The software company, which isn’t revealing the exact figures behind its profits, sells managing and reporting products including Fleet Outlook and Fleet Plus. It will target three key areas in 2005 to continue its recent successes, according to the firm’s new sales and marketing director.
Each area is particularly important to fleet operators, firstly covering products to help manage outsourcing, secondly software for operating employee car ownership schemes and finally programmes for running pan-European fleets.
Andy Leech is heading up the company, following the departure of Jason Francis, who has gone on to launch his own fleet software and risk management company, Jaama.
Leech said: ‘I have a background in selling fleet products and I believe these three core areas are important.
‘Europe is important because currently, there is nothing out there for effectively managing pan-European fleets. We are helped by the fact we have experience of dealing with clients in 40 different countries.
‘The software for companies outsourcing their fleets will do things such as ensure companies are being invoiced correctly, that they are meeting their duty of care requirements and creating a central home for accident management.
‘The package covering employee car ownership schemes will cover every aspect of a car ownership scheme from a legal point of view. This will include making sure vehicles are serviced regularly and ensuring drivers have basic requirements such as driving licences.
‘It also provides a set of escalation rules that can be followed when there are problems.’
This follows a move to provide a renewed focus on the basic essentials of operating fleets, while also continuing to support its greatly expanded range of services, which include software for rental companies and contract hire firms.
Leech said: ‘If you go back five years, cfc focused on core fleet management systems. The company diversified quickly as it started to recognise that there were different kinds of fleet managers.
‘We can now offer automated systems that can process a number of data inputs and also automatically carry out tasks, such as service reminders, licence checking and so on.’
Systems could potentially import data direct from telematics units in vehicles and immediately register factors such as mileage, excessive speed and harsh braking with the fleet manager.
What is currently holding up this dramatic development is the creation of common communication standards among telematics products, along with the high cost of fitting tracking systems to vehicles.
Leech said: ‘There is huge potential for this in the future and it is technically very feasible.’
He is backed by 67 staff, including a team of 47 technical experts, 11 of whom have been taken on recently, working for both cfc and parent company Pinewood Technology, which specialises in dealer management systems. Both firms are part of the giant Pendragon dealer group.
Leech joined cfc in 1999, taking on fleet sales in the south west until 2001 when he moved to major accounts and then sales manager, before taking up his new role of sales and marketing director towards the end of last year.
He added: ‘Fleet management software systems are becoming the hub of the way business travel operations are run, processing data and alerting fleet managers where necessary.’
What technical help is there?
CFC solutions’ product range consists of the following five packages:
New-generation products form part of five-year plan
FURTHER expansion into Europe, a push into public sector fleets and a range of new products are all components in a new five-year plan formulated by cfc solutions.
According to the firm, one in five UK company cars are now managed using its automated products. Sales early in 2005 were also 125% up on 2004, which itself was a record year.
Leech said: ‘Our five-year plan will see us release new-generation versions of our core products while also taking advantage of the growing European and public sector markets. We’ll also be producing software that takes us into new markets for the first time. We are only able to follow this multi-pronged strategy because of the size and depth of our research and development team, which is probably larger than the rest of the fleet software industry’s resources put together.’
Part of the five-year plan that is already making headway is cfc’s strategy of giving away its FleetOutlook software to fleets with fewer than 50 vehicles.
Leech explained: ‘For years, we have been working hard to convince the small fleet sector about how fleet software will benefit them but the market penetration remains relatively low.
‘By offering them a free version of FleetOutlook, we hope they will be tempted to try the product and come to recognise its benefits, and that word will subsequently spread. It’s all about making people who have never used this type of technology before comfortable with the product and increasing awareness.
‘We are trying to increase the overall market for fleet software, a trend from which we will clearly benefit. Already, we have given away more than 200 copies.’