What were your priorities when you joined Fleetcor?
Fleetcor UK has three customer facing brands: Allstar, Keyfuels and The Fuel Card Company. The key driver for me was to understand what do those brands stand for, what their customers need and want and how we support that.
What I saw when we came in was, within this continued economic downturn and the emergence of some competition, a demand from customers to control drivers and how they spend. This was a big learning for me; giving someone a fuel card really puts the control in their hands – they will fuel where is convenient for them. Of the research we did, 60% of drivers didn’t know how much they paid for fuel. If you’re managing a fleet you want to have greater control over that.
You recently launched a new payment platform, Global FleetNet, how does this benefit customers?
Allstar has been the UK market for a significant period of time, and for a long period only sold one product. What we’ve now got is segmentation and we will have three different product sets going forward.
One is an entry-level product set, a supermarket card which enables someone with a smaller business that is looking to get access to a fuel network but to manage costs very tightly as well. Allstar, the mid-range product, gives a customer access to over 8,000 merchants and fuel sites across the UK and gives them consolidated reporting.
We’ve also established Allstar Premier, which combines the Allstar network coverage with a product that gives customers the ability to take wholesale pricing where the sites overlap with our Allstar sites.
At the same time we’re developing some enhancements to allow fleet managers, business owners and CFOs to take better control over their spend on fuel. We have signed an agreement with Visa to enable our card to be Chip and PIN and to have the latest fraud controls, and the value this gives to customers is it allows them to set controls at either a programme or driver level.
How do you see the product evolving?
People who buy vehicles through leasing companies will have the opportunity to take the SMR package on the back of that. A significant number don’t do that – they fund it themselves. So what we’re doing is using our buying power to negotiate better-than market rates for our customer base.
When I think about fuel cards, they were seen as a payment mechanism for a fuel product. However with technology today we can think more broadly around that, we can think around workforce mobility. Our partnership with Visa enables us to get into different areas such as car parking, tolls, we can then apply train tickets – there’s no reason why we can’t build those onto the card.
Were there any problems migrating from Arval’s systems after the Fleetcor buyout?
We had a business embedded on Arval platforms, so we had to do a system migration and unfortunately we had some issues. At no point did the payments network not operate, however some customers were finding it difficult to understand or get their reports. The key learning is we could’ve spent more time getting customers up to speed with how the system operates and the way their reports will change. It wasn’t that we weren’t giving them the info, but it was in a different place.
What are you planning for 2014?
Our focus will still very much be on fuel and anything that’s adjacent. We’ll obviously do what we can and bring (the SMR product) to market quickly as possible but it’ll be more of a development phase.
The challenging environment is still pervasive. I know we often see the press talking about green shoots in the economy, but what I’ve seen is businesses are still being very conscious about how they can manage their cost base, how they can be more efficient and more productive. I think that’s one of the things that the economic cycle will leave as quite a long-lasting mechanism. I don’t think we’ll be frivolous for a long period of time.