Given the recent changes globally, how do you see corporate fleet management evolving in the short term?
In the short term, I expect fleet managers to explore the options that are available to them right now: contract recalculations, contract extensions. Behind the screens, however, corporate fleet owners are starting to think more strategically. Most of them have established that when people work from home, they’ll be needing “less car.” They also understand that “digital” is the way forward, even for client/vendor interactions. From this point onwards, we see two types of fleet managers: First: The ones that continue using the options of the “old world” (contracts on lower mileage, cash allowances) and Second: The ones that are thinking outside the box (mobility, sharing).
What do you think an enterprise can do right now to adapt?
“Never waste a good crisis!” Use this opportunity to redesign fleet management in the function of the new parameters. It’s the right time to liaise with HR and discuss a review of the benefit packages within the new parameters. Don’t be afraid to address sensitive topics, such as eligibility.We know perfectly well what’s going to happen next, even if the timing is unsure: (1) The end of the pandemic (cure/vaccine), which will give people the confidence to use solutions such as public transport again, and then (2) A period during which the economy will re-establish itself, during which savings and efficiencies will be critical.A decade ago, we should have learned from the GFC that the timing to prepare for change is now, and not 2021.
Implementing major change at pace is difficult for large enterprises; how do you suggest they can accelerate and simplify this process?
Change coming from the Fleet category is slow indeed, as it’s a supporting function within any corporate. Now, however, we see the HR/Sales/Finance functions aligned on the need for change. The Fleet Manager needs to plug into the rationale of corporate leadership and “ride the wave”: tell them a story that supports their needs and strategies, and you’ll see that a mandate for change comes fast.
Now more than ever, there is a strong business case for generating cost savings and efficiencies for the business. Focusing on cost reduction is an excellent place to start, digitise your fleet, structure, and uniform your data and build a cornerstone for future innovation with a staged approach.
What would you say the three most prominent pain points are right now in your dealings with large enterprise, and what do you think are the immediate solutions?
- Revenue loss and focus on savings and efficiencies. The fleet category needs to provide both. Reduce the fleet size without impacting employee mobility.
- Underutilisation of assets: not just the cars, but also office space and other real estates. Find alternatives to the company car.
- Employee Benefits: the post-COVID employee will want different things. Find alternatives to the “car as a benefit.”
Alternative mobility has been made difficult with recent challenges; what suggestions do you have for enterprise still working on these projects?
Don’t stop. Public transport and other shared solutions might be a bit difficult now, but that doesn’t take away that the fundamental change is about efficiencies and employee benefits. Designing strategies based on (unfortunate) temporary obstacles is not the right thing to do.
Right now, having a real understanding of your fleet's utilisation rate can be fundamental to providing transport to staff that need it. If there is a portion of your underutilised fleet, it makes sense to make these available to staff for use as a way of safe mobility. I would say that looking at your fleet first and using a sound pool car management system for bookings, pick-ups, and returns along with car sanitisation would be an excellent place to start. A pool car solution will open the door to introducing mobility as part of employee benefits and provide insights into staff satisfaction and potential adoption rates.
Cost reduction and utilisation is at the forefront of discussions right now, how can technology play a role in helping enterprise right now?
Right now, I believe tech can help with providing better control over expenditure, improving transparency with better data management, and giving teams a shared platform to work on rather than multiple spreadsheets and asset registers. These times can be a catalyst for change and help improve traditional methods. We are seeing it with all kinds of businesses across the world right now, where adopting shared platforms and tech solutions are improving productivity, efficiency, accountability, and results for all types of teams. Fleet and procurement are no exception and now can create change at a rapid pace with cost savings and efficiency being such a strong business case. Transparency and visibility are some of the most significant challenges for fleet managers globally, and now is an opportunity to take advantage and accelerate digital innovation.
We very much appreciate the time and effort Yves has taken in responding to our questions, and we hope readers get as much value as we have. More talks will be coming up as part of our “Ask an Expert” series, discussing the rapidly evolving fleet and mobility market.