Fleets ‘very much ready’ for latest lockdown, says Association of Fleet Professionals
Lessons learned since the start of the pandemic means that fleets are very much ready for the latest lockdown, says the Association of Fleet Operators (AFP).
Chair Paul Hollick said that although that there was widespread fatigue surrounding the current situation, industry professionals now knew exactly how to handle its demands – and may also be able to use the seven-week lockdown to take a wider look at their future vehicle and transport needs.
He reported: “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 unprecedented 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.”
Hollick added that while the most important management responsibilities understandably fall on fleets involved with the running of essential services such as the NHS – and some are now involved in the distribution of the mass vaccination programme – 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 added that there were other, more mundane but still important tasks that fleet managers would be carrying out this week, such as 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,” he stated.
And he said 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 – something the association has been encouraging since it was first founded in March 2020, just prior to the first lockdown, as a result of the merger of ACFO and the ICFM.
“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.”