WEX: Control Fuel Costs with Actionable Data

Bernie Kavanagh

Vice President of Corporate Payment Solutions, WEX Inc.

You tran­si­tioned from many years being known as Wright Express. How was that received? 

I think the rebrand­ing effort has been real­ly good for us as we advance our glob­al strat­e­gy. When you think of the word – Wright Express – a lot of folks thought of pack­age deliv­ery or a truck­ing com­pa­ny, so we want­ed to look at a dif­fer­ent name but not lose the iden­ti­ty of Wright Express. Many peo­ple called us WEX for years so we felt by chang­ing the name to WEX we still kept the iden­ti­ty of Wright Express but it was a name that would real­ly trans­fer bet­ter over­seas and in dif­fer­ent coun­tries as we con­tin­ued to expand. The new logo is a lit­tle bit more promi­nent and a lot of good mar­ket­ing efforts have been under­way. I think it has brought our name back to the front of the list­ing end. 

Let’s talk about the Fleet One acqui­si­tion and what that mar­ket and part­ner­ship are like for you.   

We have tak­en the oppor­tu­ni­ty for the last cou­ple of years to look at the “over the road” (OTR) mar­ket and ways to enter that mar­ket whether we expand our plat­form, part­ner with a com­pa­ny, or in this case with Fleet One, make an acqui­si­tion. A num­ber of our fleets are referred to as mixed fleets, which might have some light trucks and sedans and they also have some OTR trucks. Our pro­gram is pri­mar­i­ly for the lights and the sedans and we were always look­ing to add anoth­er piece of the OTR solu­tion. 

Our pro­gram runs much dif­fer­ent­ly than it would for a nor­mal uni­ver­sal card. The needs of the OTR mar­ket are dif­fer­ent, there are dif­fer­ent pric­ing schemes, and things that our cus­tomers need: cash advance, cost plus pric­ing, things of that sort. The acqui­si­tion of Fleet One pro­vides a pro­gram that is estab­lished, a net­work that is already in place, a lot of the con­trols that the fleets are look­ing for and ulti­mate­ly, the abil­i­ty to han­dle our mixed fleets with our one-card solu­tion. 

Let’s talk about alter­na­tive fuel. 

A num­ber of our cus­tomers are look­ing for dif­fer­ent ways to incor­po­rate alter­na­tive fuels into their busi­ness. The industry’s infra­struc­ture just isn’t where it needs to be at this point in time so we do what we can to help the mer­chants and steer the vehi­cles to where we know the accep­tance is. Our role is real­ly two-fold: One – to make sure we have the accep­tance so when a mer­chant does put in a Com­pressed Nat­ur­al Gas (CNG) site or a charg­ing sta­tion, the WEX Fleet Card is accept­ed there and we have the right prod­uct codes. Two – to make sure we can accu­rate­ly report the prod­uct codes.

We are a mem­ber of the PCATS Board. We work with them to estab­lish the prop­er prod­uct codes so that the report­ing can be con­sis­tent through­out that orga­ni­za­tion. The gov­ern­ment space has man­dates on alter­na­tive fuels and the amount of fuel they need to pur­chase. It doesn’t do gov­ern­ment fleets any good if they can’t report their data because the prod­uct codes are incor­rect.  

Today we have a num­ber of fuel­ing sta­tions in our net­work with all dif­fer­ent alter­na­tive fuels includ­ing Liq­ue­fied Nat­ur­al Gas (LNG) and CNG. There are also sev­er­al elec­tric charg­ing (EV) sta­tions that accept the WEX Fleet Card and we will con­tin­ue to devel­op that net­work and meet the needs of our cus­tomers. 

Is there any­thing that stands out with alter­na­tive fuels in terms of report­ing?  

Accu­ra­cy. What­ev­er mea­sure­ment that alter­na­tive fuel is going to be report­ed in, fleet man­agers need to know quan­ti­ty of mea­sure. Know­ing the loca­tions is also very impor­tant. If there is a charg­ing sta­tion that dri­vers have been using, they want to know how to return to it. Fleet man­agers are direct­ing their dri­vers based on activ­i­ty they have seen. They want to see time­ly report­ing, accu­rate report­ing and con­sol­i­dat­ed data that flows in and allows them to make bet­ter deci­sions on buy­ing vehi­cles. They are bas­ing their future vehi­cle pur­chas­es on the alter­na­tive fuel infra­struc­ture that is avail­able to them, so the loca­tions are very impor­tant.  

