Tough tycoon keeps fleet on a tight leash

Phones 4u use Jaama Key2 software

He is renowned for his hard­hitting approach to business -and now this tough stance has filtered down to entrepreneur John Caudwell's company car fleet. Drivers at mobile phone provider The Caudwell Group - owner of Phones 4u - will he denied their expenses claims if they fail to carry out vehicle checks under a new initiative launched by the fleet to ensure its duty of care obligations are being met.

When completing online expenses, drivers will be asked if they have completed checks including oil, MoT, tyre pressures and servicing. If they fail to tick the relevant boxes, the fleet management system, which is linked to the HR department's intranet, will not process their expenses. The no-compromise initiative will be introduced shortly, according to compensation and benefits manager Claire Walker, who is also responsible for the 1,700-strong fleet. She explained; 'We are currently developing this system which should be available in the next two months. covering both company car drivers and cash allowance drivers, for me it is all about risk exposure management as it reduces the risk of being sued for corporate manslaughter. If a driver is found to have lied on the form they face disciplinary action, including a fine.

One risk management expert said that although the new system would create an audit trail, it was vital in these situations that drivers do actually complete the checks. Andy Price, practice leader - motor fleet at Zurich Risk Services, said: 'This is a good idea as it helps drivers think about their responsibilities. But the question is: are drivers actually completing the checks or just ticking the boxes? 'It is a great step forward but fleet managers need to ensure that checks are being completed.' Walker has overseen a huge transition for the Caudwell fleet, moving from a paper-based operation to an online fleet management system.

As a result, fleet bosses claim they are saving thousands of pounds every month and have slashed invoice queries from 150 a month to zero.