Fleet management is about more than just ‘ticking boxes’. It needs a personal touch. Someone who will pick up the phone and sort out a problem before it affects your business, your drivers or, ultimately, your customers.
While vehicles and data are an important aspect of any fleet, it’s the people that matter. That’s why Fleet Service GB puts customer service at the heart of everything it does.
The business is relatively young, founded just five years ago. But it is managed by an experienced team that has decades of fleet experience.
Its focus on giving customers what they want has enabled it to establish a robust customer base in a short space of time. The company manages 8,500 vehicles and 5,000 drivers for its 35 clients.
Executive chairman Geoffrey Bray (pictured) has been in the industry for almost 50 years. As a Fleet News Hall of Fame inductee, he is widely recognised for his achievements.
His former business, Fleet Support Group, grew to become the largest privately-owned driver and vehicle management company in the UK before being sold to ARI in December 2011.
Son Marcus Bray has spent his working life in fleet, with 35 years of experience. He, too, worked for Fleet Support Group and stayed until a year later when he left to set up Fleet Service GB.
A number of Bray’s Fleet Support Group clients decided to follow him to his new venture. In the past five years, the business has welcomed back 30 of the fleets he previously worked with.
Among the high-profile names that joined from the outset were Autoglass and Stannah, enabling the business to ‘go live’ in 2015 with more than 1,000 vehicles.
Marcus Bray says: “Our USP as a company is we listen to the customer, we understand what they want and what we want to do is deliver for them.”
The fleet management provider’s aim is always to manage and reduce fleet operating costs, but it says to do this, it – and its employees – must completely understand its clients, their businesses and requirements.
It does this through a combination of personal relationships, a detailed knowledge of the fleet industry and technology.
The company’s efforts were recognised earlier this year at the Fleet News Awards, where it picked up the Best Customer Service award.
Fleet Service GB does not use traditional matrices to monitor customer satisfaction. Instead it has in-depth relationships at both senior management and employee levels.
It believes that without those relationships and the ability to analyse and exchange ideas, a business has no knowledge as to whether it is successful and delivering on the aims and objectives of clients.
“With fleet management it’s your vehicles, your money and your drivers. If we don’t look after them as per your expectations, you’re going to sling us out. We don’t lock any clients in with contracts. They can leave us with 24 hours’ notice,” Bray says.
The company develops its own software in-house and the system enables it to integrate with any customer or third party.
Bray says: “What we’re doing, it’s not new. None of our service propositions are new, but the technology and platform to deliver it is better. The current platform is fully integrated and is extremely cost-effective.”
As a co-ownership company, the senior management team are all shareholders and all staff have the opportunity to acquire shares to give them a stake in the organisation.
As a result of this ‘individual ownership’, Bray says employees take responsibility and have a deeper commitment to deliver what customers require.
The company provides a 24/7 service support via a single telephone number and promises to answer every call within 20 seconds with a human response – there is no automated answering technology. As a result, Fleet Service GB has achieved 100% customer retention.
Fleet management services come in a variety of different shapes and sizes from various sectors in the market, including leasing companies.
Bray believes that many of these services fall short of expectations because they are too heavily focused on costs. Instead, he thinks it’s paramount that the driver is at the centre of any fleet management solution.
“We don’t outsource anything. We let the driver decide where they want to go. If they have a puncture and they are outside Kwik Fit, then they can go there.
“It’s all about service to the driver. Sending him to the other side of town to get a puncture repair is going to end up costing you more and defeats the point,” Bray explains.
He says leasing companies can be inflexible because they often rely on outsourced suppliers to provide services, meaning a driver can only go to a specific tyre outlet for example.
Drivers should also be the focus when a fleet is looking to cut costs, which is why Fleet Service GB launched its Achieve Driver Programme.
Bray says: “I believe the future of the fleet management industry is the driver. If you manage the driver, you will manage your costs in one direction – and that’s down. If you do that, you’ll also achieve your compliance.
“Some fleet operators are stuck in their ways, but you absolutely have to manage the driver. Servicing a car is easy and so is replacing the bumper, but you have to question why you are changing the bumper. If you want to spend money letting your drivers do whatever they want, we aren’t the right partner for you.”
Using its software package, Fleet Service GB is able to collate data from across an organisation and generate a Live Driver Score.
The score allows drivers to achieve up to 48 points, based on initial risk assessments, licence checks and training needs.
Points are deducted when drivers do something wrong, such as have an accident or get points on their licence. But the system can also identify other factors, such as not replacing a tyre until it is illegal or getting minor parking dings – factors that, Bray says, add risk.
If the driver’s score drops below 30% of the company average, an alert is sent to their manager. The driver can regain points through attending training or improving their telematics score.
One of Fleet Service GB’s clients, VPS, saved £365,000 in one year using the programme, which required an investment of just £18,000.
“It’s a continuous performance management programme,” says Bray. “Every day it tells a story. If the company wants to save money, it’s a no-brainer.”
While the fleet industry appears to be constantly evolving and changing, Bray says, in reality, nothing has changed: “It is all about getting a vehicle from A to B at the lowest possible cost with the maximum compliance.
“Nobody like spending money on maintenance, nobody likes having accidents and everybody wants to be safe. Our remit is to work with the customer to help them achieve those objectives.”
Fleet Service GB takes the time to understand how your fleet works and what it needs – everything the company does reflects that. It works in an open and transparent way to build a partner relationship, not simply a client relationship.