Small Business editor of the NZ Herald

Small business: Embracing the cloud - Nick Hill

Nick Hill is the business manager of Auckland-based driver education firm FleetSafe NZ.

Nick Hill, business manager of FleetSafe.
Nick Hill, business manager of FleetSafe.

Can you tell me a bit about FleetSafe?

Fleetsafe NZ is a driver and fleet risk assessment and education organisation. Through our online and practical programmes we aim to significantly reduce financial costs and improve adherence to health and safety objectives over long-term operations.

We have five full-time employees as well as a number of qualified contractors. Together we deliver an online risk assessment of each driver within a fleet and if necessary follow on with practical driver training sessions.

We opened our first international office at the start of 2014, based in Singapore, where we deliver safety training messages to young drivers through a school-visit programme, and support New Zealand businesses working in the Asia region.

What products/services do you offer through the cloud?

Our programmes focus on preventing risky driving behaviours and situations. We offer online risk assessment and mitigation training for drivers of both light and heavy vehicles. The programme takes staff through 20 hazard scenarios followed by 28 multi-choice questions around driving theory, behaviour, attitude, road rules and so on. From here an online risk evaluation report is prepared for the driver's manager.

This evaluation takes into account the participant's behaviour and attitudes, and includes a mitigation plan, which we call a 'prescription'. Of the 24 online education units available, the system generally prescribes around six to eight depending on the driver's profile. The prescribed education units, also online modules, are generally undertaken once a month across a year. By spreading out the units it reinforces what the drivers are learning and keeps the message front of mind.

Why have you chosen to deliver your training through the cloud?

Driver behaviour is fundamentally about decision making; 90% of all road incidents are related to driver decision making, not an inability to drive.

The online platform gives us the best opportunity to assess and educate a driver's attitude and behaviour. The online components enable us to efficiently and effectively assess a large number of drivers nationally and internationally along with assisting a company in meeting its health and safety requirements.

The online training also provides an employer with a permanent record of the assessment and education that an employee has undertaken. The online tool also enables us to assess participants at a fraction of the cost it would take to physically assess each and every driver. We are then able to help our clients to direct resources to the 'riskier' drivers within their fleet.

What have been the challenges of delivering cloud-based services in this particular sector?

Traditionally driver training has been a behind-the-wheel, track-based programme. However, working in conjunction with our technical advisory panel and based on international research, it's been identified that an online programme targeting attitude and behaviour is far more effective. Track-based training has also been proven to give drivers a false sense of confidence and fails to address the attitude and behavioural factors that cause most crashes.

One of the challenges we faced, especially in the heavy vehicle sector, was gaining access to the drivers for them to complete their online assessment because of their large workload and the minimal time they traditionally spend in front of a computer.

To overcome this, we reduced the time it takes to complete the assessment, from more than 90 minutes to 25 minutes. We also made the mitigation modules compatible with smartphones and tablets, so drivers could complete these at home, on their breaks or before or after a shift.

One of the benefits of a cloud-based business model is that it's scalable and has the potential for global reach? What are your ambitions for the company and how would you like to see it grow?

By having a cloud-based assessment tool we are able to take our business global with relative ease, which is our ambition. We have a New Zealand-based client who has employees that are based in Dubai, Holland and Singapore. With our online tool, that is set up to work in 72 countries, and in multiple languages, we were able to offer them an easy solution that would work for their employees both nationally and internationally avoiding their need, or even our need, to contract various providers around the world.

Having the ability to scale is a great advantage of having our business in the cloud. It enables us to offer immediate services to customers whether they are a fleet of 10 or 1,000.

- NZ Herald

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