FLEET AND REMARKETING DIRECTOR, FCA UK
Having the right level of contact with existing and new customers is among the group’s priorities for 2019 and beyond
One year in and FCA fleet and remarketing director Andy Waite is able to reflect on a successful 12 months for his quintet of brands.
Fleet and leasing registrations for Abarth were up 165%, Alfa Romeo by 12% and Fiat by 16%. Only Fiat Professional, down 15% mainly due to customer replacement cycles, and Jeep, down 9%, bucked the trend, the latter due to the gradual build-up of the revised Renegade and launch of the all-new Wrangler.
Jeep’s time will come though, with a product plan including another six model launches or revisions by 2022 and PHEV hybrid vehicles due in 2020. Together with Alfa Romeo, it has the greatest potential for growth in the fleet sector over the next couple of years.
“In the short-term, 2019 and 2020, we are looking at growth in true fleet and a lot of that will be Jeep and Alfa Romeo,” Waite says. “Our product strategy, coupled with the recent announcements at Geneva that production of PHEV Jeep will begin in 2020, means we are now increasing our levels of resource to make this happen.”
FCA’s fleet team is going through a restructure as Waite coincides the flood of new models with his plan to build on the momentum of improved customer experience. He is recruiting a national manager to oversee all FCA’s relationships with medium and large corporates; previously the responsibility was divided between three people.
“I want a singular approach to our relationships,” Waite says. “To begin with, it’s simply having the right degree of contact with existing and new customers. We have to enhance the quality and quantity of interactions we have.”
Relationships will be further bolstered by investment in the back-office team, which will take on day-to-day management of the user-chooser fleets. Waite describes it as virtual account management.
“We will be able to focus on at least four points of contact a year with fleet managers of user-chooser fleets. We’ve not been able to do that before,” he says.
He also recognises the importance of engaging drivers, which requires greater familiarity with the brands. That’s why FCA is investing heavily in its field-based and office teams, as well as its marketing activity, to “knock over the barriers”.
Waite adds: “As a challenger brand, we have to win people over. When they get into a Jeep or Alfa Romeo, drivers are surprised how they live up to the brand values. They deliver whether that’s style and driver appeal, or capability and robustness.”
Also high on Waite’s agenda is further reduction in short-term rental volumes. Fiat, accounting for by far the biggest proportion of FCA rental registrations, cut volumes by 61% last year; Jeep was down 40%.
“We see a need to further improve our residual values by managing our shorter-cycle business. We reduced it last year and we will further reduce it in 2019 – the thinking is by half again,” he says.
“It is also important to look at the mix of volume as a percentage of our overall total and our capability to remarket it. We had an outstanding year for used vehicle activity and we have good programmes that are able to take on the volume.”
“As a challenger brand, we have to win people over. When they get into a Jeep or Alfa Romeo, drivers are surprised how they live up to the brand values. They deliver whether that’s style and driver appeal, or capability and robustness”
FCA has kept the pricing guides informed about its rental targets which has resulted in a consistent rise in residual values for many models during 2018.
Waite is confident all residuals will rise this year, helping to increase the total cost of ownership (TCO) competitiveness of the cars.
He is also in no doubt that FCA has opportunities to boost its true fleet sales across all the key fleet segments, with his specialist business centre network playing an important role.
“Despite our improvements in our market share over the past few years, significant opportunities are open to us. We have developed our activity through our retailer network for SME and small fleet and we have restructured our programme at the start of the year.”
Waite expects to have 25 business centres by the end of the year, expanding the network further into 2020.
The public sector is another target market, with FCA riding the success of its light commercial vehicles in the ambulance sector.
“Now, through CCS (the local authority procurement service), we are on the police framework. There are a number of areas of the public sector supply chain where we can make progress, especially now we have an alternative fuel offering” Waite says.
Meanwhile, in corporate, FCA will continue to work closely with colleagues in mainland Europe to support negotiations with multi-national fleets.
“As our product offering grows, we will have the right opportunities to develop the right relationships this year to gain business into 2020,” Waite says. “We do well with Fiat Professional and we need to maintain the momentum we have built with the car fleets.”
A core part of the FCA strategy is the ‘complete coverage’ principle. Waite’s team can offer fleets every model from a Fiat 500 pool car to a 3.5-tonne van; they can stretch into affinities offers and cash-for-car solutions. In short, FCA has something for every fleet.
“From the practical to the emotional, we can do it all with one conversation. There aren’t many fleets that don’t have a fond memory of at least one of our models. It doesn’t win business, but it does allow us to start the conversation about how we can add value to their business and support them with cost-effective solutions,” Waite says. “And, as our RVs improve, our TCO will improve helping our leasing arm, Leasys, to offer even more competitive rentals. Our product range will continue to widen so there are rational reasons for choosing us. We are a logical choice for fleets and their drivers.”