On 23 March, when the Prime Minister announced strict new measures to limit the spread of Covid-19, including stopping all gatherings of more than two people in public, business owners and managers across the fleet and logistics sector, had instant decisions to make about how they could keep their organisations operating during lockdown.
Nick Caesari, CEO of Fleet Source, the UK’s largest independent CPC and fleet training providers, had a full schedule of driver training courses booked and a suite of new training programmes and initiatives all set for launch to the sector.
He commented: “We had no choice, of course, but to cancel all classroom-based training courses and we did that up until the end of June, immediately refunding or rescheduling all courses, so our customers could plan accordingly. Our industry virtually skidded to a halt, just as demand for qualified drivers to deliver our vital foods, medicines and everyday essentials was to go through the roof.”
In common with businesses across the sector, Fleet Source furloughed the majority of its staff and started to plan for the immediate and longer-term challenges of lockdown with its senior management team working from home.
“It was crucial for us to manage our cost base as quickly and efficiently as we could to safeguard jobs, but we also need to continue to support our clients through this crisis and work together as an industry to plan for a future after the current restrictions are lifted,” said Caesari.
The team immediately accelerated plans to launch a TV-based training solution ‘Fleet Source Live’ across its Driver CPC classroom course offering, gaining approval from the DVSA for a ‘Livecast’ programme of interactive content, designed to give delegates a much more engaging experience than traditional webinar solutions. The first course went live on 8 April, with a number of the company’s longer-term clients recording great feedback from its work-from-home delegate base.
Fleet Source now plans a livestream news and industry information service from its Letchworth office, where clients can dip in and out of training talks and sector updates.
The company has also undertaken research with commercial fleet companies across the UK to gauge the impact of Covid-19 on them and their business and to help support them through and beyond the lockdown.
The findings, which are currently being collated, point to fears across the fleet industry that once travel restrictions are lifted, there will be greater demand for Driver CPC than the specialist training industry can supply – just as we need the logistics industry to get our economy moving again. Fleet operators also expressed concerns about the possibility of price increases as a knock-on effect of the impact of supply issues.
Nick Caesari said: “We’re doing everything we can to support the industry through and beyond this crisis and maintaining the highest quality training at the most affordable prices is a crucial part of that support. Many of our long-term clients are rewarding us for that commitment, by entering into long-term contracts, protecting themselves from the price increases which will be an inevitable consequence of an industry recouping its lockdown-period losses.”
Just before the Government’s announcement on social distancing measures to protect against Covid-19, Fleet Source had launched its Essentials range of courses for fleet operators, bringing Driver CPC training costs down to as little as £350 per course – or just £14.58 per driver.
“That announcement struck a real chord with the industry and bookings are in place for the latter end of this year,” said Caesari. “In the interim, our Fleet Source Live solution is helping to ensure that the growing backlog of driver CPC training does not impact clients’ businesses post this crisis and during the vital business recovery period.
“Ours is a dynamic industry working very hard to meet current challenges and prepare for the future beyond Covid-19. We’ll do everything we can to work with them to deliver the right solutions to meet their needs.”