Who is my fleet manager? And can I have a shot of espresso, please?

Imagine you’re at a fleet conference and looking for that morning cup of joe to tide you over until the lunch break. You head over to the LeasePlan coffee lounge only to see a line of people who must have left the last session early to get a good position. It's going to be a long wait for a cup of coffee.

But you're a fleet manager, and as a fleet manager, you get to skip the line and order that espresso from an iPhone? That’s right, at this year’s NAFA Institute and Expo in Louisville, KY, many attendees met our newest team member and driver virtual assistant, Elle, for the first time.

Elle is designed to support fleet drivers with client-specific policy and frequently asked questions. Having been a part of Elle’s early development, I can attest that we have always wanted her to do special things to make our clients’ lives easier. Never did I imagine that she’d be streamlining break times at NAFA by sending coffee orders direct to the barista station!

This goes to show just how flexible Elle can be. Her technology is designed for an easy user experience, helping drivers report an accident, or discover how to improve their driving behavior. With a little training, she can also answer client-specific policy information, like “who’s allowed to drive my company car?” Or “who is my fleet manager?”

Give her a little more direction, and this chatbot is whipping up white chocolate mochas, iced cappuccinos and double espressos with almond milk (my personal favorite). And if that doesn’t impress you much, then consider that Elle sent all the coffee order data direct to an interactive dashboard, where attendees could view real-time stats from the data she collected.

While the dashboard displayed the most popular coffee orders at NAFA, and what time of day was most popular, it's merely a glimpse into the innovative data visualization our clients can access at any time to find dips and spikes in fleet activity, as well as trends and anomalies in their vehicles’ operations. Imagine the kind of information you can glean from the transactional data when it’s presented to you in ways you can visualize. It’s simply amazing what the data visualization team is brewing up these days.

Fun facts: Elle took over 140 coffee orders and most of the orders were placed on Tuesday afternoon between 1:30 pm and 2:30 pm. The most popular beverage? You guessed it lattes.

While Elle’s coffee ordering was only for a limited time, she is bound to give an extra jolt to the fleet industry as more companies are introduced to her bold flavor! Such a creative and fun way to introduce an innovative, voice-activated virtual assistant to the market. Interested in a demo? Chat with us!


How many recalls are hiding in your fleet?

Elle and her flexible technology capabilities weren’t the only star of the show. Our new Recall Management solution also stirred up quite the buzz. When research tells us 25% of vehicles in the average fleet have open safety-related recalls, it is time for fleets to do something about it. Just imagine what kind of recalls could be lurking in yours?

Conversations during NAFA indicated fleet managers are looking for ways to proactively tackle this cumbersome process of identifying recalls, notifying drivers and overseeing repairs. It was great to hear from the fleet community how they would like us to help them close this loop with our technology. This new recall solution addresses the problem of hidden recalls with multi-tiered communications with drivers to ensure repairs are completed.

If you would like to learn your open recall rate, contact us today for an evaluation of your fleet.


Thought leadership at its finest

Last but certainly not least, the LeasePlan experience spilled well beyond the walls of the coffee lounge and into the educational sessions.

Matt Dyer made his first appearance on stage at NAFA as president and CEO of LeasePlan USA during the executive panel speaking to the hot topics close to the hearts of fleet managers. “The game has changed significantly,” Dyer said as he addressed the growing expectations from drivers as they begin to require more instantaneous service. He went on to discuss new technologies that are contributing to a higher service level, such as mobile apps, virtual assistants and other tech that is becoming part of the drivers’ day to day world. These tools are supporting drivers “so they’re making the right choices within their fleet policy,” Dyer said.

In another session, Becky Langmandel, LeasePlan’s vice president of analytics, consulting & transformation, also led a session entitled, "Employee Burn-Out: Why Too Much Work Costs Big $$$”. Here, she addressed the impact overwork can have on safety and productivity, providing tips to fleets on how they can help drivers reduce stress, increase roadway safety and reduce incident costs. Did you know? A fleet of 1,000 vehicles with a 20% incident rate could spend $500,000 to $4.8 million a year. Safety is a big topic on the minds of many fleets – and something to stay on top of to save costs, and more importantly, the lives of your employees.

Felipe Smolka, LeasePlan’s executive vice president of transformation, and John Ciarlone, director of product development, also shared their expertise in a session entitled "Eliminating Bigfoot: The Path to Reducing Your Carbon Footprint.” They presented solutions on how organizations can reduce their carbon footprint – from incorporating fuel cards, using the right vehicle for the job, leveraging pool driver management solutions for low-mileage drivers and stepping out of the “petroleum paradigm” to test electric vehicles for various job functions.

