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Care home cuts costs and safeguards employees with new minibus fleet

A new fleet of minibuses is helping a nationwide care home business to ensure staff safety while also enhancing flexibility and cutting costs through a switch to leasing.

Sunrise initially hired 36 seven-seaters for staff travel to safeguard employees and is now starting to replace them with nine-seat accessible minibuses with wheelchair access

Sunrise Senior Living UK runs 46 Sunrise and Gracewell residential care locations and uses minibuses to provide essential patient and resident travel.

A review of the fleet had already found a move from ownership to leasing/rental would bring greater benefits – but lockdown accelerated the switch as the firm needed to also be able to provide staff with safe options for travel to and from work, without the need to use public transport.

Sunrise immediately hired 36 seven-seaters from Enterprise for staff travel, which were sourced and delivered within two days at the end of March.

It’s now looking to replace the seven-seaters with nine-seat accessible minibuses with wheelchair access on a five-year contract hire model, which will bring a number of benefits.

Sunrise director of procurement Chris Dean explained: “The number-crunching established that leasing was the best route. Enterprise included full maintenance, servicing, repairs and even offers maintenance on-site, which means the minibuses are on the road more of the time and able to support more activities. We’re really pleased with how Enterprise helped us. The response is always very quick.”

Dean added that a few locations were already using nine-seater MPVs as there was less legislation: “You don’t need a special licence to drive them, although we instigate training for our minibus drivers as a safety measure. The reduced legislation brought reduced costs, so we recently decided to explore ways of hiring more smaller-sized vehicles.”

There have also been other benefits to the switch, he continued: “We approached Enterprise among a number of companies, and they came up with the best, most rounded deal that included full maintenance, servicing and repairs with an on-site option. Previously our 15-seater minibuses would be out of action for a couple of days every 10 weeks. We’re now going to have one day a year without access to the new minibuses which means they are on the road a lot more, able to do more activities.”

Danny Glynn, managing director of Enterprise Flex-E-Rent, said: “Organisations now appreciate that ensuring safe, reliable, efficient mobility for customers and employees is an essential part of their business service.

“They need solutions that enable vehicles to be quickly added or replaced as their needs change, which is exactly what rental is designed to deliver.”

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Written by Natalie Middleton

Natalie has worked as a fleet journalist for nearly 20 years, previously as assistant editor on the former Company Car magazine before joining Fleet World in 2006. Prior to this, she worked on a range of B2B titles, including Insurance Age and Insurance Day.

Natalie edits all the Fleet World websites and newsletters, and loves to hear about any latest industry news.

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