What role do you play in terms of report­ing?  

I think from a data strat­e­gy stand­point every­body is look­ing for more data. They want action­able data; they want data that is time­ly. They don’t want you to just send them the data. They want you to pack­age this togeth­er, inter­pret the data and then guide them into the deci­sions that they need to be mak­ing.

Look at fuel data aggre­ga­tion. You take the pieces of data that you get from telem­at­ics and you mar­ry the two of them togeth­er and you get some report­ing that is expo­nen­tial­ly greater. Now we are look­ing to expand on that even more to take more pieces of data that cus­tomers may be get­ting from a dif­fer­ent source. They may not even be get­ting all of the data they need now but when we pack­age the whole pic­ture togeth­er it is real­ly going to reveal some areas where they can look to con­trol costs, reduce their fuel­ing and bet­ter man­age their fleet.

It is not just sup­ply­ing fleet man­agers with the data. It is being able to take all of this data and real­ly inter­pret it and tell them what they don’t know. We try to find dif­fer­ent areas of poten­tial sav­ings and then pro­vide that back to our cus­tomers in a form they can take action on.  

You are doing a lot of busi­ness with gov­ern­ment fleets. What does your team do to assist these fleets?

Our gov­ern­ment busi­ness has real­ly tak­en off in the last cou­ple of years. We have a ded­i­cat­ed team both in sales and on the rela­tion­ship side. We also have an inside ded­i­cat­ed team on the cus­tomer sup­port side. There are a lot of nuances to the gov­ern­ment busi­ness. We have to have tax tables built. We have to under­stand the impor­tance of the data report­ing. There is a lot of report­ing that has to be sent up through­out the orga­ni­za­tion. I think that the gov­ern­ment line of busi­ness is one that needs to have focus. Again, we have a ded­i­cat­ed team that knows that busi­ness that gets involved in the indus­try. It has real­ly allowed us to grow that line of busi­ness both at the fed­er­al lev­el down to the state lev­el and then even down to the local lev­el.

We have put teams in place now that have increased the “pig­gy­backs” on cur­rent clients to secure state con­tracts. There are a lot of munic­i­pal­i­ties, cities and coun­ties that can ride that con­tract but they may not be aware of it. So, we have sales teams that are reach­ing out to those folks; it is real­ly just max­i­miz­ing the ben­e­fit. It is a ben­e­fit to all lev­els. It is a ben­e­fit to the state because it’s more eco­nom­ic involve­ment. It is a ben­e­fit to all of the munic­i­pal­i­ties who may not have been able to get a pro­gram that is as robust as it could be, so it just real­ly brings the econ­o­my to scale for them. It all comes from hav­ing a ded­i­cat­ed team that can do that and WEX has that team. 

BIO

Bernie joined WEX Inc. in 1996 as a Dis­trict Sales Man­ag­er and his career has been a steady pro­gres­sion of increased sales and mar­ket­ing respon­si­bil­i­ty between exist­ing and new seg­ments of the Fleet and Vir­tu­al Pay­ments busi­ness.  In 2008 Bernie was named Vice Pres­i­dent of Cor­po­rate Pay­ment Solu­tions.  In this role he is respon­si­ble for over­see­ing the reten­tion and growth of all mid- to large size cus­tomer rela­tion­ships in both the Fleet and Vir­tu­al Pay­ments lines of busi­ness.  He also has respon­si­bil­i­ty for the Part­ner rela­tion­ships, help­ing the Fleet Man­age­ment com­pa­nies grow their busi­ness and over­sees the acqui­si­tion and growth of the Gov­ern­ment line of busi­ness.  Pri­or to join­ing WEX, Bernie held a num­ber of roles with Enter­prise Rent-A-Car and Enter­prise Leas­ing.

bernie.kavanagh@wexinc.com

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