For those that have even more aggressive sustainable targets, Felipe introduced innovative ways to get your fleet carbon neutral now – through tree planting initiatives, such as our partnership with Land Life, where carbon offsetting is available by way of tree planting. It made me proud to learn that LeasePlan has already planted 45,000 trees as part of this initiative. It was clear from audience engagement during and after the session that sustainability is an increasingly visible topic in our sector and that the move to alternative fuels and electric vehicles is happening ever more rapidly. TO VIEW THE PRESENTATION, CLICK HERE.


And That’s a wrap

It’s crazy to think I have been to nearly all of the last 14 NAFA events. Over the years, I have seen LeasePlan’s presence and capabilities grow bigger and better than the time before. Going on my 15th year with the company, I can certainly say there is a renewed energy, along with a focus on innovation and developing new solutions with the customer in mind. And this was even more clear during this year's events.

Hope to see you next year!


About the author

Alison Kirkland is the marketing director at LeasePlan USA. She is responsible for strategic planning and leading the team’s execution of marketing efforts. From product messaging and campaigns to events, digital marketing and PR. Ali is passionate about her work, and after 14 years with the company, she is excited about the transformation to the new LeasePlan. As a fleet driver herself, she enjoys working within her own organization to improve the client experience. You may even see her blog now and then about her life as a fleet driver. Please comment, like and share!

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"I didn't know that wasn't allowed!" says a driver as they're defending their behavior of texting while driving 60 mph down the freeway.

If you're a fleet manager, you've definitely heard this by now as you discover a driver operating outside of your fleet policy. It's a problem plaguing companies in general – and fleets are no different.

But having drivers that follow your fleet policy is important to your fleet operations. Fleet policies are typically built with the ultimate focus of an optimized fleet in all aspects. Having a fleet operating within compliance not only protects your company from liability concerns, it also helps increase fleet productivity and efficiency while preventing costly operating behaviors, such as speeding, rapid acceleration, etc.

With the vast number of rules and regulations we all have to abide by, it can be difficult to ensure our policies are being followed and enforced appropriately – or even know what all of the policies are! So how can you adjust your strategy to increase policy adherence and, consequently, your fleet's performance?

1. Educate your fleet. Drivers can't adhere to policies they don't know exist. And, while we always recommend that policies include a signature page indicating that the driver has read and is aware of the contents of the policy, that isn't enough. Conduct regular formal training around the different elements in the policy so you know they've been informed. Give your drivers the ability to succeed in the area of compliance by first being educated around what compliance looks like. Some fleet management companies even provide driver scorecards that can help monitor some of the pivotal compliance issues that exist within your fleet. A scorecard can be another great tool to help educate and enforce different elements of your policy.

2. Provide drivers easy access. Upload your fleet policy to the homepage of your company's intranet so that drivers can easily access the policy on an as-needed basis. Include a feedback form within this section as well so that they can submit any concerns or questions they may have regarding the policy quickly and easily. Driver feedback is key to ensuring they understand and feel confident that they are able to adhere to the policies outlined.

3. Make your policy simple. There's nothing worse than being held accountable for a policy that you can't understand. It's vital that your fleet policy be clear and concise to avoid any confusion for you and your drivers. While policies need to be detailed, they don't need to be overly complex or confusing. So, skip the legalese. Keeping it simple will help your drivers know what they need to do to remain within compliance and position them for success. Requesting a policy review from your fleet management company is a great way to be sure your policy is optimized for you and your drivers' success.

4. Foster a culture of compliance. Culture comes from the top down. If you want to have a fleet that is focused on compliance, then build one! Take a strong company stance on enforcing your fleet policy and incorporate it into your key objectives. Get buy-in from senior management to really ingrain this in the attitude of the company. Reward and celebrate those who act within compliance and drive your business forward; and deal fairly, yet appropriately, with those who do not. If drivers understand that this is a company-wide standard they are going to be held to, they are much more likely to adapt and adjust as they need to operate within the outlined policies.

5. Reward success. Implement a system rewarding your top performing drivers. While you can use any number of different elements to determine the top drivers, adherence to fleet policy can be one of the factors included. With some in-house competition in place, you may just find that your drivers are anxious to meet the requirements given to them and even exceed your expectations.

While ensuring adherence to fleet policy doesn't sound like the MOST exciting thing you'll do all day, it is important to protecting and optimizing your fleet. And, with the inclusion of incentives and internal competition, it can start to become a topic that invokes more smiles and nudges than groans and sighs.

