Leaseplan may have won the inaugural leasing company of the year award last year, having pioneered a service targeted specifically at LCVs through bestowing upon vans the attention to detail more commonly associated with heavy trucks in terms of fleet management and best practice, but it is not about to sit back and admire its achievements.

The company continues to move forward and in the past year has instigated a raft of initiatives to make life easier for LCV operators.

In the first quarter of this year it completed a rigorous audit to become the first leasing provider to receive FORS vehicle hire company accreditation. This endorsement proves Leaseplan has the right compliance, safety, efficiency, environmental and security policies and procedures in place to supply vehicles that are maintained and managed in accordance with the latest FORS Standard.

Paul Wilkes, business service manager at FORS, says of the arrangement: “It is important for us to be able to recognise where suppliers are meeting the same standards and best practice as FORS operators’ own fleets.”

Leaseplan has also enhanced its My Vehicle Check app this year, having originally trialled it two years ago. Leaseplan describes the app as fully auditable and tamper-proof. The FORS and FTA Van Excellence scheme-compliant app replicates the HGV daily inspection process by enabling drivers to upload DVSA-recommended walk-around inspection checks, with photos included, via a smartphone or tablet. In the process it gives fleet managers a clearer view of LCV off-road time.

Improvements have also been made to Uptime Live, Leaseplan’s VOR (vehicle-off-road) management tool. The firm has incorporated defect reporting through the integration of My Vehicle App into the tool to deliver defect records directly to the customers’ Uptime Live portals. Included is analysis of five key segments: mechanical, lights/glass, internal, tyres and damage. Also new is Problem Vehicle reporting, which allows operators to identify LCVs that have been subject to multiple faults over a short period of time.

Metworks, the in-house repair and maintenance arm of affordable housing association Metropolitan Thames Valley, is one customer to have benefited from Uptime. Metworks is reliant on its 151-strong fleet of ageing LCVs, which is predominantly made up of conversions, some with tail-lifts.

It called on Leaseplan to cut VOR time for service, maintenance and repair (SMR), reduce rental spend, and reduce administration to free up time for better deployment of fleet resource. Leaseplan’s response included: undertaking a full maintenance audit of Metworks’ LCVs; identifying problem areas and highlighting best practice; introducing a live telematics link into Uptime Live; and adding a list of Metworks’ LCVs into its portal, giving access to Metwork’s planning team members to enable them to book servicing six weeks in advance – providing a record of defects to Metworks’ transport manager, including images and trend analysis and increasing the use of mobile servicing to save time.

As a result, average VOR was slashed from 6.39 to 3.25 days, vehicle utilisation improved dramatically, helping to cut rental spend from £11,000 to £4,000 a month, and the transport manager’s time spent on administrative tasks was reduced by an hour a day.

Leaseplan has also this year introduced a ‘try before you buy’ scheme that gives fleets the chance to trial electric vans without obligation for up to three months to see whether they are suitable for their requirements. The deal comes with the offer to refund the difference between the ‘try before you buy’ rental cost and the less expensive lease rate if the operator chooses to take one or more electric vans within six months.

Highly Commended: Free2Move Lease

Free2Move Lease is a connected, full-service-business leasing company that was established in January 2017 as the PSA Group’s mobility services provider.

It offers a range of innovative services, designed to enable fleets to focus on core business, and provides the framework for streamlined and effective fleet management.

LCV operations are highly specialised and Free2Move Lease understands LCV fleets have different requirements from car fleets. Through the extensive Peugeot, Citroen and Vauxhall dealer networks, Free2Move Lease offers servicing facilities for LCVs to suit fleet needs.

The Peugeot and Citroen Business Centre networks include workshops for all vans, vehicle body repairs, and a customer collection and delivery service for repairs and maintenance. Late opening is available, where required.

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