Preparing your car for the winter

Winter-Driving

Preparing your car for the winter

It’s that time of year again! The weather may not yet have thrown its worst at us, but as the last year has shown with the “Beast from the East” followed by an unprecedented long, hot summer, we need to be prepared for anything!

At the start of the autumn this means getting your car ready for winter driving.

The checklist includes making sure it has an annual service. Many of the problems caused by the cold can be prevented if you do this.

Battery: the average life of a battery is about five years, and the battery comes under additional strain not only from the cold weather but from heavier use of lights, heater and blower.

Tyres: a good tread is essential for efficient braking and steering, so they need to be at the correct pressure as well as having sufficient depth of tread.

Antifreeze: engine coolant should be a 50/50 mix of water and antifreeze and this can easily become diluted if you have topped up the system with water over the year. Don’t forget the screen wash – a good quality 50% mix of screen wash will reduce the chance of freezing when it is particularly icy.

Windscreen and wipers: give the windscreen a thorough clean both inside and out. Any smears can cause visibility problems when light shines on them.  Wipers will get heavier use during the winter so make sure the wiper blades are in good condition with no nicks and tears.

Lights: these, too, need to be cleaned.

Underseal: when the roads are gritted in icy conditions many don’t realise that the grit contains salt. This can cause damage to the car’s bodywork, so you should also check for scratches and dents in the paintwork to ensure it is not vulnerable to damp getting through to the metal and setting up the conditions for rust to develop.

If you are driving in the winter the advice is to carry a winter emergency breakdown kit with you. This should contain a shovel, blanket, warm coat, torch and for long journeys a hot drink in a flask and a fully topped-up mobile phone.

If you want to avoid all the winter check hassle, you can always rent a vehicle from us. While we can’t supply a personalised winter breakdown kit we do make sure that all our vehicles have been properly checked and prepared for winter driving.

Have you considered fleet rental for your business?

Business-Fleet-Rentals

Have you considered fleet rental for your business?

August is peak holiday season when there is time to relax, regroup and, for business owners, to consider plans for the future.

Whether it is about cutting costs or improving cash flow for growing the business, one of the considerations could be whether you rent or own your fleet of vehicles.

The advantages of fleet rental

Fleet rental is much more flexible than leasing, which ties you into a contract for a specified period of time and can restrict maximum mileage.

With rental, there is no mileage restriction and the rental period can be as flexible as you need for both cars and vans, so you can return the vehicle when you no longer need it without incurring any early cancellation costs.

If you are intending to rent for a reasonable length of time, we can remove the Robertsons branding from the vehicles and you can substitute your own decals of your own company branding.

We do all maintenance, servicing, MOTs and any repairs that may be needed and you will always get an equivalent replacement vehicle while the work is being carried out.

The process of renting depends on who is insuring the vehicle.

If you wanted to use our insurance, we would need to check the licences of all your drivers, who would have to come into our offices, and we would then need to do a DVLA check for each driver every 21 days as a condition of our insurance cover.

If you opt to use your own company’s insurance, we need a copy of the fleet policy.  Your drivers’ licences and DVLA checks will still have to be done but it is your company’s responsibility, so your drivers would not have to attend at our offices.

If your company does not already have an account with us, we ask for a payment in advance of a week’s rental plus a deposit, and then invoice you weekly.

So if your fleet arrangements are coming up for renewal or you are considering replacing the vehicles your company owns, why not give us a call to discuss your needs.

Help us to help you!

Car-Hire-Colchester

Help us to help you!

While we are delighted that demand for our vehicles is extremely high, we never like to let any of our customers down.

But the long period of sunny weather seems to have persuaded people to take more day trips than would normally be expected even at this time of year and so demand for cars for a day has never been higher.

This is only likely to become more intense once the school holidays have started.

But it’s not only demand for cars, it’s also vans as people take advantage of the good weather to have a good clear-out, catch up with the D.I.Y. and sort out their gardens then want to rent a van for a short time to cart away all the rubbish.

So, on a few occasions recently when people have popped in hoping to be able to instantly rent a vehicle we have been in the unfortunate (or fortunate depending on your point of view) position of having to tell them that we have absolutely none available.

Therefore, we are asking all our customers to please call us and give us some warning of when they’re going to want to rent a vehicle.

You won’t have to wait too long because short term rentals will turn over quite quickly, but it helps us to ensure that there’s a vehicle ready for you when you are going to need it, and of course, when you do pop in to collect it the paperwork only takes on average 25 minutes to complete.

