Uber Your Way to Savings

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Ride-sharing can cut costs for fleets. But is it right for you?

These days, fleet management companies have to think outside of the car when it comes to controlling spend. And that has some of them looking at alternative mobility solutions, like ride-sharing companies such as Uber.

A few months ago, Wheels announced their partnership with Uber for Business. Wheels maintain and finance an Uber for Business company profile for their clients so that participating fleet drivers can use the account for their business travel needs. When drivers need a ride, they open the app and switch to the Wheels account.

“Rather than driving themselves to an airport and paying for parking, it may be more convenient just to take an Uber and save in daily parking fees,” explains Dan Belknap, Director, Product Management, Wheels. The Uber app captures trip and expense details automatically. “All reporting, visibility, and payment are seamlessly handled,” he adds.

Clear written policy

Belknap notes that there needs to be a clear written policy outlining the rules of engagement for the program. In addition, the repercussions need to be clearly outlined if that policy is not followed.

The partnership also provides fleets the ability to set parameters to manage policy adherence. “For example, fleets may want the program to be available only during weekdays or during select business hours,” says Belknap. A client can set these profile parameters and view the usage data online in FleetView, Wheels’ online management tool.

However, Belknap cautions that it’s unlikely to find a scenario where something like Uber would displace a fleet vehicle. “We have one client that uses it for a handful of drivers in Manhattan because it costs them thousands of dollars a year to lease a parking spot,” he says. “For most people, there are select trips where this becomes the best option for mobility.”

Safety issues

According to David Thornton, VP Sales and Client Services at Foss National Leasing, using a ride-sharing program like Uber offers an opportunity to capture fleet related expenses accurately. “There are efficacies out there to capture the mobility expense,” he says. “On the other hand, you may potentially have safety issues because you’re not getting into a sanctioned ‘cab,’ so you don’t have the insurance coverage of a rental car.”

For a sales rep who works mostly inside, and sometimes visits a couple of customers here and there, or has a territory like Toronto, they may be better off without a signed company vehicle but rather a pool vehicle or a car-sharing system.

“It’s more of a sales fleet discussion,” says Thornton. “But also remember, the car may be part of the remuneration in this situation. So they’re not going to take Uber locally, but if they travel, rather than doing a $50 to $80 rental car, maybe they need a $30 Uber.”

“There are certain cost savings,” he agrees. “Within the sales fleet, do they want to track those costs as travel… or do they want to capture them as fleet expenses?”

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