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Free2Move Lease centralises services to tap into mobility market

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Free2Move Lease has brought its leasing, car sharing, rental and telematics offerings together in a central department, made up of more than 50 employees, as it looks to tap into the mobility market.

“We want to be able to offer mobility to all customers wherever they are,” said Alison Jones, group managing director of Peugeot, Citroën and DS in the UK for PSA Group, which owns Free2Move Lease. “That’s a key emerging area to be able to do that. They are complementary services for customers; quite often with car share you need telematics in those vehicles to be able to track where they are – so it makes it more effective to put them into one team.”

Fleet customers have long benefited from telematics as standard in Citroën vans but the offering has since been widened with the launch of Free2Move Lease’s Connect Fleet product in 2018.

This means data – such as maintenance alerts, fluid levels and speed – is taken direct from Peugeot, Citroën and DS vehicles, enabling a proactive approach to maintenance and mileage management.

Customers can also choose to have a telematics box fitted to non-PSA vehicles.

Three packages are available: fleet management (vehicle tracking, fuel consumption, mechanical alerts in real time, and service and maintenance alerts), eco driving (this adds driving behaviour analysis and customised eco-driving advice to the driver) or geolocation (this adds  real time geolocation, itinerary and route tracking and analysis, and customisable geofencing alerts).

“We’ve widened the opportunity of what can be done because some people want different functionality,” Jones said. “We keep evolving to see what can be included and the new team will look at all areas of connected services.”

Jones is also learning which mobility options work in other countries where PSA operates. For instance, Free2Move has a car sharing service in Washington DC, which allows customers to rent a car from 30 minutes to seven days using an app. Cars are parked on the streets of Washington and can be returned within the ‘home’ area for the next user.

“The UK is on the list as one of the countries that would introduce it but we would take the learning from what they’re doing in the other markets and how you get the business model to work for customers then us as a business,” Jones said.

Citroen’s electric city car, Ami, which is being offered in Europe on a long-term rental costing £17 per month with a £2,186 deposit or via car sharing at a cost of 21p per minute (see Fleetnews.co.uk, February 28), could also provide valuable learnings. Jones said that PSA has not committed to Ami coming to the UK but it “depends what customers want”.

“You have to test these things in different places and see,” she said.

Contract hire for Vauxhall set to grow business

Free2Move Lease’s growth in the short-term is set to come from Vauxhall, after it became the in-house provider of business contract hire for Vauxhall and its retailer network last year.

Vauxhall previously white labelled ALD Automotive’s finance products to offer to fleet customers, although there was period of about two years between the agreement with ALD ending and Free2Move Lease beginning. 

The move is set to double the size of the business over a three-year cycle, but this does not take into account any impact the coronavirus lockdown may have on sales.

Free2Move Lease is offering customers contract extensions, payment holidays where needed, and helping to ensure critical vehicles keep moving during the lockdown.

No immediate plans to integrate fleet teams

Vauxhall continues to operate as a separate fleet team, despite PSA’s acquisition of the brand in 2017 and the Peugeot, Citroen while saw DS fleet teams integrated under fleet director Martin Gurney.

“We keep our brands quite separate, as do any many others who have many brands,” Jones said.

However, on the dealership side, network development and aftersales have been integrated for efficiency and to benefit investors, since Jones was appointed in February last year.

The cultural changes which Jones has made, along with her leadership skills, were recently recognised with her being named the Barbara Cox ‘Woman of the Year’

Delivering results

Jones favours an inclusive leadership style and believes that teamwork and collaboration deliver results.

“To deliver results you need groups of people with the skillset or the aptitude or the downright determination to deliver,” she said.  

“Seeking out people who have got the skills or the expertise or the enthusiasm to do it is a really important part and that's what I've done.

“I have no interest in working my way through a hierarchy to speak to any of my team members. I will go and ask the expert.  

“It's faster and you get to know people and you get to know different things – issues that maybe you weren't aware of, competitive advantage, opportunities.”

Jones asks colleagues who have expertise in a particular subject matter to come into the boardroom and discuss it with the board and make recommendations.

That allows the board to “operate in a really efficient way”.

“You can ask questions and the person knows the answer,” she said. “But it’s also about giving colleagues the opportunity to have those discussions and get involved in things at a senior level and drive positive change as a result.”

Jones has learnt during her automotive career (including 21 years at the Volkswagen Group, latterly as managing director of Volkswagen Passenger Cars) that “you can deliver a result when you have no clue how you’re going to do it”.

“You will, with confidence, be able to find a way through it,” she said.

Having a diverse workforce, including at board level, can help businesses to achieve results but “you need to make sure that anybody who gets any role is competent and is not chosen as part of a quota”.

“I’m a strong advocate of that – it’s about making sure you seek out really good talent, whoever they are, and giving people an opportunity to develop and grow,” Jones said.

Giving back

Beyond her day-to-day role, Jones is a coach and mentor, with up to four mentees at any one time (both inside and outside PSA), and supportive of charitable work such as the committee set up within PSA to raise awareness and funds for The Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM), which focuses on getting men to talk about their mental health and reducing suicide.

She is also vice president for the Institute of Customer Service, representing the automotive sector. It is a position she has held for the past seven years and she believes it is beneficial to her personally, the PSA Group and the industry as the Institute’s CSI index provides valuable insight on how the automotive sector compares to other industries.

“Our customers don’t park their experience when they come out of a retail store and into an automotive dealership,” Jones said. “It’s about how easy are you to do business with? How frictionless is the service?

“We can learn practical things from what other businesses are doing to drive us an automotive industry.”

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