President & COO, The CEI Group
What are the biggest problems that fleet managers are facing right now with respect to collision, damage, risk –areas that CEI covers so well?
There are several things that are particularly challenging right now for our customers. The vehicle mix is number one. A lot of our fleets are using smaller and lighter vehicles that are suffering more damage in accidents than just a few years ago, when the most commonly used fleet vehicles were typically a little bit bigger. Second, there are more plastic, carbon fiber and exotic metal components that require replacement because they cannot be repaired. So the repair process has become much more complex. It really does take a specialist to understand that and to invest in the technology, expertise and training to manage the repair process well in our now more complex operating environment.
Is it absolutely essential that a fleet has to go outside for resources for managing their entire collision, damage and risk?
Yes, and we believe the need for specialized expertise has been recognized by our direct customers and our leasing partners. They reached the point where they understood that if you don’t specialize in accident management, and don’t handle $100 million in repairs a year, you can’t achieve the cost savings and efficiencies that companies like CEI do. Without that scale and focus, you cannot easily invest in the kind of technology we have to make sense of large amounts of data and communicate electronically with our repair network, nor can you effectively gain the necessary experience with such a wide variety of vehicles that gives you a leg up when you change your vehicle mix.
Safety is really key more than ever. What are the biggest challenges that you see for fleets with respect to safety?
One is data — there is so much more of it than there were just 5 or 10 years ago, when the cutting edge involved basic accident data and MVRs (motor vehicle reports). Today, a good rule of thumb in fleet liability is, “You should have known what you could have known” about your drivers. Beyond the traditional types of data, there is much more available today, like data from public driver complaint services, traffic cameras and safety policy violation data. It includes data that you can get from mobile devices and telematics data. All of this new technology generates new and fresh data that comes into play in establishing potential fleet liability and exposure. It’s not enough for fleets to say they didn’t have the data, or they had it but didn’t analyze it. To manage risk properly has become a much more complex task for our customers, but it’s absolutely vital for them to do it. And it’s about more than saving money – it’s about saving lives.
Behind the technology that CEI has developed and delivered, give us an overview of that and of the areas where you have enhanced technology.
We have gone down the path of enhancing our technology both in our accident management business and driver safety and fleet risk management business. On the accident management side, we’ve been creating new applications that make it easier to grab and see data from multiple data bases in one place at the same time. We’ve also focused on making it easier to make sense out of the data, to spot trends and make the data actionable with enhanced dashboard metric displays. A key to all of this is to make data formats and documentation easier to manipulate and control. We’ve just created an advanced document image management application in our ClaimsLink portal that we’re going to be rolling out to our customers in the near future.
Our driver safety product is DriverCare, which collects a number of different kinds of data, including accident history, Motor Vehicle Reports, traffic camera violations and others. The goal is to change driver behavior, and to significantly increase your chances of success, you have to share that data with all the stakeholders throughout the organization who drive change. That can be risk managers, fleet managers, HR, legal and each driver’s manager. DriverCare technology was recently enhanced to give those stakeholders one-click access to that data.
While technological advances are key to improving fleet safety, at CEI we recognize that corporate culture is just as important. For the technology to work, it has to take full advantage of each organization’s existing culture. You always want to push the envelope, to strive for better results, but if you are going to work against what you know is out there in your culture, you’re going to be less successful than if you work with it. So CEI’s focus it to help our customers tailor our technology to fit their culture instead of tailoring their culture to fit our technology, while helping them make the broad-based improvements they are looking for over time.
So driver behavior is really, really important to the extent that you have developed a DriverCare myDriverCenter. How does that work? What is that process? I am a fleet manager, how do I take advantage of it?
myDriverCenter is the name for the new driver’s home page in DriverCare. The theory behind it is that drivers are much more likely to change their behavior when you show them their driving history in a way that is very powerful yet easy to access and digest. For one thing, it demonstrates that they’re on the radar screen, that the organization is aware of and measuring their behavior, and reminds them that there are consequences for that behavior, both positive and negative. This is vital, because when employees know that they’re being monitored and measured against standards that are important to the organization and their future with that organization, the chances of positively influencing that behavior are greatly increased.
My Driver Center uses bold, intuitive graphics, similar to the kind you see on smart phones and tablet devices, to show every driver their driving history and what it means. It focuses on their risk rating, and how that compares to the every other driver in the fleet. By clicking on various icons and displays, drivers can also access all the details of their driving record. They also can see a quick summary of the fleet’s risk rating system, so they understand why they’ve been rated the way they have, and what kinds of behavior can change that rating.
DriverCare offers our customers the ability to give access to driver data on a selected basis, while protecting driver confidentiality. So selected management personnel can see what the driver sees, which is very important for securing managers’ participating in changing driver behavior and improving fleet safety.
So it is a way of not only informing the driver and making the driver aware of his or her behavior, but the company as well?
Do you provide reports? How do you communicate that back to the fleet? Do you have a dashboard?
We do have a dashboard for administrators and managers. Line managers can only see data regarding drivers who report to them. To make it easy to access to the data, both for managers and drivers, we now offer single-sign-on capabilities into DriverCare. What that means is that you can access DriverCare just by using your login information for your organization’s Intranet, instead of having to remember separate DriverCare log-in information. Once you’re logged on to your company’s Intranet, you can navigate seamlessly to DriverCare, with no additional user ID and passwords. So far, we have nine fleet customers who use this feature and are doing so with great success including increased compliance.
What might be typical profile of one of your clients?
Our customers are fleets and fleet management companies who recognize that accident management and fleet safety are not their core competencies and want the best solutions. They want a supplier who invests in the latest technology and is always staying ahead of the marketplace. But that must be combined with a high level of customer service, because when a call comes in from a driver who’s just had an accident, that’s the moment of truth. That’s why we provide true 24/7/365 coverage with calls answered by a specialist who is trained and experienced and capable of dealing immediately with their problems. You can have all the technology in the world, but if you cannot deliver at the moment of truth, you cannot succeed for your customer. So we focus on success through both people and technology.
Vincent Brigidi is president and chief operating officer of the CEI Group, Inc., a provider of fleet accident management, risk management and the driver safety solution, DriverCare, which has over 100,000 fleet drivers subscribed across North America. Vincent first joined CEI in 1994 and has been responsible for various departments throughout the organization. He now has overall responsibility for the commercial and operational functions, as well as the strategic direction of the organization including product development. A graduate of James Madison University, Vincent is a member of the National Association of Fleet Administrators and the American Fleet & Leasing Association.