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Comment: Finding small ways to make a big impact to the bottom line

Peter O’Driscoll, managing director at RingGo

As many companies tighten their focus on business efficiencies, Peter O’Driscoll, managing director, RingGo, looks at how fleets can take control of parking costs.

Due to the Covid-19 outbreak, companies are caught between trying to maintain business continuity as well as adapt to whatever the ‘new normal’ looks like. With lockdown raising questions about the future of public transport and mobility systems, businesses are developing plans for what comes next, despite not being able to predict the future. In re-evaluating what ‘business as usual’ means, there is a large focus on where efficiency can be optimised and cost savings increased.

A key part of balancing the books is making sure that cost effectiveness and productivity coexist. Having a finger on the pulse of both measurements can help keep organisations operationally and fiscally healthy, and the more that these elements can be controlled, the better. Often many small businesses, find themselves having to deal with legacy systems – especially for back-office process such as expenses.

This results in time-consuming processes for a business and being more dependent on employees. However, there are ways to phase smarter technology into the expense process that don’t require starting from scratch. Solutions that bill a business directly, summarise invoices and ensure that staff are not out of pocket can provide stability and increase productivity from both a business and employee standpoint.

When looking at areas that can benefit from this kind of solution, many can often be overlooked and that is where the big savings can actually happen. One area that can benefit from simplified and sophisticated expense systems is parking. With a focus on ensuring that cash flow is maintained, now and when employees start traveling again, businesses need to consider ways in which money and time can be saved for those out in the field.

Understanding habits and easing pain points

Despite the option for reimbursement, there is a good chance that many have built up hundreds or thousands of parking fees that go unclaimed due to lost receipts or the laborious process of submitting them. If organisations implement a centralised solution that allows employees to pay for parking through the business, not only will it ensure that employees are not out of pocket, it will also enable the business to track parking costs and plan for the expense.

As a starting point, before realising the benefits of simplified parking payment solutions, organisations need to understand employee habits, pain points and needs.

When considering the fleet size of businesses within the SME bracket, it may not feel like enough vehicles to have parking make an impact on the bottom line, but when you start to calculate the number of parking sessions that a small number of vehicles can wrack up over a year, the impact can be significant.

The biggest area impacted by employing a payment solution for parking is time. Enabling employees to locate available parking spaces, be directed towards them, park and pay quickly optimises their time whilst out and about. This is especially important to fleet parking as it is often only for short periods of time, so any circling or queueing up to pay can make quite a dent in a delivery schedule or repair appointment times. However, as the time spent can sometimes be immeasurable, drivers often find themselves overpaying for parking to avoid incurring fines. This applies to drivers that find themselves staying locally and those that travel the length of the UK, having a payment system that is available in a wide range of areas saves time, stress and money.

Back in the office, having a centralised service that gives businesses and employees the ability to create direct invoices for payments and help manage transaction history provides multiple benefits. Businesses are no longer being troubled by long expense or reimbursement admin, they have more control over parking costs and can reduce the frequency of fines. In addition, employees don’t find themselves out of pocket without reliable expense repayment schedules.

Using data to reap the benefits

Now more than ever, making a change to current processes may be unsettling for business leaders, especially when there is no way to prove the benefits prior to implementation. This is something that is particularly common when it involves small, frequent, and often inconsistent transactions – something that fleet parking has in abundance.

In order to ensure reliability and lower uncertainty, businesses need to look for solutions with proof points and concrete examples of how implementing a centralised system can produce tangible benefits. Often the main hurdle is changing the culture and getting everyone in the business to understand that an alternative solution will enable both employees and employers to maintain control, save costs and increase efficiency.

Quite simply, there needs to be a demonstratable ROI that incentivises the move from the age old paper receipt process to a new technology based process. By looking at elements such as employee salary (annual, day rate and hourly rate), the business’ number of employees, the number of monthly parking transactions, time saved, etc, the business will be able to see how much money and time can be saved on a monthly basis – something that will become increasing beneficial for finance forecasting.

There is an undeniable need for businesses to save in more ways than one. However to do so, the benefits need to be evident to both employer and employee to ensure adoption, enhance productivity and create cost efficiencies.

Written by Natalie Middleton

Natalie has worked as a fleet journalist for nearly 20 years, previously as assistant editor on the former Company Car magazine before joining Fleet World in 2006. Prior to this, she worked on a range of B2B titles, including Insurance Age and Insurance Day. As Business Editor, Natalie ensures the group websites and newsletters are updated with the latest news.

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