New style rental services offer perks for SMEs

Sam Sterry, SME Sales Director for Europcar Mobility Group UK, highlights the benefits of business rental to help SMEs manage their fleets effectively.

SMEs often struggle to access the benefits big businesses take for granted – across all sorts of services, including the area of employee mobility. On top of that, the uncertain business landscape means SMEs in Northern Ireland are more mindful of their budget pressures than ever before. For example, the idea of signing up to onerous leasing agreements with little flexibility is the last thing any smaller firm wants to do.

However, businesses need to keep moving – and that means cars and vans, alongside other forms of mobility such as public transport, are crucial. Recent research commissioned by Europcar Mobility Group UK found that 22% of respondents need transport for up to half (26-50%) of their workforce, with a quarter of firms relying on transport for 10-25% of their business operations.

This highlights the importance of mobility for a range of businesses and the significance of looking at the best, and most cost effective mobility solutions for the future.

When it comes to providing company vehicles, nearly half (49%) said they provide employees with a company car or van. Over half (54%) of businesses with 26-50 employees provide a company car or van to keep their workforce moving, rising to 71% for the largest companies, with over 500 employees. However, nearly a third also expect their employees to use their own vehicles for business travel and over a quarter (28%) of smaller firms – with 10-25 employees – rely on grey fleet vehicles.

It is vital for SMEs to look at reducing grey fleet usage – not just because of the safety and reliability issues, but also because of the often ‘stealth’ costs that grey fleet can bring. Indeed, the recently commissioned Europcar Mobility Group UK research also identified that less than half (45%) monitor fuel expenses for employee travel, while nearly a third (32%) rely on driver self-reporting – a much less accurate way of monitoring travel. Yet without accurate insight into driver miles – and the costs associated with them – firms could be spending much needed funds unnecessarily.

A key challenge for small businesses is finding a way to access competitively priced services without having to sign up to long-term contracts or agreements. However, the supply chain is slowly recognising the importance of offering greater flexibility.Agood example of this is Europcar’s Business Rental Service, which is all about reducing the formality of becoming a business customer whilst still making access to the benefits easier.

The approach is very straightforward. By registering staff members in advance, firms can ensure their business travellers can book and drive away with the minimum of delay. As well as improving the efficiency and convenience of business trips, employers also gain the peace of mind of knowing staff are in safe, well-maintained vehicles.

With finances under pressure, SMEs need to ensure they are accessing the mobility solutions that are fit for purpose – and fit for their pocket.  And accessing rental solutions that are tailored to the volume of rentals needed means firms only pay for the vehicles required.  Plus, with the new wave of flexible options, they should get access to other benefits too such as online booking, express check-out and even keyless entry to vehicles.

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