Radian is an award-winning housing and care provider with 20,000 homes across the south of England and provides support packages to over 400 people across the region. With a turnover in excess of £105m, Radian’s financial strength allows them to invest in new and existing homes and communities thus helping them meet their strategic objectives. Sam McIndoe is the fleet manager of Technical Services, the directorate responsible for undertaking repairs and maintenance to the housing stock. Here, she talks to Sue Hurst about her role and challenges the department faces on a day to day basis.
What is your remit as Fleet Manager at Radian?
I am responsible for the operational management and maintenance of Radian’s vehicle fleet of 166 vehicles. The van fleet supports the workforce of grounds maintenance operatives, gas engineers, carpenters, plumbers and other repairs and maintenance trades.
We invest £30m annually in repairs and maintenance of our stock which allows us to complete 65,000 repairs,14,000 boiler services, 750 kitchen replacements and 500 bathroom replacements each year.
My job is to ensure that all the fleet is up together and can help to deliver our service to the highest standard possible. I‘m responsible for ensuring the vehicle fleet is compliant with H&S legislation as well as company and transport regulations.
On a daily basis I have to ensure that all vehicles are safe to be on the road and fit for purpose.
What are the biggest issues and challenges currently facing your department?
My day-to-day challenges include dealing with all the different needs and demands of the trades staff. In addition making sure that each operative has a van fit for purpose, is safe and does the job they need it to reliably.
Making sure we are always up-to-date and complaint with all regulations relevant to us as an LGV fleet is a continued challenge as I am the only person looking after our fleet of 166 vehicles.
How much does technology affect your role and what initiatives have you rolled our recently – or plan to roll out – utilising new technology?
All our vans are fitted with trackers which will plot the exact location and journey history of all vans – this helps our operation be more efficient and respond quickly to emergency repair requests. Many of our vans are fitted with speed limiters to reduce the risk of speed-related accidents and reduce fuel consumption.
Most of our trades work from PDAs – hand held units issuing them with their jobs. Each trade has their own geographical patch and the system will send them jobs in their areas, making sure we work in the most efficient way. This works well when combined with the trackers.
Do you use any framework agreements when procuring vehicles?
Yes we are members of the Procurement For Housing Scheme through the Procurement Partnership. This allows us to get very good discounts on our fleet purchases. We can also specify the dealer we wish to use and the PFH scheme acts as our agent getting us the best service possible. We also get an advantage with fitting all the extras to our vans like tow bars, bulkheads, ply lining etc.
What types of vehicles are you running on the fleet and why?
We have Ford and Volkswagen vehicles on our fleet. We run different sizes of panel vans, (Transit/Transporter and Connect/caddy size) tippers, flats beds: some with cages, some with tailifts… and a Luton!
We have a wide range of tradesmen from grounds maintenance through to gas engineers and so need a wide variety of vehicles to make sure their individual vans allow them to carry out the works they are issued. We see our vans as an extension of their toolbox.
Are you looking to implement EVs or any other ‘green’ technologies?
We believe that the environmental dividend can be achieved through behaviour change. We currently offer NVQ 2 in driving goods vehicles to all our staff and all trades have been through the Blue Lamp Trust driver awareness training programme. A lot of positive feedback was gained from these sessions and we expect driver behaviour will change for the better. Better driving should reduce fuel consumption and reduce wear on the vans meaning they will last longer. We want our staff to take pride in their vans and enjoy driving them.
Speed limiters are another way in which we try to reduce our carbon footprint by using less fuel.
Our PDA system also helps to organise the trades and make the best use of their locations and time, thus saving fuel and unnecessary journeys.
How do you use services from other companies to help run a smooth fleet operation?
The organisation’s fleet management is carried out by me with no external consultants. I make sure all services and MOTs are up-to-date. I have a computer package to assist me with this.
As mentioned we use the PFH scheme for procurement, Masternaut for our tracking system and many local garages for our servicing and repairs including MCS Garage Services Ltd in Eastleigh, Liss Garage Services and M&T Engineering in Windsor. We like to support local business within our areas as part of our community responsibilities. We purchase many of our vans from Hendy Group in Southampton.
I have a very productive relationship with ATS and get our tyres through the Government Procurement Service (GPS) Framework Agreement. It gives us great value top quality Michelin tyres for all our fleet.
Our graphics on our vans are the most visible part of our organisation and we are proud to say we designed them ourselves, Allspeeds signs, a local company, are a great partner to us always ensuring the vans are liveried to a high standard.
Do you implement any schemes to improve driver habits?
We are very aware that changing behaviours of drivers will bring benefits to us all.
We also expect all trades to adhere to the ‘The Radian Way’. This is our company behaviour framework which helps us to focus on how we do what we and how we treat colleagues.
It looks at five key areas of behaviour expressed in the workplace: Engage, Change, Communicate, Service and Team.
Instant ‘thank you’ rewards are a direct result of this scheme, these allow me to issue shopping vouchers to those I feel take good care of their vans, similar schemes will be introduced soon for lowest fuel consumption and other associated driving.
What is the most rewarding element of your role?
The satisfaction of seeing all the vans out on the road working, knowing that I play a part in that.
…and what is the most frustrating?
The single most frustrating part of my role is not having all the vans up to my standard of cleanliness at all times, it’s very hard to make sure 166 operatives are keeping their vans clean and tidy!
Another big frustration for me is that it has become apparent that most outside companies who get in touch with me assume I am male! Especially being called Sam!