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Why more businesses are choosing to bring fleet managers into Board-level decision making

Thursday, March 31, 2022 - 07:35
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Any fleet-operating organisation knows the value of a good fleet manager. From logistics and cost management to health & safety and employee retention, their responsibilities are as far-reaching as they are business critical.

But now, as companies and public sector organisations face new challenges around new environmental regulations and carbon emission targets, the scope of the role is expanding even further. Businesses are increasingly pulling up a chair at the Board table for their fleet managers, giving them a voice at strategic meetings.

Much of this is down to the important part fleet managers play in helping their business to deliver on its Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) reporting. Category 2 reporting, which includes a business’ operational assets, company cars and cash allowances, is becoming the norm across the UK’s businesses. This means that there’s an increasing amount of pressure being put on businesses to be transparent about their progress. And one of the most efficient ways for them to make significant progress in this area is to electrify their businesses fleet.

Office buildings at nightWe’ve already seen some of the UK’s leading commercial fleets such as Tesco, Royal Mail and BT all commit to fully electrifying their fleet by 2030. The UK government itself has promised to transition its vehicles to electric three years earlier. Over the next few years, we’ll see more and more fleets make similar commitments.

However, the process of electrifying a fleet can be highly complex, particularly for larger fleets, and involves considerable forward-planning and company-wide buy-in. It also requires a deep understanding of a business’ driver profiles and infrastructure setup – insights that can only come from a fleet expert. For this reason, many organisations are choosing to bring their fleet manager into Board-level discussions around category 2 reporting and electrification, to inform strategic decision-making and to avoid any costly mistakes.

This is a wise move. The fleet manager will always be best suited to inform the process of introducing EVs into a business fleet. They have first-hand insight into the make-up of their fleet and the needs of their drivers. As such, they can advise on which vehicles are ready to be switched to EV and those that aren’t. This can help organisations to plot out an EV roadmap which prioritises vehicles based on suitability.

Fleet managers also have oversight of important legislative changes such as the implementation of Clean Air Zones (CAZs), and government incentives such as charge point grants. All of these will inform the decision-making process and determine which areas of the fleet should be prioritised.

Without the involvement of the fleet manager in strategic decision-making, businesses risk setting unrealistic expectations for their electrification process. The fleet manager’s expertise will ensure that the fleet is transitioned at the right pace for the business’s wider needs and goals.

Furthermore, the past few years have taught us how much can change over a short period of time. Organisations need to be agile and ready to scale their fleet up and down based on their shifting needs and objectives. Therefore, any electrification strategy should be forward-looking and accommodate the long-term fleet requirements.

Fleet managers can help the Board to determine what infrastructure will be needed to support their fleet, both now and in the future. This involves taking into consideration any drivers who have access to home chargers, and how many charge points need to be available at depots and workplace carparks. Ultimately, some businesses may even have to relocate in the future to account for charging accessibility – and fleet managers will be able to lead on these decisions with data and expertise.

Looking ahead to the future, the role of the fleet manager will continue to diversify and grow in importance. The new breed of fleet managers will need to wear many hats: mobility manager, regulatory advisor, eco warrior. A critical voice within the organisation, they’ll be seen as the in-house authority on Scope 1 and 2 emissions, empowering both the Board and the workforce with up-to-date information and guidance.


Author: Matthew Walters, Head of Consultancy Services at vehicle leasing experts LeasePlan UK

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