Allstar Insights: Business As Unusual Part 1
How are businesses with leased and rental vehicles managing during the lockdown?
Toby Poston, BVRLA Director of Corporate Affairs, looks at issues the fleet sector is facing.
In the first of two videos, he looks at how vehicle delivery and collection logistics are being organised to ensure safe handover, as well as funding and support for companies who might be struggling to pay for cars and vans. Also he talks about how to work with suppliers to help your business run smoothly and effectively during the crisis, and as lockdown begins to unwind, what plans the Government has for the automotive sector.
What are the main challenges for leasing and rental companies?
The rental sector has been hit by a drop off in leisure bookings, but they are fulfilling a lot of corporate bookings, particularly helping out some of the organisations playing an essential role and in key supply chain areas. There’s been a big surge in demand for refrigerated vans, vans for home deliveries and for NHS supply chains.
So it’s about how they operate in an environment where business is down, but also having to service some really key essential sectors.
On the leasing side, there’s again been a drop-off in activity for obvious reasons, and the main challenge is one of logistics: there are lots of vehicles that are stuck at dealerships, that haven’t been delivered, or are with customers and haven’t been collected.
Again, for them, it will be about how they start getting back to business and get movement in those supply chains.
How are firms adapting to help customers?
All our discussions are about how there is a return to ‘business as unusual’, so there’s a lot of effort looking at how they can develop business processes, and embrace concerns around social distancing and staff safety.
Industry standards are vital. It’s a very fast-moving period of change, and there needs to be authentic authoritative guidance. The automotive sector is a very wide-ranging one, and you have a lot of trade bodies, from SMMT, NFDA to NAMA and BVRLA, so the more we can work together with a set of co-ordinated guidance, it’s going to give people confidence that they doing the right thing.
What advice do you have about vehicle logistics?
The key thing is vehicle movements are allowed. The Government is clear that it wants all supply chains, not just essential services, to carry on as much as possible and that includes collecting and delivering vehicles.
If a business is struggling to make payments, what should it do?
Any business that is having trouble making payments should go and speak to their leasing company and try and come to a resolution that is appropriate for them. There is a lot of talk of three-month payment holidays, but that is not always the best bet, so always speak to the leasing company and discuss your situation.
What issues are you discussing with Government?
There are a number of strands we are talking about. One the one hand is liquidity in the market - so at a time when you are needing to provide customers with more forbearance support, it’s really essential that that flow of funding the Government is trying to put into the market - that £350 billion the Chancellor has been talking about - really filters down via the banks to the whole motor finance sector.
The other one is around the whole return-to-work piece. We’re working with colleagues in the automotive sector and at Government level about co-ordinating some sort of return to working in the coronavirus environment strategy. That’s about providing real high-level guidance that can be adapted to individual business situations. That’s going to be a really complicated, delicate piece of work.
Finally, is about some sort of stimulus. We know from the last financial crisis in 2008-9 that the Government will be really keen to get the automotive sector back up and running at full steam quickly, and they are likely to try and do something linked to the decarbonisation agenda.