Fleet News award has attracted positive feedback from Grosvenor’s clients and its prospective clients
Innovation has been a key theme for Grosvenor Leasing over the past 18 months. The company, which was named the Fleet News leasing company of the year up to 15,000 vehicles, has developed a number of digital offerings, including an online fleet management system and a new driver services app.
“IT is something we are investing heavily in,” says Shaun Barritt, group CEO of Grosvenor Leasing, which also includes fleet management provider Interactive Fleet Management (IFM). “This year we have taken on two new IT specialists to develop our online reporting capabilities and we’ve got a couple of guys who have a lot of experience in developing apps.
“We are starting off with basic functionality and very quickly our clients will see that develop.
“On our fleet management side, we also have an online system whereby whenever a client goes in to have their vehicle serviced, tyres or glass fitted, or hire a car etc, that is immediately automated through our system.
“As soon as that authorisation has been given, the system will automatically send out to those operators a questionnaire on service.
“It’s all very well launching new initiatives, but alongside that you need to provide the ability for clients to feed back what they think.
“Sometimes it’s easy to go headlong into developing products, but they may not be what people want.”
Barritt says the fact the systems are created in-house gives Grosvenor the ability to develop them quickly, as well as adapt them for specific customer requirements.
“For example, if you’ve got an organisation that operates a pool of vans used by numerous different drivers, instead of just reporting on the vehicles, we can tailor the system to actually look at the drivers and see the vehicles they’ve used,” he says.
“This will allow you to see if that driver is an abusive one as you can drill down into the information to find out what they are all about. It gives you a little bit more information rather than that simplistic view.”
Barritt adds: “The beauty of it is that we can make amends and as it’s our system, we don’t charge it out to our clients, they don’t need a licence.
“We are not a software house, we are creating support for our fleet management operations.”
Fleet News: Your risk fleet has grown by 217 vehicles to 8,282 in the past 12 months. Does this reflect wider market conditions?
Shaun Barritt: We’ve had a good year, but new business has been quite difficult and I think that is the same for all of us in the industry. The growth in our fleet hasn’t been huge and that’s probably the nature of us as a business. We are not looking for numbers, we are looking for good, sustainable business.
FN: Have you noticed a change in vehicle residual values?
SB: We’ve found that good quality used vehicles are still making strong money at auction. We are converting probably 95%-plus of all of our vehicles first time at almost 100% of CAP value. That says the used market is strong and there are people out there wanting to buy. But we are seeing that it is maybe getting a little bit tougher, but not hugely. I think it will get more difficult, but the reality is the used market has a finite size and, at the end of the day, we can’t keep ploughing millions of vehicles into it, it can only sustain so much.
Next year is going to be interesting and I think values may start shifting downwards, not dramatically but that, again, is cyclical. From 2008 we’ve had a cycle where the fleet industry generally has done very well, so therefore we are just going to see this natural falling away a little bit. I think we need to be cautious about residual values and the sort of business that we are writing: we need that two-year business at least.
FN: How do you cater for the SME market?
SB: This year we launched our Easi-Fleet Management product which offers a fixed cost fleet management service for smaller fleets of cars and vans. We have to be competitive, we understand that, but we have to be a little bit different in the sector and have a more holistic offering.
A lot of people are now talking about the SME market which is a bit bizarre as it’s always been there. As a medium-sized contract hire and fleet management company, most of our business has been from the SME sector anyway. We don’t have any one client that has any more than 8% of our total fleet so, logically, our market is the SME market.
We want to offer a little bit more so we are increasing our offering. At the moment we are putting in a new online vehicle selection quoting system to make us a little more user-friendly for our clients who require that, although most of our clients tend to talk to us about rates rather than just doing it online.
FN: What value does Interactive Fleet Management add to the Grosvenor Leasing business?
SB: The reality is IFM is there to assist us in growing the fleet without always taking the risk element as well, so it opens the business out to a broader and wider market. IFM provides us with the ability to offer clients bespoke packages. It offers customers an outsourced fleet management team to oversee all suppliers – including ourselves. It also means clients don’t need to contract hire, they can own their vehicles, and we will manage their fleet for them.
If you are looking at a prospect which outright purchased, without IFM the best we could do as a contract hire company was to convert them to contract hire. The reality is not everybody wants to do that, so IFM means we can go out there, we can talk to these owned fleets and manage them.
On other occasions we can go out to potential clients who use multiple funding providers and are happy with that, or they have incumbent providers who they are not unhappy with, and we can bring in those funders who they currently use and put them on the same platform. This means that everything is always the same. One of the problems with getting quotations on contract hire is whether you are comparing apples to apples. Have they got the same end-of-hire damage waiver? Are all of the other things the same?
Effectively, what IFM is doing is saying ‘if that’s the way you operate your fleet, that’s fine, we can accommodate that because we have a multi-bid panel we work with’. We, Grosvenor, don’t sit on most of those panels. We will only sit on those if requested or if it’s a Grosvenor client.
As well as winning the Fleet News award, Grosvenor was also this year named in the Sunday Times Top Track 250, which ranks Britain’s private mid-market growth companies with the biggest sales, for the first time. It achieved 196th place.
Barritt says recognition from independent bodies has helped bolster the reputation of the company.
“I was probably a sceptic of these things, but the Fleet News award in particular has attracted a lot of positive feedback from clients and prospective clients,” he says.
“Has it won us any business? I’ve no idea, but the reality is it is something a bit different, it’s another bit of positive added value, so who knows?
“Maybe some of the wins we’ve had this year have been around the award, so I think it’s been very positive.”
He adds: “We are a medium-sized player operating in a big player’s market, and this recognition helps people see us as a major player, a proper player.”
Grosvenor’s ability to offer a multi-bid contract hire solution through its sister business Interactive Fleet Management made it stand out. It has developed both a fleet management system and an app in-house, enabling it to meet customer requirements. The judges praised Grosvenor’s management of its sub-contractors and the long-term relationships it has developed, along with its “outstanding” customer testimonials.