Long may the good weather continue!

How we take care of all our rental vehicles

Car-checks

Renting a vehicle for a self-drive holiday overseas

It is important that our clients and customers feel safe and comfortable in any vehicle that they rent from us, so inspection, care and maintenance are all carried out regularly.

For the 7.5 ton lorries, there are very strict rules including a PMI (Preventative Maintenance Inspection) check every eight weeks and these are very extensive.

They are done to a strict schedule and the check includes the vehicle’s fuel system, exhaust system, electrical system, steering, suspension, brakes, mirrors, windows, wipers, speedometer, plugs and cables, emissions, tire wear, lights, seat belts, airbags, gear shifts, indicators and air conditioning.

If a lorry is out with a customer, we arrange to collect it and supply a substitute while the check is being carried out. This check is in addition to the usual annual MoT and the servicing whose frequency depends on the specific mileage each vehicle has done. Generally, we will replace lorries every ten years or sooner if the mileage requires it.

Our rental cars are replaced every three years, when the warranty runs out.  This is partly because it is more cost effective and partly because we find that customers generally do not want to rent a vehicle that is more than three years old.

Every time a rental car is returned to us we check the tyres, water and water bottles, ensure all the light bulbs are working properly and do a thorough clean both inside and out.

Servicing again depends on the mileage reached and our system alerts us to when a service is due, so that even if a car is with a customer it can be recalled to the depot for a service.

As you can see we take our customers’ safety and security very seriously.

Renting a vehicle for a self-drive holiday overseas

Driving-Holidays

Renting a vehicle for a self-drive holiday overseas

A self-drive holiday gives you the flexibility to go where you want and explore interesting places you may come across without having to stick to an itinerary.

If you are thinking of renting a vehicle for a holiday in Europe here’s some basic information to help you.

We will need at least a week’s notice if you want to rent so that we can put the vehicle through our workshop to ensure it is in the best possible condition.  The minimum hire period is two days and there is no maximum. All our vehicles are Right-hand drive.

You need to be at least 21 years old to rent a vehicle and, as with all our rentals, we do check how long you have been driving, whether you have driven in the country previously and that your insurance cover is in order.

Robertson’s will arrange Green Card breakdown cover for you.  That means it’s fully comprehensive, covered by the AA and we also only rent cars still under warranty for overseas trips.

In common with other rental companies, we do charge a 25% surcharge on top of normal UK rental fees.  This is to cover the costs in terms of travel and time away from the office should we have to send a member of staff out to wherever you are if you have been involved in a traffic collision or the car has broken down.

We supply the basic, legally-required accident warning kits, such as triangles, but not hi-visibility jackets or breathalyser kits that are a legal requirement in some countries.  However, we can give you advice on what you will need to carry depending on where you are going.

In some countries, the legal requirements on kit you need will vary with the time of year, so, for example, you may need to have snow tyres and snow socks in the winter in some countries.

Robertson’s will do everything possible to ensure you have a safe, legal and enjoyable holiday. Call us to find out more.

We’re expanding!

We're-Expanding

We’re expanding!

No, we haven’t been eating too many Easter Eggs, we’re delighted to report that we’ve won two new and very large commercial contracts, both due to start in May.

One of these contracts will mean that vehicles will need to be delivered, mostly to locations in Norfolk and Suffolk but also to Kent.

We’ll be acting as sub-contractors for two large vehicle supply companies, Nexus and Assured Vehicle Rental.

So not only are we expanding our fleet and have bought some new KIA CEED 1.6 estate cars, which can be used for multiple purposes, but we’ve also taken on an extra person in the office to cope with the extra admin. 

In addition, we’ve taken on five casual drivers and we are looking to recruit more, so if you or anyone you know can help please do get in touch.

Please also get in touch if you’re a mechanic looking for a new position.  We service and maintain all our cars on site, so we employ our own mechanics and as the business expands we need more.

We’re sometimes asked whether private rental customers can specify the size and type of car they want.  The answer is yes you can.

The vast majority of people rent when their own car is at the garage being fixed and these tend to be the smaller vehicles of the Fiesta and Peugeot type.  However, if we don’t have one available when you need it we may have to supply something a bit bigger. There’s no additional charge for this so there’s no need to worry.

If demand increases as we expect we will also be looking to add to our stock of private rental cars over the coming months.

That’s it for this month – and it’s all good news!

