Mark Maguire, Northern Ireland Business Development Manager for Europcar Mobility Group looks at the options for businesses who want to keep staff and goods on the road without the restriction of long-term contracts.
With 2019 just a few short weeks away, many business leaders are still in limbo about the latest political impasse and potential impact of us being in or out of Europe. Nowhere is this uncertainty causing more concern than in Northern Ireland.
For many local businesses, the feeling is one of being stuck between a rock and a hard place. How do they keep day to day operations functioning as normal? For those companies needing to keep staff and goods on the road, there is the added frustration of uncertainty over the new WLTP emissions testing on vehicles. So just how much can these concerns affect a business when it comes to deciding on future long term vehicle commitments?
Accessing the latest car isn’t that different from getting hold of a mobile phone these days. People are less likely to buy a car and run it into the ground. Instead, a new wave of consumers and businesses are looking for simple ways to update their vehicle, just as they would their mobile phone. These customers want the latest models and technology without having to wait or commit to lengthy deals. Savvy businesses are quickly moving away from outright ownership.
Long-term rental can deliver real advantages for SMEs and large corporates. We all know that company cars are a key benefit for companies wanting to attract and retain the best talent, but they are also a potentially significant drain on cashflow. Rather than tying up finances in three to four year finance agreements for company cars or vans, long-term rental offers businesses a flexible alternative that also tackles the bottom-line impact of higher Vehicle Excise Duty (VED) charges and increases in Benefit in Kind (BIK) taxes – both of which are expected in early 2019.
Long-term rental also offers SMEs increased flexibility. With little or no upfront costs, generous mileage allowances and flexible length of hire deals, smaller firms can stay in control of their costs when it comes to mileage and tax changes while, at the same time, still having the ability to access new or nearly new vehicles for their staff.
Crucially, long-term rental also ensures that staff are driving well-maintained vehicles, relieving some of the burden of duty of care from the shoulders of fleet managers and business owners.
Having immediate access to the latest makes and models through long-term hire also means that Northern Ireland’s businesses can harness the latest in motoring technology to enhance the efficiency of their fleet without the burden and costs of ownership.
But long-term rental isn’t the only solution SMEs should be considering. Forward-thinking companies should also be challenging convention on mobility as a whole. Is a vehicle driven by one employee always the best solution? If a business considers patterns of behaviour as a whole, they can ensure that the optimal solution is being deployed. Whether its grey fleet, public transport, company provided vehicles, daily rental, car-pooling or taxi usage, there are an increasing range of mobility solutions now available to help businesses operate more efficiently.
Of utmost importance to these businesses should be securing a partner that can deliver all of these options from one platform.
The mantra for SMEs in 2019 has to be ‘flexible, cost-effective and tailored’ arrangements which suit the particular needs of that business when it comes to keeping its staff or goods on the road.