choice policies, according to new GE Capital data
According to the latest Company Car Trends Survey from GE Capital Fleet Services there has been a big increase in the proportion of companies offering drivers full choice of manufacturers (29% higher vs Q1) as well as a rise in the proportion of fleet managers seeing company cars as a recruitment and retention tool (27% higher than Q1) as UK businesses once again start to put drivers at the heart of their company car policies.
The report also shows that the flexibility over choosing a company car has dramatically improved for drivers since the start of this year; 40% of fleet managers now give their drivers the freedom of choosing any manufacturer for their preferred company car, compared to under a third (31%) in the first quarter of 2010. This is particularly high given that the vast majority of fleets in the corporate sector typically have some restrictions in place on their employees’ choices of fleet.
In addition, nearly half of all managers (42%) recognised that using company cars as a key recruitment and retention tool was an important factor. This is a significant rise from the previous quarter when just one in three managers (33%) deemed the issue to be of significance, and suggests that companies are re-prioritising the well-being of their drivers and the benefits that they receive from work. The cost of running a fleet however still remains the most fundamental issue for fleet managers, with over four in five (82%) citing costs as a key consideration in running their business.
Gary Killeen, UK commercial leader for GE Capital, Fleet Services, said: 'Fleet managers are increasingly considering the views of their drivers and giving them more flexibility over the choice of their company car. This is a positive move as it is important that company car driver opinion is not put to one side even as companies seek to refocus their long-term business goals. What is most important is a healthy balance between factors such as keeping costs under control and maintaining driver satisfaction, and offering drivers a wide range of cars is not particularly effective from a cost angle.
“While it is vital to recognise that the company car is a useful tool in attracting and retaining staff, the cost savings of restricted policies need not be given up. Properly constructed policies that take into account different driver requirements across two or three manufacturers can still deliver a very attractive employee benefit.'
Furthermore, when fleet managers are deciding who is eligible for a company vehicle, the position of an employee is creeping up the agenda. Nearly three in five managers (59%) view employee status as part of the basis for this decision, a 3% rise from three months ago (56%). Also, when choosing their leasing provider, one in six (17%) fleet managers now consider driver satisfaction with the brand, a significant rise from the one in ten (11%) at the beginning of the year.
Gary Killeen continued: 'The company car should not be seen as merely a component in getting a job done, even in times when economic conditions are tougher. It will be interesting to see if the trend towards companies again recognising the real importance of employee benefits continues, and when they will therefore make employee recruitment and retention a true focus once more.'