Ours Customers’ Data is Secure

GDPR-Compliant

Reassurance that our customers’ data is secure

As many of you will know, the laws protecting customers’ identity and personal details are being changed and strengthened and businesses must ensure that they are following the new GDPR (General Data Protection Regulations) that come into force in May this year.

While the emphasis has been mainly on online records, the regulations also apply to paper-based records.

At Robertsons, we have computer-based recording systems that are supplied by a specialist.  In our case the information is stored on our supplier’s servers, not on our own computers. However, we have ensured that all our computers are protected and regularly updated.

Our suppliers, Pro Hire, run a specialised rental company data programme and have confirmed that they have spent £100,000 on ensuring they are GDPR compliant. 

We, and they, both have appointed data operations managers to be responsible for both security and regular updates of stored data.

At Robertsons, we also have to keep paperwork for three years for insurance purposes and customers sign agreements that include their personal details plus a copy of the transaction, again with details of the credit or debit card used.

All our paper records are stored in a locked, reinforced cabinet to which only a small number of named individuals are keyholders.  We also keep a list of what all the folders storing this paperwork contain.

We hope this reassures our customers that we are doing everything possible to be GDPR compliant and to ensure their personal information is kept securely.

How to stay healthy on the road

How-to-drive-healthy

Helping drivers to stay healthy while on the road

Many of our vehicles are rented out for work but whether for work or leisure if you are planning a lot of long-distance or daily driving and you have to keep to a timetable, it can play havoc with your health.

However, there are ways of ensuring your health doesn’t suffer and, more importantly, that you are fit to drive since research has shown that thousands of accidents every year are caused by driver fatigue.

We have some tips for you:

Eat healthy

It is tempting and easy when you have to be on the road to pop into the nearest fast food outlet and either minimise the time it takes to eat it or, worse still, eat it while on the road. If you take the time to prepare some healthier snacks before you set off you and your body will benefit and you will still be able to meet your schedule.

Avoid caffeine

You may be tempted to resort to the quick stimulus of caffeine in tea and coffee, but that may well disguise how fatigued you really are and, as we have mentioned, driving while fatigued can be a killer. You may be surprised to learn that drinking plenty of water can re-energise you and prevent recurring fatigue.

Take a break

There is no substitute for a short stop and some fresh air (even when it’s raining), although obviously not by the side of the motorway! It can battle fatigue and revitalise your brain.

Pay attention to posture

On the subject of revitalising your brain, when you’re driving and have been on the road for some time you may have a tendency to slump in your seat.  There is some evidence that slumping and slouching can affect your mood and improving posture can boost both mood and energy levels.

The simple message is, pay attention to your health when you are driving and stay safe.

Happy New Year

Happy-New-Year

Happy New Year

We hope the New Year has started as well for you as it has here at Robertsons

We have welcomed a new manager at head office and have two potential new contracts.

As car sales have been reducing our car rentals have been increasing to the point where we are considering expanding our fleet.

More news on developments next month

Full means Full

Full-means-full

Full means full when returning a rented vehicle

It is stated in our rental agreement that vehicles will be supplied with a full tank and must be returned that way.

Most of our customers try to make sure that their rented vehicle is returned with a full tank of fuel, but sometimes they miscalculate.

There can be several reasons for this.

The first is, and this applies to diesel, when filling a tank, the liquid foams, in the same way as pouring a beer, a fizzy drink or champagne does.  So, the pump will click as full before it actually is.  The secret is to wait for the foam to settle, then continue to add fuel.

The second is that customers can miscalculate the amount of fuel a vehicle will consume on what may seem a relatively short journey.

All our vehicles should be returned to the depot where they were hired, so, for example, if a customer has been on a long journey and is, they think, fairly close to their destination, they may pull into a services station at, say, Ipswich to fill up.  However, they are then surprised to discover how much fuel the vehicle has consumed by the time they reach our Colchester depot. It can be as much as 3.2 litres.

Robertsons’ depots have their own fuel pumps, so a top up is easy to do and waiting until arrival at the depot will avoid these problems.

Customers will not be overcharged, we make very little profit on the fuel.  We do, however, understand that perhaps the prices at the pumps elsewhere, particularly at superstore petrol stations, are highly competitive and there is the added incentive that people can earn bonus points on their loyalty cards, which can be particularly useful at certain times of the year.

We do our best to ensure we have a good relationship with our customers and hope this advice will help avoid that niggling, and fairly common, disagreements that arises at a vehicle rental return.

Watch out for our December blog when we will have news of a special Christmas offer.