If you need help structuring or reviewing your fleet policy for your company's success, reach out to our team of consultants for a comprehensive policy review. Our team will conduct a full review and provide detailed recommendations aimed at helping you achieve your fleet goals. Learn more about what's included in our fleet policy review.

About the author
Stacie Bevens serves as consultancy writer on the Analytics, Consulting and Transformation (ACT) team at LeasePlan USA. In her consultancy role, she oversees the safety and fleet policy review process and helps clients build and implement best-in-class policies that reflect their culture and values.

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Over the last two weeks, my fellow bloggers, Kris Bush and Maggie Leark, have both talked about our driver scorecard called OneScore from the perspective of the driver and the fleet manager. This week, I'm going to lift the hood on OneScore a little more and give you a taste of where it's headed.

With ever-rising operating costs, fleet managers are often on the lookout for savings and more efficiencies. The typical challenge revolves around the diminishing returns of going through the same variables repeatedly to no avail, with marginal returns. You can only squeeze a budget so hard before it starts to hurt!

Fleets are hungry for ways to increase productivity, reducing operating expenses and lessening downtime for drivers, that's a fact. OneScore is here to help identify where these tough-to-find- opportunities may be hiding. OneScore is made up of three major buckets of data points – driver safety, efficiency and compliance, where each and every variable is scored against our aggregated internal benchmarks. This framework helps us have more intelligent discussions on what to focus the fleet on to unlock savings.

Our data-centric approach has proven that one of the most neglected fleet-cost villains is in fact the driver behavior itself, regardless of the size of the fleet.

OneScore today – Safety and Telematics

If we are not watching driving behavior carefully, it can easily have a negative impact on a company’s bottom line. Better understanding of key data points can help bring clarity to poor total cost of ownership (TCO), and bring to life agonizing trends and enable fleet managers to take action to stop the "bleeding."

Many of us were awestruck by some of the figures shared by our telematics partner, Geotab, not too long ago. They said employers in the United States collectively pay $60 billion annually for motor vehicle crashes involving their employees in direct expenses – wow! The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) reported that each fatal car crash averages a payout of $500,000. This loss can exceed $1,000,000, depending on the severity and legal outcome.

Sadly, it doesn’t end there. Poor driver behavior can also adversely impact the number of vehicle incidents, driver productivity, vehicle downtime and replacement. Poor driving can also increase fuel and maintenance costs by large percentages, hitting a fleet’s efficiency performance levels. As the saying goes, more is NOT always better. However, in this context, data abundancy bodes well with what we are trying do with OneScore.

Though the world at large is still getting used to the advanced features in today’s cars to keep people safe, more Adaptive Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) data points will bring additional opportunities to connect vehicle data with TCO. With advanced tech like lane and steering assist that beeps [loudly] every time you take your eyes off the road, or when there’s a car right in your blind spot, drivers can get real-time car feedback for corrective action, but so can fleet operators! With embedded technologies becoming more common, carmakers are collecting massive amounts of data from every make and model out there.

A whole bunch of data

It wasn’t too long ago, in the late 1990s, when the first vehicle tracking systems began to emerge with single client-server connectivity. But with the speed of technology advancements, telematics is a prevalent resource to gain insight from fleet drivers and the vehicles they are riding.

It's not hard to gain access to a flood of historical and real-time data these days, but the challenge is how to adequately unpack these vehicle and driver data points while marrying them with other sources of information to make the effort worthwhile.

Connecting the dots – Let's get some actionable insights PLEASE!

It is with enthusiasm that we believe in the opportunity to promote fleet safety and greater fleet efficiencies through gaining a deeper appreciation of this daily “data-rich” alliance between drivers and their wheels. With the MyLeasePlan mobile app, we are gathering relevant connected and non-connected driver and vehicle data and weaving them into OneScore. This is unique in our industry. Some scorecards out there are still static reports – we think that's just not good enough for the modern fleet.

With OneScore, we empower fleet drivers to be the best fleet driver they can be. Because we aggregate OneScore data from any departmental structure or organizational model our clients need, OneScore is also fleet branch friendly. It goes without saying the tool can be seen at an enterprise level, too. Our algorithm-based method tracks, scores and provides feedback to drivers and fleet managers on their performance – and it's more than just safety data. OneScore cuts across performance indicators in three categories – safety, efficiency and compliance – and lets drivers and fleet operators know how they can be safer, more efficient, and in turn, reduce fleet costs.

The process of seamlessly joining all fleet activity into one easy-to-read score with the ability to drill down to see how drivers compare to their peers gives us an opportunity to better communicate with our drivers and determine focus areas.

A window into the future

At LeasePlan, we have taken the extra steps with our development teams to ensure our fleet analysis and data models are permeating into the business rather than nurturing siloed data sources. It is impossible to fully search the data points when you can't work horizontally between different data sources.

