Vehicle Management Leaders Plan For The Future - Business Eye

3 Oct, 2018

Damian Hughes and Brian Casey have both gained significant lengths of service and experience with vehicle management specialists Fleet Financial. They believe the Mallusk based company couldn't be better placed in the wider motoring marketplace to support business customers and developing their retail customer base.

“We're part of a large motor industry Plc, but we're an autonomous company and that’s offered us a lot of strength and flexibility in recent years” says Fleet Financial's Managing Director, Damian Hughes.

It's also a formula which means that both Fleet Financial and its knowledgeable staff are well placed to understand the complexities and time constraints businesses face in managing their company vehicles.

As a company, Fleet Financial came into being back in 1996 when four experienced motor executives decided that the time was right for a specialist service-orientated supplier of leased and contract hire vehicles to business customers.

Fleet Financial quickly established itself as a leading supplier of company vehicles, providing exceptional customer service, sound advice and tailored solutions.

Brian Casey; Operations Director and Managing Director Damian Hughes believe the number of long-serving team members has been a significant component in Fleet Financial’s success over the years.

It’s this stability, knowledge, innovation and friendly approach which they believe helps them retain and attract customers.

Back in the summer of 2012, the company was acquired by the Charles Hurst Group, in turn part of Lookers Plc, one of the giants of the UK retail motor industry.

However, Fleet Financial continues to supply all makes and models of vehicles and makes a point of sourcing a large proportion of its vehicles from dealers in Northern Ireland.

“We don't have to do that, but we think it's important that we continue to support the local economy” adds Hughes.

“We were assured right from the start that we would be left as an autonomous unit based here in Mallusk, and the Charles Hurst Group has been good to its word on that one. They're there if we need them, the lines of communication are always open, and that's a reassurance”.

Fleet Financial deals with a wide range of customers, from sole traders with fleets of one vehicle through to large organisations with fleets of many. It supplies all shapes and sizes of cars and light commercials, and it's been increasing its presence not only in the very buoyant SME market but also in the fast-growing personal contract hire marketplace with its ‘Preferences’ brand.

Brian Casey believes most businesses have some understanding of the various options available to them in acquiring and managing vehicles however they want someone to make the process as efficient as possible.

“We’re finding an increasing number of businesses contacting us to help with their company vehicles. They’re looking at outsourcing, saving them time and money whilst bringing our knowledge and support to their business.”

Brian believes companies are pleasantly surprised by the range of products Fleet Financial can offer which includes vehicle funding including contract hire, breakdown recovery, accident management, short term hire, driver assistance app and online vehicle management software to name a few.

He adds “We have invested heavily in the last number of years in our product line up and try to ensure these services can be accessed and used by businesses of all sizes.

We have an ethos of Extra Comes as Standard within Fleet Financial and work hard to ensure this is communicated to our colleagues and our customers. We want customers to understand we can help them with any aspect of running cars and vans and we’re confident our product line reflects this.”

Damian Hughes acknowledges there are some challenges in the marketplace with vehicle supply, the future of diesel engines and hybrid technology along with the introduction of Worldwide Harmonised Light Vehicle Test Procedure (WLTP). A new testing procedure for cars and vans which provides more reliable emission and miles per gallon figures for vehicles which is effective from 1st September 2018.

“It's a fact of life and it's one we have to live with. We're used to legislative changes, after all, it’s the motor industry. It has caused some frustrations but ultimately, we need clarity and stability from Government and the motor manufacturers. In the interim we’ve been working very closely with our customers to help them understand the changes and meet their vehicle requirements. They still have businesses to run and vehicles are an important part of that”.

As for the future Damian Hughes says “We're very confident about the next few years. Our customers will always need vehicles, whatever type of vehicles they turn out to be, and we'll be here to advise them on choices and make their vehicle management as seamless as we possibly can. We’re continuing to invest in our team, our products and our service levels. We’ve made some significant changes in the last few years, all geared towards our customer interactions. From our first conversation to introduce our services through to the day to day management of their vehicles and drivers, we are constantly challenging ourselves to innovate, offer flexibility and deliver an outstanding service to businesses of all sizes”.

Brian Casey adds “As cliched as it sounds we’re a people business, we don’t want to be a faceless organisation. People are time constrained but our new customer acquisition rates would indicate businesses appreciate what we can do for them and see value in our product line up.

Most of all, they seem to like the fact we’ll get in our car, come and see them, offering a friendly and transparent service whether it’s a business of one vehicle or a fleet of vehicles. That’s how we started the business over twenty years ago and that’s how we see it continuing to develop. The perfect mix of technology and people working together.”

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