Fleet News

Technology leads 25 years of change

DURING the past 16 years, computer technology has enabled leasing group JCT600 Contracts to streamline its business and provide a better service to fleets.

Andrew Mann, the group’s managing director, has been involved in the leasing industry for the past quarter of a century.

He said: ‘Twenty five years ago a vehicle leasing company operating a fleet of 5,000 vehicles needed 65 full-time staff, an air conditioned computer room and four offices. The accounts team alone would have occupied the space JCT600 Contracts now operates from.’

Since JCT600 Contracts began in 1988, major changes have also had a bearing on the industry.

Mann said: ‘The fleet itself consisted of 80% of British-badged vehicles – Ford, British Leyland and Vauxhall, operated on predominantly two-year contracts with a significant percentage being on the now outmoded finance lease basis.

‘And any vehicle management information system was provided only to fleet management clients and took the form of a massive tabulation, produced monthly on A3 green and white continuous computer paper.’

JCT600 Contracts now operates a 5,000-strong fleet, managed by 31 staff.

Fleet managers now demand a lot more from leasing companies and as a result the market has become more competitive, leading to more options for fleets.

Mann, said: ‘With the increase in choice has come a need for information. It is no longer good enough to say ‘here’s your long-term rental vehicle, we’ll be back for it in three years’.

‘We need to encompass all that goes with operating a 21st century fleet, such as new tax discs and MOT reminders with P11D value reporting, parking and fines administration.

‘Plus up-to-the-minute things, which would include service reminders, service booking and personal tax status or liability.

‘Computerisation has enabled these facilities but, as with the old A3 sized monthly reports, there is a danger of information overload – which is where an attentive team applying thought comes in.’

Mann believes that, over the years, the leasing industry has split in terms of the types of management and services being offered.

He explained: ‘The business we operate in has become more fragmented, both in terms of the manufacturers and models we provide and the vehicle management and finance schemes we offer.

‘Contracts have extended to three and four years, with an increasing number of personal cash-for-car agreements to add to the core company car base. Vans have also become an important to our business.’

Looking to the future, leasing companies need stay ahead of their competitors – and if it means offering more services and management tools then fleets are the ones which are set to benefit.

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