Keith Allen: Delivering ‘Rolls Royce’ Service to the UK Fleet

Keith Allen

Managing Director, ARI UK

Kei­th, ARI entered the UK mar­ket at the begin­ning of 2012 as one of the world’s lead­ing fleet man­age­ment ser­vice providers. Why was the UK mar­ket impor­tant to ARI?

There are a num­ber of rea­sons ARI decid­ed to focus on the UK. First­ly, we already had glob­al spe­cial­ists oper­at­ing in main­land Europe for our multi­na­tion­al clients, whose needs were get­ting greater and greater. ARI saw the oppor­tu­ni­ty to estab­lish a plat­form in the UK to meet these needs. Sec­ond­ly, we see the UK as the major fleet mar­ket in Europe. The mar­ket is cur­rent­ly very mature and we expect that it will con­tin­ue to change over the next few years. It is main­ly dri­ven by leas­ing com­pa­nies in terms of con­tract hire, closed end leas­ing and it is more focused on cars than vans and trucks so slight­ly dif­fer­ent than the US mar­ket.

As well as a renewed need for trans­paren­cy in the UK mar­ket, busi­ness­es are look­ing to unbun­dle their ser­vices. The larg­er cor­po­ra­tions espe­cial­ly are ask­ing them­selves if they need every sin­gle fleet ser­vice or just a core selec­tion. It is no longer sim­ply about total out­sourc­ing and fund­ing, ARI saw the oppor­tu­ni­ty to use the Amer­i­can mod­el here.

They are look­ing at a com­plete range of fleet man­age­ment solu­tions with main­te­nance man­age­ment and acci­dent man­age­ment ser­vices being our core prod­ucts cur­rent­ly. They are look­ing to have a cor­ral of vehi­cles and are inves­ti­gat­ing how to remar­ket them. 

The old adage of out­sourc­ing and only using one sup­pli­er is not going to be the way for­ward now. Because of this, there are more pro­cure­ment peo­ple get­ting involved in the details. Over the years, espe­cial­ly in the last five, the fre­quen­cy of pro­cure­ment teams com­ing in and want­i­ng to know exact­ly how a con­tract quote is made up, the inter­est mar­gin, and what they are pay­ing on main­te­nance has increased tremen­dous­ly.

What are some of the things that you do here in Chip­pen­ham to sup­port your clients?

Since ARI acquired the busi­ness it was decid­ed that a renewed focus on client sup­port and rela­tion­ships was required.  Over the last twelve months we have estab­lished a rock-sol­id client rela­tions and account man­age­ment sup­port frame­work, which adds val­ue for our clients because we can be more strate­gic and act as a real busi­ness part­ner.

As a fleet man­age­ment com­pa­ny, we place an empha­sis on becom­ing part of each customer’s busi­ness because we are respon­si­ble for spend­ing their mon­ey. If we are going to spend wise­ly and prop­er­ly, we need to under­stand the strat­e­gy of each com­pa­ny and under­stand exact­ly what their fleet require­ments are. Our account man­age­ment team does a fan­tas­tic job of get­ting under the skin of our clients’ needs, advis­ing on the best meth­ods of fleet man­age­ment and ulti­mate­ly low­er­ing TCO.

A new client of ours has told us that their pre­vi­ous fleet sup­pli­er hadn’t seen them in the last 12 months. Since begin­ning our rela­tion­ship with them, they have been impressed by our atten­tion to detail dur­ing the imple­men­ta­tion phase and the input from our account man­age­ment team. The added val­ue of man­ag­ing the account prop­er­ly and being a part of our cus­tomers’ busi­ness­es is one of our major dif­fer­en­tia­tors.

Con­grat­u­la­tions on win­ning the Van Fleet Award for your extra­or­di­nary tech­nol­o­gy. Let’s talk about the glob­al report­ing capa­bil­i­ties.

What attract­ed me to ARI was not only the brand and the peo­ple, but the tech­nol­o­gy, espe­cial­ly in terms of busi­ness report­ing, man­age­ment report­ing to clients and busi­ness intel­li­gence. ARI Insights and Ana­lyt­ics are the prod­ucts and tools we use to help busi­ness­es gain access to the infor­ma­tion they need either via a ‘self-ser­vice’ method or with input from our account man­age­ment teams. This tech­nol­o­gy is push­ing the mar­ket for­ward in the UK. We take data from any source; telem­at­ics data, fuel data, main­te­nance data, whether it is sourced from with­in the com­pa­ny or exter­nal­ly,  in order to give the client exact­ly what they need in terms of dri­ver pro­fil­ing infor­ma­tion, spend by type of vehi­cle or effi­cien­cy of vehi­cles, for exam­ple.

We use HANA tech­nol­o­gy from SAP and the speed at which com­pa­nies can actu­al­ly ana­lyze their data and get busi­ness intel­li­gence this way is great­ly ahead of the com­pe­ti­tion. This is also a major dif­fer­en­tia­tor, because the cus­tomer can touch it, see it and put it to good use with­in their busi­ness, quick­ly.  Com­pil­ing infor­ma­tion from dif­fer­ent sources can then be used to give us an accu­rate over­sight of the fleet and a sum­ma­ry of dri­ver behav­ior, all help­ing us to be strate­gic in advis­ing on effi­cien­cy, cost sav­ings and gen­er­al fleet tac­tics. We pri­or­i­tize invest­ment in tech­nol­o­gy in the UK, but because of our glob­al group con­nec­tions, we can also lever­age the invest­ments and tech­no­log­i­cal advances made by ARI in the US.

