CommercialFleet

Fleets Informed

Fleets Informed

Q&A from Enterprise Flex-E-Rent

Rental has the flexibility that companies need

Whether it's responding to seasonal demand or providing specialist conversions and equipment.. rental can supply the answers

1. How does flexible rental differ from short-term hire?

Flexible rental generally refers to vehicles that have been acquired by a rental company to fulfil a special customer requirement, say a particular number or specification of vehicles, with a specific rental term that can be anything from weeks to years.

The vehicles often have bespoke equipment and livery so they fit seamlessly into the existing fleet. The key is that the customers get to specify their requirements and they can still return the vehicles at any time.

Short-term hire, on the other hand, tends to be for vehicles that come from our existing rental fleet for a few days or weeks at a time to fulfil an immediate need without any bespoke elements.

2. At what point does it make sense to contract hire rather than rent?

If you know exactly how many vehicles you need, exactly what specification you need and exactly how long you’re likely to need them for (generally three to five years), it can be more cost-effective to enter a contract hire arrangement. The longer you can commit to, generally speaking, the better the headline rate.

However, there is no flexibility built into the agreement so any unforeseen events over that period can be extremely costly. That’s why flexible rental is increasingly popular right now given the economic and political uncertainty, as well as products like Enterprise’s Fix & Flex Advance that offer long-term contracts with lower charges if the vehicles are returned early.

3. Leased vehicles will soon have to appear on company balance sheets. What is the accountancy treatment of rental vehicles?

With the new rules, rental is now the only off-balance sheet funding for vehicles currently available in the UK. That makes it even more attractive to businesses looking to improve their gearing ratios.

4. How can rental companies provide fleets with vehicles that have the specialist conversions and equipment that they need?

Look for a rental supplier with expertise in your field that can offer consultancy and guidance on the best vehicles and equipment for the job. Work closely with the supplier on the specification of the fleet to ensure it meets your requirements, budget and timescale. Seek assurances that it can offer appropriate replacement vehicles to cover downtime.

It’s also important to choose a rental firm with the financial strength to invest tens of thousands (or even millions) into the specialist vehicle assets that your company needs.

It should have a comprehensive workshop network so vehicles can be acquired, equipped and repaired swiftly. Also, check that the supplier is prepared to work flexibly with your preferred fit-out providers or repair/maintenance network if that suits you better.

5. Some businesses face very seasonal demand. How can they be sure that rental vehicles will be available when they need them?

Seasonal demand can be tricky to cover so engage with your rental partner early on, even three-to-six months ahead of the peak, to ensure the right supply of vehicles at the right time. Enterprise, for example, works with customers to help them understand their seasonal needs – when, where and why. A courier business and a grounds maintenance firm will have vastly different requirements and need vehicles at different times of the year.

Also, check how vehicles are acquired. Enterprise buys all of its vehicles outright rather than using manufacturer buyback agreements, so we can grow our fleet during busy periods by simply suspending sales to increase capacity.

6. Commercial fleets increasingly relying on management information from vehicle telematics systems. How can they maintain this flow of data with rental vehicles?

Rental companies such as Enterprise bring a lot of experience of working with customers to deliver the right telematics solution. If you engage with your rental provider and specify the telematics system of choice, it should be possible to integrate the data.

Enterprise works with multiple providers to integrate their systems into its flexible rental fleet, and is also willing to use whichever technology partners customers prefer. They retain access to the flow of data they need.

7. How should fleets resolve the thorny issue of end-of-rent recharges for refuelling and vehicle damage?

End of rental changes need to be discussed with the rental provider from the outset – ensure your rental provider is signed up to a reputable body like the BVRLA that offers clear guidelines on how to recharge damage. Insist on clear SLAs that will protect both parties.

Enterprise ensures everyone is aware of the terms from the outset to avoid surprises.

We find most of the time we can work together with customers to address potential issues so we never reach a difficult point.

It is also important to be clear from day one how refuelling is charged. Enterprise Flex-E-Rent offers a simple ‘empty to empty’ system, which means vehicles are both rented and returned without fuel. It means no fuel charges and no confusion.

8. As major cities like London introduce low emission zones, how can fleets be sure they comply with the new air quality regulations in a rental vehicle?

Look for a supplier that regularly updates its vehicle fleet, with a low average vehicle age and vehicles that meet the latest emissions standards such as Euro 6. Larger, more established rental providers will upgrade their fleets to ensure their vehicles fit the widest possible range of applications, effectively setting acquisition policies to future-proof their customers.

For more information visit www.flexerent.co.uk, email info@flexerent.co.uk or call 0800 328 9001