Every company's vehicle fleet is different and a good fleet policy should reflect that. Fleet policy templates will get you so far but don't feel tied to them. Embrace your business' individuality and make the most of the opportunity to instill your company values. Just keep these 10 car fleet policy best practices in mind.
Company Car Policy Best Practices for Fleet Managers
- It is best practice to check driving licences at least annually against the DVLA database so make your drivers aware of their obligations in your company car policy.
- A company car policy is the place to define eligibility. Who can partake in your company car scheme? Is there a lower age limit? Does their driving licence have to be clean i.e. no points. Also think about if spouses/children are allowed to drive company cars and what documentation you'd want to see to support that.
- Once you've defined "who", outline how and when employees can order a company car. For example, are there different guidelines/processes for new vs existing company car scheme drivers? Outline the ordering process in detail including authorisations and any reallocation rules. In the same vein, think about post-ordering approvals, for example if alterations to the car are needed how should these be requested.
- Carefully consider your stance on emissions and fuel. You can reduce tax and fuel costs by setting CO2 emission limits and promoting zero-emission alternatives like video/audio conferencing. (Remember hybrid and diesel engine vehicles generally offer lower fuel consumption than their petrol cousins and therefore have substantial fuel cost advantages.) If you allow driver's to choose their own company car vehicles you can take this concept further and set strict rules regarding vehicle specification so that they are fit for purpose. For example, no second-hand vehicles, no soft-tops, satellite navigation is compulsory etc.
- Mileages are a car policy hot potato with many topics. If you use mileage-based fuel reimbursement or fuel cards, outline the process. To stop unnecessary journeys and curb excess spending, companies often set strict fleet vehicle mileage limits per day or per annum and any additional mileage could be granted on a pre-approval process. In parallel, it's worth considering your mileage rates: if they are too high they can encourage/incentivise excessive employee driving.
- If your company cars are not under a fully maintained leasing contract, maintenance standards should be outlined in your policy and supported with fair wear and tear guidelines. Whether you have a leased or owned fleet, it's best practice to make regular tyre checks compulsory. (There'll be more on tyre checks in Part 3 of this Fleet Policy Blog Series so follow us on LinkedIn to be sure you don't miss it.)
- Always include a section on vehicle insurance: explain what drivers should do in the case of an accident and what their responsibilities are. (Windscreen damage repair/replacement is a common point of fleet confusion so it's smart to include a note on that process too.)
- Company car usage needs to be defined clearly. Some clauses will be legal-related like driving abroad and how to obtain a leasing travel pack; some purely a business-preference like no smoking or valeting once a month. Phones usage clauses are common: it is illegal to drive when using a hand-held phone in the UK but some employers choose to go further and say that hands-free calls are also prohibited as they can still distract the driver from the road. If you have site vehicles as well as company cars, outline their specific usage dos and don'ts too.
- Any change of circumstances like driver address, health or driving licence endorsements/points could affect company car operations so make drivers aware of their responsibilities and how, if they don't notify you of changes, they may be personally liable. Regarding endorsements, it's also worth giving a contact for parking and fines processing and explain who is liable to pay.
- To wrap things up with a bow, it's best practice to state that failure to follow the company car policy can result in disciplinary action.
Part 3 of this fleet policy blog series looks at how to implement fleet policy changes.
What about Grey Fleet Policy?
Don't forget about your grey fleet when you're writing your fleet policy. Grey fleet cars can easily slip through the net and be unreliable, badly maintained, gas-guzzling runners. They are also something of a legal firecracker. If your employees use private vehicles for business journeys it's good practice to set some grey fleet guidelines for their usage.
Q: Are grey fleet journeys essential to your business?
If the answer is no, question if grey fleet cars should be used at all.
Instead you could hire short-term cars for ad hoc meetings or get yourself a pool vehicle with a reliable service history, full MOT and a decent set of tyres.
Not only would this eliminate the risks associated with grey fleet management but it could work out far cheaper as employees would be more likely to use a hire/pool car only when a face-to-face meeting is truly essential.
If the answer is yes, your business does indeed rely on personal vehicles, you should look to control their usage and their condition.
A grey fleet policy will share many elements with a company car fleet policy. Things like regular driving licence checks, phone usage rules and promoting zero-emission alternatives work for every vehicle but there a few poignant additions to consider: read on for some of the best tips on how to write an effective grey fleet vehicle policy...
Top 5 Grey Fleet Policy Writing tips
There are no hard and fast rules on grey fleet legals so it's best to err on the side of caution and do regular document checks on grey fleet drivers and their vehicles, just as you would for your owned/leased company car fleet.
In terms of writing grey fleet specific policy wording and rolling it out, keep these 5 tips to hand and you'll be on the right track:
- Obtain a proof of MOT annually and check the service history. Use your policy to make drivers aware that both will be requested and keep on record.
- All grey fleet vehicle's must be road legal so state this in your policy. Don't forget to mention that this includes tyre tread depth.
- Most grey fleets reimburse fuel using Approved Mileage Allowance Payments (AMAP). If you do, outline your procedure in your fleet policy. AMAP rates take into account vehicle purchase and running costs like fuel, maintenance, insurance and depreciation. If you are paying a monthly allowance or annual lump sum to opt-out drivers, you should consider reducing their pence per mile reimbursement to below AMAP rates. (AMAP for 2015-16 is 45p per mile for the first 10,000 business miles and 25p per mile for every mile thereafter.)
- We love vintage motors and kit cars but are they appropriate for business journeys? If your employees opt to drive their own car rather than take public transport, your fleet policy is the apt place to set some vehicle type rules to make sure all vehicles are fit for purpose and road legal. Likewise, an employee arriving to a client meeting in a rusty Mini Metro isn't doing your brand any favours so consider setting a vehicle age limit - even if it is a generous one.
- Lastly, it's not good practice to have employees sign a policy then never mention it again; support and instill your policy with a mixture of written declarations and reminders. It's for everyone's benefit that it is upheld after all.
Make it real
Complete your fleet policy research with the final installment of our fleet policy blog series, Part 3: how to implement car fleet policy changes.