Customer confusion and a desire to digitally transform the business were behind Zenith Leasedrive Group’s decision to rebrand as Zenith. The independent leasing and fleet management company had been trading as two separate brands, Zenith and Leasedrive, since HG Capital acquired both businesses in 2014.
It was quick to merge back office functions to drive efficiencies, moving all non-customer facing roles, such as accounts and vehicle disposal, to its Leeds office. However, the customer service and account management teams remained unchanged and continued to run under the two brands.
Any customer re-tendering was handled by the incumbent brand, while Zenith’s new consultancy team decided on the most appropriate business to go for new tender opportunities.
But, as Zenith’s chief executive officer, Tim Buchan, explains: “Transacting as two brands was causing confusion and working against our desire to have a fully-integrated framework.
“The decision to become one company, with one brand, delivers a material benefit for us as a business, as well as building confidence in our future strategy with our customers.”
Customer satisfaction has always been central to the success of Zenith and Leasedrive, with both putting great emphasis on their ability to react quickly to fleet needs.
It saw Zenith win the customer service award at last year’s Fleet News Awards – a year after Leasedrive achieved success in the same category.
And, according to Buchan, that same customer-centric approach will take centre stage as the newly merged business embarks on a digital transformation.
It has recognised that consistency in its approach to customers will be key and has developed a service platform called Accelerate, which will interrogate every single transaction that comes into the business.
“It’s been very important for us to understand, when we have three offices, how to approach our customers in a consistent way,” says Buchan. “Accelerate allows us to do this.”
Fleet News: How is technology helping you engage with employees?
Tim Buchan: We recognise in today’s service model the individual person that delivers that service makes all of the difference.
The job of our service teams has changed significantly and a lot of the process we do within the company, which is handled by Accelerate, shows us the job today isn’t so much about managing the asset, it’s more around managing the policy and the employees of our corporate customers.
In order to deliver that, and to communicate that to our employees, we’ve now got a new web platform for our intranet which brings the company together.
FN: Does the new platform help reinforce that new single identity?
TB: Yes, it absolutely does and it reinforces the fact that this is a company that’s reinvesting heavily in its sector.
We need employees residing in here all the time, because that’s the way they learn about what’s happening to our company, what’s changing and what’s in the news.
FN: As well as your new intranet and processing platform, you’ve also launched a new website as part of your digital strategy. How important was the rebrand to their success?
TB: The digital transformation we’re going through is very difficult under multiple brands. You need to have one single destination brand and everything follows off the back of that. We chose the Zenith brand, which was a larger brand than the Leasedrive brand, not in terms of its performance – both companies were high performing companies – but in terms of the destination brand. Zenith was the stronger.
FN: How will you manage the loss of the Leasedrive brand when it is so familiar to fleets, especially within the public sector?
TB: We have explained to our customers that we’ve invested heavily and we wish to be judged on the value of what we’re delivering in technology and our new platforms, rather than the name above the door.
Ian Hughes: In fact, customers have been more interested in seeking clarity around our strategic direction. We have done a number of surveys and we have conducted a number of interviews with them directly to ensure they are part of this journey. That’s where our customer-centric strategy was born; they’ve always been the major consideration in everything we’ve done.
FN: Your three offices in Leeds, Solihull and Birmingham will provide a regional service offering, why is that important?
TB: The most important thing is to make sure that, as an organisation, you have no barriers to dealing with you and sometimes geographic location can be a barrier. It shouldn’t be, in today’s world, but it can be.
FN: Will each office have a particular focus outside of that regional offering?
TB: The centre of excellence for LCVs is in Leeds; the centre of excellence for white labels is in Solihull; and the centre of excellence for rental is in Crowthorne. But all three sites are centres of excellence for customer services on the core competencies of contract hire, salary sacrifice and fleet management.
Rather than spending time changing the structure of our offices, we’ve invested all of our time in launching new digital platforms to retool people, to add more value. That’s where the value is coming to the customer in terms of this integration; the ability as a combined company to invest more in technology.
FN: How much have you invested in your digital strategy to help drive your new branding?
TB: It’s a multi-million pound investment that will also include moving all of our services into the cloud which will be what is required to service all of our driver population in the future.
Zenith is also developing a European data portal, which is currently being piloted by one of its customers. It will allow a fleet manager to look at all of their vehicles, irrespective of location and agnostic of supplier. And, to enable it to support its pan-European customers, Zenith has developed a network of suppliers with a similar ethos that covers 11 European countries.
Buchan says: “We believe that we are a true contender to providing a pan-European solution through best-in-class independence in each market.”
At the same time, it is also developing a new digital platform called the Total Mobility Gateway to ensure it has the size and scale for future transactions.
Buchan continues: “Our strategy is to look towards 2020 and ensure Zenith remains relevant for company car, salary sacrifice and any other services that may be appropriate. We’ve completed the integration, we’ve made all of the structural changes to the teams within our organisation and we’ve introduced a platform to bring all our employees together.”