As they drive to be more competitive, fleet management companies say they’re focusing more intently on delivering an improved experience to their customers.
This statement could go in several directions, but three stand out.
According to a 2017 Automotive Fleet article, “What Are the Most Valuable Services Offered by FMCs?” what fleet customers want most from their fleet management company is technology solutions and data analytics and maintenance (tied at 30.23%). Second, at 27.9%, is personal/customer service.
(That story is available at https://www.automotive-fleet.com/160035/what-are-the-most-valuable-services-offered-by-fmcs).
“This highlights the shift away from FMCs as pure leasing companies, as FMC customers focus more on the complete package of fleet management,” the story noted.
Chris Clarke, manager of North American remarketing operations for ARI, told Auto Remarketing his company continues to focus on delivering best-in-class client experience and finding innovative ways to exceed customer expectations.
“A shift is underway, and clients are looking for even greater levels of consultation when it comes to their business. It has gone from clients asking us, to ARI proactively advising them on how to sell faster and get a better return for their assets,” Clarke said. “Our goal is to continue to enhance the client experience.”
He said the company leverages technology such as machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) to help ARI’s remarketing professionals identify quickly market trends and make more accurate predictions on shifts in the marketplace. These technologies used in ARI’s business model, Clarke said, have resulted in a 27% reduction in turn times for client assets over the last three to four years.
“Clients are extremely well-informed and have high expectations. If a fleet management company is not on its game, it is always at risk of not exceeding those expectations, including service, delivery excellence, best-in-class net returns, data and transparency. It’s vital that we remain agile and anticipate trends on the horizon to help ensure we remain at the forefront of the industry,” Clarke said.
Improving driver safety and enhancing driver convenience has been a strong focus in recent years for Element Fleet Management, as has reducing cost of ownership for its customers, said Paul Seger, executive vice president, asset remarketing.
According to Seger, telematics data plays an important role in the effort to drive down ownership costs, delivering insights into the best time to cycle fleet vehicles for optimizing remarketing sale prices, and avoiding costly maintenance.
In its white paper, “2019 Future of Telematics: Beyond Enterprise Fleet Management,” Silent Passenger, which markets vehicle tracking solutions, noted the importance of big data in influencing business decisions.
“Big data influences workflows and processes with the evolution of smart cities, vehicle connectivity and highly informed customers. Telematics, data mining, artificial intelligence and machine learning... are instrumental in improving and simplifying large fleet management operations,” the Silent Passenger white paper authors noted.
As the use of advanced in-vehicle technology continues to become more common across the industry, these vehicles are quickly becoming more costly to repair, said Clarke.
“We are starting to see more instances of relatively minor accidents resulting in expensive repair estimates, which are resulting in more ‘no-fix’ decisions by many of our clients. There appears to be an emerging trend here, and I would expect to see many of our damaged and insurance auction partners begin to see a spike in inventory as more fleets opt to replace units rather than incur costly repairs,” Clarke said.
“We are continuing to work closely with all of our auction partners to make sure we provide a thorough and accurate condition report that our buyers can depend on. Transparency and appropriate disclosures remain a cornerstone of the auction process. We have spent decades building a following of loyal buyers who trust our brand. If a lane-departure light (turn signal) is not working, that’s something that needs to be noted in the condition report.”
Fleet management companies prudently have their eyes on the evolution of the electric vehicle (EV) market. Managing EV fleets will require many of the traditional and foundational services these companies provide.
A white paper from Enterprise Fleet Management offers ideas for fleet customers concerned about sustainability and lowering the environmental impact of their EV fleets.
“Many fleet management companies offer voluntary Carbon Reporting and Offset programs to help determine the company’s emissions impact,” the white paper noted.
The document also summed nicely the challenge and opportunity set before fleet management companies to service their fleet customers. “The process of selecting a vehicle and determining its TCO (total cost of ownership) is not a one-size-fits-all formula,” the white paper said.