Dawsonrentals|truck & trailer has launched an App-based system to support customers taking and returning vehicles. The aim is to eliminate any misunderstandings on vehicle conditions at both ends of their rental or lease.
John Fletcher, managing director of the Dawsonrentals|truck & trailer division, says, “Collection and return conditions have always been a contentious area, right across the industry. Largely, this has been because companies have relied on paper-based systems that have unavoidably been less than perfect, with too many areas in which conditions could be decided in a rather subjective way. It has been a regular cause of unhappiness for both sides of the relationship for far too long. So Dawsonrentals has invested significantly in the development of a system, operated on a tablet or smart phone, that allows both parties to inspect, compare, agree, sign and record electronically, in photographic form where required, a vehicle’s condition in great detail, both before and after the contract period. All that information is then emailed immediately both to the customer’s offices and our own central records, as well as a paper copy being printed out for the driver to take away.
“Our objectives are simple. We want to do everything we can to support our customers in their duties of compliance, by ensuring we only offer vehicles going out that are fully fit-for-purpose. As part of that, we want absolute transparency of the hand-over and return process. Something that relies on factual, properly recorded details that have been agreed openly and honestly by both parties. For instance, if we have a vehicle with a pre-existing issue that doesn’t directly affect its ‘rentability’, it is recorded on the App and stays on the vehicle’s record until such time as we are able to address it. There is no longer any danger that customers returning trucks or trailers in the future, possibly to a different branch, will be faced with any ‘Yes it was. No it wasn’t’ conversations. Both parties will have a clear and comprehensive record to judge against – and that binds us just as it would the customer.
“When you understand that the corner-stone of virtually all our agreements is based on those fundamental hand-over and return moments, it is impossible to overstate the importance of getting them right for both parties. They are the key, critical aspects on which long-term relationships can flourish for the benefit of all concerned. ”
Dawsonrentals estimates that it has invested well over £50,000 into developing the software programme that under-pins the App, and months of extensive testing have now been carried over into lengthy training among staff across all 24 UK branches prior to launch. Every generic vehicle type has been photographed in high quality detail, to allow customers to identify any areas they wish to be recorded on the vehicles they are taking. By simply tapping the tablet or phone screen, the Dawsonrentals representative can make specific, detailed notes of such issues, as well as taking and recording a photo of the particular point that concerns the customer and logging it all on the same device, instantly adding it into the overall record.
TAKING A HIGHER VIEW
The roofs of trailers and trucks are often a major bugbear for both parties, as they are normally hard to see clearly. As part of overcoming this ‘final frontier’, Dawsonrentals is running extensive tests with a novel ‘drone’ camera that flies up and over the vehicle, taking clear photographs of the roof condition. These shots can be reviewed by customers and Dawsonrentals staff at the time and added to the App records.
Results to date says John Fletcher have been “extremely encouraging” and an unexpected but very welcome bonus of these in-depth trials to date has been the discovery of defects in the roofs of even new vehicles coming direct from the manufacturers. “That alone,” adds John Fletcher, “has saved possible future problems for customers and ourselves. There is every reason to expect we would have handed these bits of equipment over to them as brand new, which they were, with both parties therefore expecting them to be ‘faultless’.”
Dawsonrentals has now rolled out the App to all branches and it is beginning to make its presence felt in the form of even happier customers and less harassed staff.
John Fletcher notes, “I guess there was always a danger some ‘joker’ would start talking about a spy-in-the-sky with the drone camera, but that would be to miss a very serious point entirely. The drone camera, the tablet and phone cameras and the App records themselves are quite the reverse of anything underhand. They are completely transparent, remove room for any human error and are there to protect Dawsonrentals customers from any possibility of misunderstanding. By using the new App at the moment of hand-over, everyone has a perfectly accurate record of the vehicle condition going out, a record that can then be used to review its return condition. And again, on that return, the same processes are followed: both we and the customer sign-off, on App, for the return record, before it is sent direct to their base and our central team.”