Recently, my buddy Greg Buckland, LeasePlan USA's CIO, and I spoke at an AFLA conference about “The Problem with Big Data” and how to turn information into a strategic asset. We discussed a rather healthy approach to “getting dirty” with big data. Talking from experience, we suggested the audience start small. Start by working out what you want to know first, then work out how you're going to get the information. This approach has helped us continue to evolve OneScore into a consultative tool. By elevating fleet performance into a dynamic scoring mechanism, it enables a simple conversation about what matters the most for our clients.

As for what's next – we will be taking OneScore from the responsive to the predictive. It will become not only a window into the present of your fleet, but somewhat of a crystal ball giving you insight into where your fleet's performance is headed, and where to make improvements to change that trajectory!

If you'd like to learn more about our telematics, safety and OneScore solutions just contact us!

About the author

As executive vice president of transformation at LeasePlan USA, Smolka is leading the strategy to drive modernization and innovation across the U.S. subsidiary and launch the company further into its journey to deliver what's next for fleet, mobility and connected vehicles. Smolka's career has consistently revolved around digital transformation, developing cutting-edge technologies and leveraging the power of big data to create and deliver value. With a strong history of successes, Smolka is a proven leader poised to transform the fleet industry. Smolka has an MBA from Emory Goizueta Business School.




*LeasePlan is committed to ensuring we handle customer, business partner and employee data to a high and compliant standard. We were one of the first companies to introduce a set of binding privacy rules across the whole of our organization, and we have established a dedicated Privacy Office to make sure those rules are upheld. But this does not make us complacent. As technology develops and our use of data changes, LeasePlan is continuously working to improve our data protection policies, processes and systems.

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Last week, Kris Bush, our vice president of product management, and LeasePlan fleet driver, explained how OneScore helps him be a better fleet driver. OneScore, the driver scorecard, is an awesome tool for helping each of us keep safe, efficient and compliant on the road. However, OneScore doesn't just benefit the driver, it's also a valuable tool for the fleet manager.

As LeasePlan's vice president of client experience, I manage a team that looks after our outsourced fleets. That makes me the fleet manager for nearly 60 different fleets of various shapes and sizes! I'll let you in on a little secret right now – my team and I couldn't succeed on behalf of our clients each and every day without OneScore.

OneScore – the basics for fleet managers

As a fleet manager with 38 years of experience, I know there are three key elements to running a fleet well:
1. Safety – safety is, quite simply, number one!
2. Efficiency – if we want our stakeholders to see value in a fleet, we have to run it as efficiently as possible.
3. Compliance – this area of fleet management directly underpins the other two where we have to be compliant to stay safe and efficient!

So, when I log in to check out a fleet's OneScore and I see it's anywhere south of 95/100 (100 is the only time we relax!), I know I need to dig a little deeper into what's causing the dip. Because LeasePlan understands what matters to our clients, and how to manage a best-in-class fleet, I can immediately tell from OneScore which of the above categories is causing the drop. Now it's time to put my investigator hat on!

OneScore – digging deeper and solving problems

Here's where OneScore really gets useful. It works like a series of indicators, pointing me to where the issue is.

Let's say I see the issue is with safety. The two main aspects of safety within OneScore are motor vehicle record checks (MVRs) and incidents. Immediately I can go and see if there are MVRs that are returning negative results, or if there have been some incidents recently.

When the impacted area is MVRs, I can work with other teams like HR to iron out the issues. If it's incidents causing a problem, I can look at our safety solution and recommend training for those who've been involved. Trends can point me in the direction of implementing wider training initiatives. If this is going to incur a cost, I can already show where the ROI will be to our stakeholders.

Perhaps the lower score is associated with maintenance. Luckily, at LeasePlan, we have an amazing Analytics, Consulting, and Transformation team (ACT) who have built a series of interactive dashboards. This enables me (and all our clients) to see, in seconds, where the maintenance issue is. If there's a small number of drivers causing the score to suffer, I can drill down to the exact details. Sometimes, it's as simple as a few people who've let oil changes slide.

We know as fleet managers missing an oil change can cause serious future problems. We also know that when life gets busy it's one of the things many people let slide. Sometimes, getting that maintenance score back up is as simple as giving a driver a call and reminding them that they need to get preventive maintenance done to keep things on track.

I've often found that someone's been on leave or had a child recently and got busy. All they needed was that reminder to make their vehicle a priority. If there's more of a trend in a particular region, I might see if there's a new regional leader who doesn't quite understand the value of a well-run fleet. I can give them a call and help them understand that costs put off now (e.g. an oil change), can quickly lead to heftier costs (e.g. a new transmission) down the line. It can also chip away at next quarter's results and leave your bottom line lacking in the longer term!

