Dragintra Fleet Services is an independent service provider offering support with tactical and strategic fleet and mobility management issues (www.dragintra.nl). “Think of issues like increased sustainability of car policies and optimising contracts and cooperation with suppliers. We help our clients meet their targets, for instance by selecting the right suppliers and taking over the operational activities generally carried out by the client’s fleet manager.”
Whether we can speak of a trend, Erik Wijbenga of Dragintra cannot yet not state categorically. But it is noticeable. He picks up similar signals from visiting leasing companies. In itself it’s not surprising. Using today’s technology, many leasing companies try to digitise the customer journey to the max. Drivers or fleet managers can very well process changes themselves. A question about a tyre change can be handled digitally too. But take the vehicle order process, which, as Wijbenga emphasizes, is arguably one of the most complex processes in the lease vehicle lifecycle. And certainly one that cannot be automated entirely. Where in the past a Driver Desk offered support with for instance the calculation and configuration of a new car, drivers and fleet managers are now left to their own devices. And fleet managers operating multi-bid schemes, involving offers from multiple leasing companies, are faced with even more work.
Wijbenga says, “You hear talk of ‘simply building an interface’ between a company’s lease and HR administration. That it’s easy to upload and exchange data. But such an interface is not something you just build. Dragintra has such interfaces in place with just about every leasing company, but that meant investing heavily.”
‘Versatile mobility partners’
The vast majority of the larger fleet owners do business with multiple leasing companies. According to Wijbenga, it’s virtually impossible for companies to enter and change their operational processes in all the different systems of their leasing companies by themselves. Strict privacy regulations complicate matters even further. “For many companies, performing operational tasks is precisely one of the reasons to opt for leasing.”
Today, leasing companies position themselves as their clients’ ‘versatile mobility partners’, shifting the emphasis to the front-end of their services. Consultancy plays an important part, guiding clients through the ever-sprawling mobility industry. In itself, there’s nothing wrong with this, particularly if it’s accompanied by more flexible services. Wijbenga signals numerous excellent initiatives in this area, such as combining smaller lease cars for daily use with ‘holiday cars’ or e-bikes as part of a lease contract. But streamlining the back-end operations is equally important. To all intents and purposes, this is the rationale of a fleet management organisation like Dragintra. “The more leasing companies abandon of their operational tasks, the better we can position ourselves.
Would this ‘trend’ make opting for a single source supplier more attractive? Fleet owners doing business with one leasing company for all their mobility needs, as favoured by leasing companies? Wijbenga doesn’t think it likely any time soon. Especially with leasing costs under pressure and companies standing to gain a lot from multi-bid schemes. For that matter, Wijbenga considers the leasing companies’ ever-widening service offering a risk. “The wider the service offering, the greater the complexity that clients face. The leasing companies offer a vast array of products, ranging from mobility passes to a mobility hub, from budgets to car sharing. And all the while they completely ignore what clients often seek: simplicity!”
The leasing market’s focus on versatile mobility has a dual nature in that the number of lease cars still count. The course of the sector’s trade organisation in the Netherlands, VNA, is entirely based on those figures and, as yet, leasing companies calculate their efficiency based on the ratio of number of cars against number of staff. Which doesn’t mean that companies’ mobility demands don’t change. Wijbenga emphasizes that, in fact, they do. Roughly speaking, sustainability and e-mobility are the main themes. Each company translates these needs differently; there are no standard solutions.
Wijbenga elaborates, “Especially now you need to be able to choose the best solutions from the best service providers. If, as a company, you wish to opt for car sharing, mobility budgets or MaaS solutions, no problem. We find the best solutions for our clients. These are often offered by specialised parties, making mobility passes or lease bikes their core business. To open up this specialist network to our clients, we have recently set up a central billing system . As a result, invoicing our clients for services rendered remains simple. Because remember, when compared to car leasing, opening up alternative mobility solutions is a different line of work altogether. As far as this is concerned, our motto is: every man to his trade!”
Central billing connects mobility partners
In recent years, Wijbenga has seen exciting initiatives introduced by leasing companies, e.g. in the area of mobility budgets and car sharing, founder or fail. Perhaps they jumped the gun, but the odds are: the client wasn’t able to implement the scheme within the organisation. Wijbenga also has great misgivings about many new MaaS products. “Everyone simply assumes that it will all spontaneously work well online. But people need personal advice and interaction. Most people don’t read the extensive instructions first.” At the same time, versatile mobility offers new opportunities for fleet owners and drivers who would like to make the transition to sustainable mobility. The number of enquiries that Dragintra receives on this subject are on the rise. It’s the fleet management organisation’s task to make enquiries in the market of specialist suppliers. Wijbenga says, “There’s a growing demand for alternatives to the lease car. This means exploring the market beyond the leasing companies. But how to manage the additional invoicing flows? For this purpose we developed central billing at the end of last year. On behalf of our clients we settle the specialist supplier invoices and specify these costs on a single collective invoice. Fleet owners want their burden eased and the last thing they need is additional invoicing and administrative flows.”