One of the country’s biggest leasing companies has signalled its intent to grow market share in the small fleet sector after rebranding its offering.
LeasePlan Go replaces the established FleetLine division, a subsidiary of LeasePlan UK, while IT platforms have been updated and new product launches are promised for next year.
The company has also invested “significant sums” in new customer relationship management software and a new website which welcomes clients and prospects.
While the SME sector is viewed as a key opportunity for growth by a number of car manufacturers, leasing companies have been slower to react. Some, according to David Brennan, chief executive of LeasePlan UK, have “walked away from the SME market”.
“But the Government is highlighting it as a key sector for growth in the UK economy and we intend to make sure we’re there with a clear proposition,” he said.
However, while a rebranding exercise usually signals a struggling business, LeasePlan’s performance in the sector has been impressive. It has achieved “double digit” growth over the past two years.
The new name mirrors that of other small fleet divisions in Europe owned by its parent company.
The objective is to enhance its appeal further, explained Simon Carr, brand director of LeasePlan Go.
He said: “There’s a huge opportunity to grow in this mar- ket, but we needed a platform to allow us to grow and we believe rebranding to LeasePlan Go provides us with that platform.”
Carr said the new name enables it to get “closer” to the LeasePlan brand and all that it can offer.
“We can tap into the infrastructure that it uses to deliver services to the biggest fleets in the country and deliver it to some of the smallest fleets,” he said.
The new approach is not just about a rebrand, it’s about investment as well and the development of IT systems has enabled LeasePlan to bring all its data into one place, allowing important analysis. FleetLine sat on a different IT platform at its Milton Keynes head office to the main, Slough-based, LeasePlan business.
“We can use this data to highlight to our customers things about their fleet they may not have known,” said Carr.
“It allows us to provide recommendations on a per driver basis rather than simply on a per fleet basis, which is a real step forward.”
In the past year, this use of data has helped LeasePlan Go forerunner FleetLine to save its customers £1.9 million.
LeasePlan UK was ranked as the second biggest leasing company in the country with a risk fleet of 130,200 vehicles, according to last year’s FN50 survey.
It has four brands to serve four sectors: LeasePlan looks after large corporates; Automotive Leasing caters for the public sector; intermediate brand Network is delivered through around 100 brokers; LeasePlan Go is aimed at companies operating anything from one to 100 vehicles.
Brennan said: “We are aiming for 10% market share through organic growth in all sectors as a minimum over the next five years and this includes LeasePlan Go.”
A number of leasing providers have withdrawn from the small fleet sector in recent years. GE Capital Fleet Services announced it was moving out in 2009 and would only be dealing with fleets in excess of 50 vehicles.
The company wanted to concentrate on larger UK corporate and pan-European accounts, although it has since softened this position and does retain some SME contracts.
Meanwhile, others have developed their small fleet offering believing that difficult trading conditions across the board requires them to have a presence in all sectors.
Certainly, the size of the market means that leasing companies can’t afford to dismiss it, with estimates suggesting that there are more than a million businesses in the sector, but due to the number of ‘one-man bands’ the real size of the opportunity is about 400,000.