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Small businesses waste valuable money on preventable car breakdowns

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The UK’s small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are losing the use of vehicles for almost three working weeks (14 days) each year, costing them an average income loss of £248 per day, or £3,472 across the year.

According to the business owners and managers who took part in our survey, common faults for employee breakdowns include flat tyres (36 per cent), faulty batteries (25 per cent), electrical faults (23 per cent) and low oil levels (22 per cent). This echoes our own data which shows that the two most common causes of roadside breakdown for fleet customers in 2015 were wheel changes (23 per cent) and flat batteries (12 per cent).

Our latest research shows that one-in-five SMEs believe that nearly half of these breakdowns could have been prevented if they had received early warning to the problem or by using in-car technology such as telematics.

In addition to the obvious financial burden these preventable faults are causing, there is also a significant impact on business managers’ time, with 42 per cent of firms spending more than 75 hours a year dealing with out-of-action vehicles. This is a significant waste of resource, on top of the financial impact, all of which could be avoided.

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While employees are becoming busier and busier, there is no need for company car maintenance to become a burden. For the average team member, keeping the company car in top notch condition is not a number one priority, nor something they are qualified to do, and yet losing a car for even a few days can bring a business to a standstill and disrupt a company’s best laid plans.

So what can be done? There can be a tendency in a business for reduced responsibility and people to assume someone else will deal with issues, especially if the vehicle is shared by several employees in a car pool, but this is where technology can really save the day.

Technology which provides firms with real-time information are a goldmine. Having this sort of data and insight available will empower managers to save their business both time and money by reducing avoidable vehicle maintenance.

In addition, business managers and owners can avoid unnecessary breakdowns by getting cars serviced regularly, checking things like tyres and making sure the spare wheel has got plenty of tread and is inflated, ready for use. It is also helpful for employees if you have vital information, such as a car handbook and road map, readily available as well as communicating clearly what type of fuel it takes, and what to do if there is an incident or breakdown.

Sometimes breakdowns are unavoidable and while this is a hassle, it’s just a part of business life and where breakdown cover can help. In other circumstances, there are straightforward steps SMEs can take to mitigate the risk, keep cars on the road and ultimately save hard earned cash.

Nick Walker is MD at RAC Telematics.

Elsewhere in the car sector, 52 per cent of the UK’s small business bosses have confessed to hiring cars to win over clients – looks like those driverless car orders could end up going through the roof.

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