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Interview: Synergy Car Leasing’s Paul Parkinson on navigating Covid-19

CEO & founder of Synergy Car Leasing, Paul Parkinson, discusses the current Covid-19 situation and the easing of restrictions, from the perspective of SMEs managing their fleets.

Paul Parkinson and Synergy’s team

How are you helping your fleet leasing customers during Covid-19?

Synergy specialises in providing fleet management to small and medium-sized organisations in many different sectors across the UK. The challenge for many of our clients is that they don’t always have the resource of a fleet manager, so managing the business’ fleet often falls to a senior member of the team as an add-on to their main duties, such as Finance or HR for example; so at this time we see communication via all channels as key for supporting and helping our clients through the current situation.

Providing proactive updates and information via our dedicated client services and account management teams, enables our customers to concentrate on their business priorities during these challenging times. Specific areas of support include informal and formal extension advice, renewal administration, supporting requests for payment holidays and the supply of short-term vehicles where required.

Flexible and convenient working hours means our team are available from 8am to 8pm Monday to Friday, and 10am to 8pm Saturday and Sunday. Often it’s a case of being on-hand and able to respond with the latest developments as all our businesses work to return to the new normal. There have been challenges and frustrations around the collection of end-of-contract vehicles and the delivery of new vehicles on order, ready to go, with a limited supply chain prioritising key workers.

We are now seeing, at all points in the supply chain, capacity returning with customers looking forward to taking delivery of their new vehicles, and collections being booked safely and in line with social distancing requirements.

How has Synergy Car Leasing adapted to the current situation?

Our experienced team are working securely and remotely across all departments. The early days in late March were difficult operationally, but in eight weeks it’s amazing as to what we can used to and how we can adapt with modern technology including IP hosted telephony, cloud-based work flow system, laptops and the new buzz words in face-to-face communication and meeting management: Microsoft Teams and Zoom.

Do you think there will be a lasting change to working practices post-Covid-19?

We’ve learnt a lot about ourselves and our business. Mindful of our employees’ wellbeing, we have seen some people rise to the challenge and thrive in this all-new way of working, delivering improved performance and results; and other members of our team with situational challenges and a different make-up find it difficult, frustrating and uncomfortable. We’ve responded quickly to ensure the right people are working and the right people are protected by the furlough job retention scheme.

On the other side, we now have an open mind to our office-based operations, home and remote working which will enable us to manage the transitional phase back to normal and maintain social distancing.

What are your predictions for SMEs managing fleets as we begin recovery and restrictions are lifted?

Our industry thrives on volume. The businesses that adapt quickly to processing and managing volume safely, quality processes around vehicle movements to ensure clean and contactless delivery. We can potentially see a spike in orders as businesses encourage employees not to use public transport and we expect a disproportionate amount of these vehicles to be electric or hybrid to capitalise on the low benefit-in-kind tax liability.

While our sector has had a rough ride, like many others, our industry is resilient and determined. We expect to see a strong recovery with improvements in customer experience both in terms of service delivery and acquisition journey. We look forward to playing our part in our helping our clients, and their businesses, get back on track as quickly as possible.

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