Fleet News

Fleet services: Sharing technology is key to leasing growth

THERE is a mission statement on the website of leasing firm Tuskerdirect – ‘because time is money’ – that embodies the benefits the company believes it can offer customers and other fleet suppliers in the next few years.

Since its launch in 2000, Tuskerdirect has grown to a fleet of 3,000 vehicles and was listed in 45th place in last year’s FN50, the Fleet News analysis of the 50 largest leasing companies in the UK.

Despite being one of the smallest companies in the list, its investment in technology has made it one of the most advanced suppliers on the market, able to deliver an advanced online fleet management system to fleets that puts many larger competitors to shame.

Fleet managers can use Tuskerdirect systems to give employees access to an online vehicle choice list, which limits the vehicles they can see to the employer’s set criteria for that particular employee.

Staff can view a wide range of information on the vehicles they are allowed before making a choice. Fleet managers can view and approve orders, view the delivery process and monitor vehicles currently on the fleet for issues such as models due for replacement.

The venture capital company that supported the launch of Tuskerdirect, Smedvig Capital, is so confident of the systems supporting the firm that it now says it is looking for new acquisitions or mergers among companies that would also benefit from its hi-tech systems.

In the same way that customers can save time and money by using its electronic systems, the senior executives behind Tuskerdirect believe leasing companies can jump years ahead of the competition by teaming up with them.

Mark Summerhayes, managing director of Smedvig Capital, said: ‘The business can be grown with very little change in headcount, because the back office systems have produced an excellent engine for growth. There is a fantastic opportunity to do more deals where leasing companies can come on board to make use of the service and support available through our systems.

‘A lot of smaller leasing or fleet management firms could be brought into the satellite model and keep their autonomy, but benefit from the excellent systems and access to the expertise of the management team.

‘A lot of companies are asking how they are going to invest in the next generation of systems to keep up with their rivals.

‘We are offering them a way to benefit from systems that already lead the market.’

The firm has already introduced a successful expansion of its technology into a recent acquisition.

In October this year, Tuskerdirect acquired the goodwill, assets and certain liabilities of Goodwood Fleet Management, since renamed Inspire Fleet Solutions, which was able to introduce the technology to improve levels of service and support to its own customer base.

The aim of the new business is to provide a range of highly personalised fleet services, supported by leading edge fleet technology.

The two companies run completely separately, but are able to share back office systems. Stuart Donnelly, head of fleet management at Inspire, said: ‘With the acquisition of Goodwood Fleet Management, the combined fleet size of the two companies increased by 100%, but there was no need to add cost, because the IT platform behind Tuskerdirect is so scaleable.

‘We could lock into these benefits and still keep our competitive service to customers, so they only saw benefits, rather than the usual upheaval of change.

‘Under new ownership, we have access to the latest electronic systems. On our own this would have taken a long time to introduce.’

Further benefits will soon be available with the launch in spring of the latest version of the Tuskerdirect electronic fleet management tool, Fleet Desk 3.

David Hosking, sales and marketing director for Tuskerdirect, said: ‘We are developing Fleet Desk 3, which is probably 12 months ahead of the market in terms of systems.We have always led the market and this latest update maintains that position.

Furthermore, we have specified the system to ensure that it will also give Inspire a white label system that is very much ahead of the market.’

The company is planning to spend 2005 continuing to integrate the back office systems of Inspire and launch a range of new services designed to help fleet managers keep a closer watch on their drivers on the road.

Hosking added: ‘We offer better service because our staff are not spending all their time providing people’s quotes or doing manual workarounds to make customers’ computer systems compatible with the leasing company’s.’

Smedvig Capital fact file

  • Smedvig Capital is a London-based private equity firm formed in early 1996, investing predominantly in UK companies
  • Over time, it has built expertise in a number of areas including information management and financial services
  • Smedvig Capital places great emphasis on the quality of the owners/managers of businesses to which it provides funding
  • Smedvig Capital has to date committed £160 million to 50 investments. Investment size ranges from £600,000 to £6 million
  • Over and above a strong management team, it targets businesses which exhibit strong fundamentals including growth sector, clear focus/understanding of customer needs in target market and sustainable/scaleable competitive advantage

    Technology in action – how Tuskerdirect’s services work

    Fleet management

    THE Fleetdesk home page offers a central management console, automatically displaying tasks that require action by the fleet manager, including quote requests from drivers that require approval or amendment, delivery management tasks, cars that are reaching the end of contract that may require replacing, reminders to renew manufacturers support terms that are about to expire.

    Fleet policy control

    FLEETDESK can be set-up to replicate a fleet’s policy. It allows the fleet manager to control the car selection process and determine the level of access available to the driver. It enables drivers to view, specify and select a new vehicle within the constraints of a firm’s fleet policy. It is impossible for a driver to choose a vehicle to which he/she is not entitled.

    Reports

    LIVE online information bespoke reports include driver information, contract details, vehicle information, P46 (car) report, P11D report, contract terminations, manufacturer support about to expire.

    Driver management

    ONLINE access to a fleet’s driver information, including name, cost centre, department, payroll number and driver band. Fleets can update driver details, manage driver related tasks, change cost centres, and communicate with drivers.

    Live quotes

    CHOOSE by body type, manufacturer, CO2 emissions and/or fuel type, a ratebook is instantly produced in ascending order based on pre-determined criteria and fleet policy, with side-by-side comparison. Where the fleet policy allows, drivers have access to technical specifications, standard equipment details, optional extras, colour and trim options and a personal BIK tax calculator, drawn from the full range of cars available in the UK. Drivers can view a summary of vehicle details before sending order to the fleet manager for authorisation

  • Leave a comment for your chance to win £20 of John Lewis vouchers.

    Every issue of Fleet News the editor picks his favourite comment from the past two weeks – get involved for your chance to appear in print and win!

    Login to comment

    Comments

    No comments have been made yet.

    Compare costs of your company cars

    Looking to acquire new vehicles? Check how much they'll cost to run with our Car Running Cost calculator.

    What is your BIK car tax liability?

    The Fleet News car tax calculator lets you work out tax costs for both employer and employee