If the issue is with compliance, it could be as simple as a local government paperwork delay. As a result, I put my communicator hat on to let drivers know what's happening. Now, if a new tag is delayed because a DMV has gotten behind with applications, drivers will soon be able to ask Elle – our new virtual assistant in the MyLeasePlan app – "is my tag delayed?" That way, if they notice the OneScore dip before we reach out to them, we can ease their concerns instantly.

OneScore – the bottom line

I love the fleet industry. I started working in a temporary role and just couldn't leave it! Throughout my career I've had to use spreadsheets, analysis and sometimes simply "hunches" to get to the root of where exactly a fleet's performance needs improvement. Now, all I have to do is log into OneScore and follow those indicators.

If you'd like to find out more about how we can help you run a best-in-class fleet, just drop us a line! Or check out more on OneScore.

About the author
As Vice President of Client Experience, Maggie Leark leads a team of dedicated client service professionals. Maggie and her colleagues also provide our outsourced solutions including MyFleetResource and MyFleetProfessional. With 38 years of experience in the fleet management sector there's no challenge she, and her team, can't overcome for our clients.

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Most company car drivers probably judge the "goodness" of their driving by how many tickets they've received or how many crashes they've been involved in. But when you look under the hood, you realize there are a lot more criteria involved in being a good driver. Risk and safety are very important components but there are financial and compliance factors as well.

To that end, most drivers are simply performing their daily, weekly, monthly routine without a lot of thought into if they are doing the right things as a company car driver. But, if drivers had a way of knowing whether they were doing right and were educated on what to do to be better, would they change their ways? This was the genesis of OneScore, LeasePlan's driver scorecard.

As a company car driver myself, I know I need to get my oil changed. I may not fully understand that it can prevent bigger repairs down the road or even improve the resale value of my vehicle at the end of the lease, but I know I need to get my oil changed. As a driver, OneScore helps me better know when to get my oil changed and where to get my oil changed. The when is simple since most people are already programmed to get their oil changed every so many miles. But OneScore clearly tells me the optimal window to get my oil changed.

The where, however, can be trickier. Maybe I'm more about convenience and want to go to the place near my home or want the fast oil change that might cost a good bit more. It's not my money after all. Or maybe my brother-in-law owns a shop and that's where I prefer to go. But if I plan appropriately, I can get great service in a fair amount of time while saving my company money by going to a preferred National Account vendor.

The other way I can save my company money is by achieving a reasonable miles per gallon (MPG) from my vehicle. What's reasonable? Well OneScore compares my vehicle to others like it in the LeasePlan fleet so I have a benchmark. Then I can get to work on maintaining or improving that number.

Maybe I have a lead foot or accelerate too quickly at red lights. It's possible that I'm carrying around extra weight in my vehicle that is unnecessary and that is weighing down my results. At the end of the day, a little improvement goes a long way across a fleet of vehicles.

Let's move on to compliance. I was kind of a rebel when I was young. Tell me I have to do something and I'll never want to do it. I know that's silly and I'm way too old to feel that way anymore, but I'm sure I'm not the only one who had that streak in them.

But when it comes to my company car, I know what I have to do and I generally know why I have to do it, thanks again to OneScore. Whether it is recording my business and personal miles at the beginning of each month or submitting documents when it's time to have my registration renewed, I'm always reminded of what I need to do. I've never had this issue but, if LeasePlan is missing license plate information for my vehicle, I would be prompted to provide that as well. I understand that part of being a company car driver is fulfilling my obligations. And, as long as those obligations are clear, I'm happy to do so.

Finally, let's touch on the risk and safety portion. I should never be surprised by my motor vehicle record (MVR) or incident components of OneScore. They are the direct result of my actions. That being said, it never hurts to have a little reminder to hopefully prevent past mistakes in the future.

So after a close review of my OneScore – it's a 98 by the way – I would say I'm a pretty good driver. And I also know what I need to do to push that score to 100.

Want to learn more about OneScore? Click here. And check out next week's blog where we cover OneScore from the fleet manager perspective.

About the author
Kristofer Bush serves as vice president, product management for LeasePlan USA and has been with the organization for more than 19 years. He recently took on this new assignment with a focus on product management. His team is responsible for the development of products such as Safety, Connected Vehicles and client portal tools like the MyLeasePlan driver app. While he believes that he is an excellent driver, many of the tools that LeasePlan provides their clients' drivers have proven to him that he still has a lot of room for improvement.

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