Public relations is not usually a high priority for fleet managers – and understandably so.
The responsibility of managing a fleet of vehicles, keeping down costs, striving for optimum operational efficiency, meeting legislative requirements and orchestrating a mobile workforce ensures the job is enough of a juggling act without more responsibility thrown on top.
But the effect of good PR should not be underestimated. Microsoft founder Bill Gates once said, “If I was down to my last dollar, I’d spend it on public relations,” and he certainly knows a thing or two about running a successful business.
The thing is, PR doesn’t have to be a burden. Telematics systems provide a great toolbox for enhancing company reputation and, simply by sharing the right data with those responsible for your company’s PR and marketing, it is possible to make a significant difference.
Green is the colour
In the case of companies operating a number of vehicles, limiting the impact of emissions on the environment is a big part of projecting a positive image.
A recent study of 10,000 global consumers revealed 90 percent are more likely to trust and be loyal to socially-responsible businesses compared to companies that don’t show these traits.
Unsurprisingly, businesses are listening. The streamlined, eco-friendly trucks travelling up and down our motorways are a perfect example of turning a commitment to sustainability into good PR.
That’s just the start. Many businesses use telematics systems in order to reduce fuel spend and CO2 output, turning data on fuel efficiency, idling, routing and driver performance into valuable insights identifying areas for improvement.
Even if cost reduction was the primary driver for adoption of a telematics system, improved green credentials are a happy consequence. If you are already tracking fuel efficiency and emissions as part of a performance push, why not let people know when the figures show a positive trend?
Such evidence can be used in marketing material, award entries and tender documents, particularly when customers require a demonstrable commitment to sustainability. Zenith Hygiene Group provide the perfect example, having secured tens of thousands of pounds worth of coverage after cutting annual CO2 emissions by 600 tonnes.
The next step in service
When it comes to customers, service is also key and the best way to improve reputation is through reliability, trust and expertise.
If, for example, competitors promise call-outs within two hours, why not go one better? Take advantage of the data available through telematics to ensure the most appropriate employee is sent to each job and directed along the quickest route, slashing response times.
Scotia Gas Networks (SGN) implemented a telematics system for this reason but found it could improve safety at the same time. By using data on driver behaviour collected by the technology, the company has been able to work with employees to adopt a safer, more efficient driving style.
This reputation as a responsible employer has been further strengthened, particularly in a PR sense, by the ability to use information on driver behaviour to address complaints received, particularly via social media.
SGN’s presence on Twitter and Facebook led to them receiving occasional complaints and pictures accusing staff of poor driving practice. Now these can be dealt with in a swift, professional manner using the appropriate evidence.
So, while PR might not be a traditional concern for the fleet manager, it is a crucial factor in winning and retaining business.
In an increasingly competitive marketplace, the ability to demonstrate sustainability, reliability and responsibility can provide a crucial competitive edge.