Whether you’re running two vehicles, twenty or two hundred, managing a charity fleet is a tough ask. There are so many moving parts to keep track of. People and performance, matters of safety, plus all of the cost control, security, certification and maintenance you need to consider. Keeping your workhorses out on the road day in and day out can be enough to test the skills and patience of even the most experienced professional.
And there are seven challenges that will test you in the coming year. Challenges that, with a little planning and preparation, you’ll be able to handle with the minimum of fuss to stay one step ahead.
1. Fuel costs
You don’t need us to tell you how volatile and ultimately expensive fuel costs have become. Even when it’s relatively cheap, fuel will take up a significant part of your expenses.
It might sound obvious, but keep a close eye on forecourt prices and refuel at supermarkets where prices tend to be lower. Avoid refuelling at motorway service stations.
Maybe it’s time to start using fuel cards. But do your research first. You need to be absolutely positive that you have access to relevant fuel stations and your drivers aren’t forced to go out of their way to refuel – detours that could easily wipe out any savings.
Check if the fuel card provider has an app that makes it easy to find nearby garages and how ‘intelligent’ the service is. Can you automatically integrate purchases with your accounts and see who’s bought what, and where? Can you set payment limits, spot suspect purchases, instantly cancel cards if necessary and generally keep a close and cost-effective eye on your fuel spend?
While you have little-to-no control over the actual cost of fuel, you do at least have some control over how much of it you use. And it’s here where you can make some serious savings, especially when it comes to driver performance – with telematics.
GPS tracking and telematics software gives you a detailed real-time understanding of how well (or not) your drivers are performing. Connected technology makes it quick and easy to identify inefficient driving – the idling, over-revving, overloading, sudden braking and speeding – that’s costing you money.
And the quicker you spot efficiency issues, the quicker you can go about putting the driver training in place to resolve them.
As well as being fuel efficient, smart driving is also safe driving. And the better people drive, the less time they and their vehicles will spend (expensively) off the road as a result of shunts, scrapes and other accidents.
3. Repair and maintenance turnaround
Talking of vehicles spending time off the road. You may have noticed that it’s taking much longer (and costing much more) to get your vehicles back up and running.
For one there’s a post-Covid labour shortage, with thousands of skilled and experienced mechanics having chosen to leave the industry. Add to that a lack of spare parts caused by supply chain issues, plus inflation, plus ‘old’ ways of working, especially when it comes to spares and we’re looking at a perfect repair and maintenance storm.
But you can speed things up:
- Avoid any unnecessary wear, tear and damage by making sure your vehicles are always maintained properly. In other words, automatically schedule your maintenance.
- Encourage a strong and solid relationship with your go-to garage – be nice, pay them promptly, and offer as much notice and flexibility on scheduled maintenance as possible.
- A careful look at who you use to insure you and how flexible and adaptable they are when it comes to things like ‘green parts’. Safe, usable parts stripped from write-offs and discarded vehicles, ‘green parts’ offer a fast and low-cost way to get back on the road.
- And of course, train your drivers to be better drivers!
4. Clean air zones (CAZ)
Are you in the process of electrifying your fleet (though that in itself presents challenges, what with supply chain delays and waiting lists)?
Of course you are.
As if the ban on new petrol and diesel vehicles from 2030 wasn’t incentive enough, the introduction of Clean Air Zones has really intensified the focus on transitioning to greener fleets.
With an estimated 40,000 premature deaths every year in the UK linked to poor air quality, it’s only natural that many councils and local authorities are strongly encouraging the transition.
Take Bristol as an example of skyrocketing CAZ costs. It costs £9 per day for private cars, taxis and light vehicles to enter the Bristol clear air zone. And if you’re driving a heavier vehicle, coach or bus, then you can expect to pay as much as £100 per day.
“We might not be able to go into town as often, we use the van once a week to transport our items for outreach but we also do give people lifts.
“We help people with moving furniture collecting donations, so if each time we are going into town, if we’re going to be charged the 9 pounds that is going to add up throughout the month.” Hayley Jennings, the founder of the charity Helping Homeless Believe told ITV.
The solution? Transition to a greener fleet.
Which has its own challenges…
5. Specialist EV mechanics
As tough as times are for traditional repair shops when it comes to skills shortages, they’re super tough when it comes to the shortage of EV technicians. The Institute of Motor Industry (IMI) predicts that by 2030, there could be a shortfall of 35,000 EV technicians.
Looking on the bright side, with fewer parts to fail, EVs are up to 50% cheaper to maintain than petrol and diesel vehicles according to Consumer Reports Analysis. Which has got to be good news as prices rise everywhere else.
6. Lack of EV infrastructure
The lack of charging stations has been a concern for anyone looking to electrify their fleet. With drivers often unable to recharge at home (or unwilling given rising domestic energy costs), charities and fleet managers have been waiting for the rollout of sufficient reliable, accessible charging stations to make running an electric fleet properly viable.
Things are picking up. For example, the government’s £20 million charge point initiative through the On-Street Residential Chargepoint Scheme (ORCS) aims to improve access to chargepoints as part of their £500 million commitment for EV charging infrastructure. By 2023, they aim to have at least 6 high-powered, open access chargepoints at motorway service areas in England. These are able to charge up to 3 times faster than most of the chargepoints currently in place, and can provide a typical electric vehicle with around 120-145 miles of range in just 15 minutes.
7. Data overload
We’re all drowning in data, in all its forms. From advice on CAZ, to advice of which brand of electric vehicle to buy, and best training providers, to the day-to-day data generated by your telematics and GPS.
But making the right decisions based on that data isn’t always easy. It depends on your circumstances, your experience, and the type of fleet you run. The best way to make sense of all that data?
Stick to your lane. If you run a refrigerated fleet that delivers fresh flowers across Europe, then take guidance from a partner with clients running refrigerated fleets that deliver fresh flowers across Europe.
If you run a charity fleet then odds on you’re best off getting your advice from a company expert in supporting other charity fleets.
Call it experience, call it pattern matching, call it years in the charity industry helping people like you collect their data, read it, understand it and know how best to use it.
Whatever you call it, if you’re unsure about anything fleet-wise, then contact us and arrange a callback.
From the transition to electric, driver training, fuel efficiency, CAZs and telematics, just drop us a line and we’ll give you all the information you need.
Tips, tricks and how-to guides
We want to help you. We have the technology you need for your charity to excel as well as specialist knowledge in this sector. We use this knowledge to make accurate decisions everyday but also to provide you with free impartial advice, tips & tricks and how-to guides.