Fleet News

Face-to-face: Saul Parsonson, Lombard

TOP-five leasing company Lombard is set to launch innovative new products in the next few years, including a ground-breaking hybrid lease allowing customers to pick and choose cars within a single lease contract.

The hybrid lease would allow drivers to lease a standard fleet car for their everyday use, then have a set number of days’ use of an alternative lifestyle vehicle.

The move is part of a substantial investment behind the scenes at the company, including development of new IT platforms, as it aims to grow its current customer base to a UK market leading position.

If successful, the scheme – dubbed Lifestyle Contracts – would combine a range of products including leasing, mini-lease and rental.

The product is just one sign of the ambitious plans of managing director Saul Parsonson who also wants to make the most of the company’s unique associations through its parent company, The Royal Bank of Scotland Group.

Sister companies include Churchill, Direct Line, Tracker and Green Flag, Nat West, Coutts and Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) itself.

Parsonson said: ‘We are a holistic motoring solutions provider and we are looking at maximising our share of the available vehicle-related spend with our customers.

‘That means for every pound spent on a car, we can find something in our group that can maximise that spend. For example, through insurance, financing and remarketing.’

This ranges from making the most of the company’s relationships with the 104,000 employees in the group as potential customers, to using the resources available to create new products for new customers.

Parsonson said: ‘Our agenda is the consultative sell.

‘We must have a whole focus on customer service rather than traditional framework. The vehicle and contract hire is merely the catalyst for other things.

‘Our view is that we are not limiting ourselves to just selling contract hire.

‘We are part of the fifth largest bank in the world and can use these resources to deliver real value for money and innovative solutions for our existing and prospective customers.’

But with this promise of wider service, there must also be the commitment to providing customers with the service they expect.

The business is investing in new IT systems to provide faster service and greater support for fleets and drivers, especially when it comes to fixing the cost of a lease and avoiding unexpected charges.

He said: ‘You should know that the lease cost you expect covers all potential charges. We want to remove the element of surprise from leasing and take a very transparent pricing approach. You need the system capability to do this and we will have that.

‘We want to be seen as advocates of caring for our clients because we are already very strong relationship managers.

‘So there will be lots of value- added support on areas such as duty of care matters. We feel this is part of getting to know the customer and getting better customer loyalty.

‘We have a strong track record of organic growth in the past few years. My view is that the top-end of the market will continue to consolidate. There will also be more players on the fringes of the FN50.’

Brokers, or leasing intermediaries, will also be essential, Parsonson believes, as it will help the company reach the smallest fleets cost effectively.

This will be primarily through the banking network, he points out, adding: ‘We have literally thousands of relationship managers in the RBS and NatWest banking network who will be helping us to provide leasing to the small fleet market.’

One thing is certain – if his dreams of providing customers with such transparent and comprehensive service become a reality, it will lead to a major shake-up in services from the rest of the leasing industry and potentially more changes in the top 50 leasing companies.

What this should mean to the skilled fleet manager is all-round better service at a competitive cost and with the back-up and advice available that helps fleets cope with the modern challenges of running company cars and vans.

Parsonson said: ‘Relationships are the bedrock of what we do. The bank has strong relationships with hundreds of thousands of business customers.

‘We intend to get much better at working with our colleagues to add value to the overall customer proposition.’

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