How does ARI UK work?

The UK mar­ket is dif­fer­ent to the US in the respect that cur­rent­ly most of the vehi­cles in the UK were fund­ed through con­tract hire with main­te­nance ser­vices. All of the ser­vices are grouped togeth­er into a sin­gle rental fig­ure. Yes, clients are becom­ing more aware of how to break that rental down, but even then it is not bro­ken down to what I’d call ‘total trans­paren­cy’.

As a fleet man­age­ment com­pa­ny, we are respon­si­ble for spend­ing our clients’ mon­ey, so we need to be able to show our clients an audit trail. Through ARI Ana­lyt­ics and Insights, busi­ness­es can see what we are pay­ing each sup­pli­er. There is no short pay, no hid­den rebates: we will be total­ly trans­par­ent. We will take an ARI fee or trans­ac­tion charge but that is also trans­par­ent. By being trans­par­ent, every­one is well aware of where they sit. If we are deliv­er­ing sav­ings, those can be mea­sured. Our clients see the ben­e­fit of pay­ing fees because they see the true under­ly­ing cost of run­ning their fleet as opposed to just a rental. 

It had to be eye-open­ing to you and the fleets you approached.

ARI is a new name in the UK mar­ket and we only rebrand­ed the com­pa­ny last Octo­ber. We have had some large oppor­tu­ni­ties come through these doors this year, and I think they went away with their expec­ta­tions raised a lit­tle high­er because they saw our tech­no­log­i­cal capa­bil­i­ties. The great thing is that most of our tech­nol­o­gy was rolled out in the States, so it is lead­ing edge here in the UK but we have sig­nif­i­cant expe­ri­ence using it in the US. 

We will be shar­ing this tech­nol­o­gy with our UK clients in ear­ly 2014. We have had a num­ber of large client wins in the last few months on the back of what they saw dur­ing their vis­its. They fed back to us and said the man­age­ment reports were the dif­fer­en­tia­tor and were hap­py to pay a pre­mi­um for the advanced offer­ing. As one client said, he was hap­py to pay for ‘the Rolls Royce ser­vice’.

You talked about estab­lish­ing a pres­ence and then mar­ket­ing the exist­ing con­cept. What about your exist­ing clients? How have you inte­grat­ed the sys­tems and the process­es?

We are still in the very ear­ly days of intro­duc­ing these tech­nolo­gies to our UK client base. As with any acqui­si­tion real­ly, the first pri­or­i­ty for ARI was cor­po­rate cul­ture and cre­at­ing a real­ly strong sys­tem for inter­nal com­mu­ni­ca­tion. We want­ed employ­ees to real­ly feel that the busi­ness was improv­ing and we put a sys­tem in place to sup­port staff devel­op­ment. At ARI, we have ‘PIE’, Part­ners in Excel­lence, which is about devel­op­ing our staff in terms of qual­i­ty man­age­ment, per­son­al objec­tives and how they inter­re­late with each oth­er. It is our inter­nal ver­sion of ISO9001, but a lot more fun! It is also linked to reward pro­grams. It is not about tick­ing a box; it is about real­ly embrac­ing the staff and embed­ding the busi­ness objec­tives and our val­ues. That was prob­a­bly one of the major tasks ini­tial­ly, and then the next pri­or­i­ty was cre­at­ing our suc­cess­ful account man­age­ment team. With a sol­id foun­da­tion, we can now begin rolling out the tech­nol­o­gy.

What are the mar­ket needs that are com­mon to any fleet man­ag­er in North Amer­i­ca, UK or any­where in the world?

All man­agers, regard­less of geog­ra­phy, want to run an effi­cient fleet, and you achieve that the same way in the US and in the UK: by under­stand­ing that fleet’s needs. How many vehi­cles do they need, what types of vehi­cles, are those vehi­cles fit for pur­pose, what sort of pol­i­cy advice is nec­es­sary? These ques­tions are the same across the board.

While spe­cif­ic pol­i­cy advice can dif­fer coun­ty to coun­try, the ser­vice itself is a com­mon denom­i­na­tor. In the UK, the slight dif­fer­ence is that our mar­ket is dri­ven by CO2 emis­sions from a fis­cal and tax­a­tion per­spec­tive. So, a lot of our fleet pol­i­cy advice is around this. 

Anoth­er com­mon require­ment is the use of tech­nol­o­gy to dri­ve effi­cien­cy. Both mar­kets need that tech­nol­o­gy to be effi­cient. Cus­tomer ser­vice is the same. With­out a shad­ow of a doubt, clients, whether in the US, the UK or North­ern Europe, demand high ser­vice lev­els and they expect them as stan­dard.

At the end of the day, tak­ing a car to the garage is pret­ty sim­i­lar wher­ev­er you are. The nuances are how you actu­al­ly pay for that or how you price it.

BIO

Kei­th Allen joined ARI Fleet UK as Man­ag­ing Direc­tor in late 2012. For­mer­ly Fleet Sup­port Group, ARI acquired the UK fleet man­age­ment com­pa­ny in 2011. Pre­vi­ous­ly, Allen was Man­ag­ing Direc­tor of ALD UK, a posi­tion he held for 13 years.  Allen cur­rent­ly serves as the Chair­man of the BVRLA’s Leas­ing and Fleet Man­age­ment Com­mit­tee.

 

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