One of the best-known family names in UK fleet management over the last 30 years has returned to the industry with the launch of Fleet Service Great Britain (Fleet Service GB).
Photo caption (left to right): Marcus Bray, head of sales; Peter Hitt, head of operations; Geoffrey Bray, Fleet Service GB non-executive chairman; Mark Pearce, chief executive; Dominic Shearn, head of communications; Stephen Hughes, head of technology.
Marcus Bray, who with his father and stepmother was instrumental in the growth of Fleet Support Group (FSG) from a kitchen table concept to becoming the UK’s largest privately owned fleet management company managing 55,000 vehicles and drivers, has launched with an experienced management team the new fleet management company and already won contracts with well-known UK businesses.
Commenting on his decision to re-enter the fleet management industry, Mr Bray, head of sales at Fleet Service GB, said he was approached by a number of individuals with significant industry experience and, following discussions, the decision was taken to form the unique co-ownership company, in which members of the senior management team were all shareholders.
The development follows the 2011 acquisition of FSG by United States headquartered ARI after “an out of the blue” offer – the business was subsequently renamed ARI Fleet UK in 2012. The sale ultimately led to the departure of Mr Bray’s father and stepmother and then his own in 2013.
Commenting on the task of a fleet management company Mr Bray said: “A fleet management company must never forget that it is the client who owns the asset and it is their money the management company is spending.
“To be successful therefore a fleet management company must truly understand a client’s needs and become a genuine extension of the customer’s management team. By sharing goals and visions, trust develops which ultimately leads to a partnership that delivers a cost and operationally beneficial service.
“In my previous company our reputation was built on offering industry-leading customer service. Technology has a key role to play in fleet management, but too many providers have lost sight of the fact that it is committed and dedicated people who actually deliver the service and ultimately make the difference.”
Mr Bray, who has spent his entire career in vehicle and driver management earning a first class reputation for consistently delivering an exceptional and personalised customer service centric range of fleet management services, continued: “Fleet Service GB has launched with cutting-edge IT systems, but the technology is only as good as the people using it.
“Processes and systems mean nothing if, at the sharp end, no-one really cares. Technology is simply a tool – the big ingredient is people and that is how Fleet Service GB differentiates itself in the marketplace.”
Mr Bray further added that while he wished ARI and former colleagues well, he had identified that there existed in the market place a real opportunity to build an exciting fleet management company staying true to his family’s established principles of delivering an exceptional level of fleet management service, embracing industry-leading data processing and information technology.
Fleet Service GB is headquartered in Corsham, Wiltshire, and non-executive chairman is Mr Bray’s father, Geoffrey, an industry veteran who is also a member of the Fleet News Hall of Fame.
Chief executive is Mark Pearce, an accountant who has worked in the automotive and fleet sector, beginning his career in fleet management and continuing it in garage management and finally garage ownership.
Head of operations is Peter Hitt, an experienced industry professional who has spent many years successfully delivering a wide range of fleet management services; head of technology is Stephen Hughes, who headed up the IT software development department of the Audit Commission; and head of communications is Dominic Shearn, who bring more than 25 years of IT communication experience and has a specialist knowledge in the designing and building of applications (apps) that run on mobile devices.
The commitment to delivering exceptional customer service, as consistently promoted over many years by Geoffrey Bray, is at the heart of Fleet Service GB and the driving force behind the business.
Mr Bray said: “Fleet management continues to evolve, notably with technological advances for managing vehicles, drivers and journeys, but real success for a fleet management company lies in the ability to continually listen to client needs and then develop and implement services that completely satisfies the identified requirements.
“Businesses that lose touch with their customers, become disconnected and no longer listen to what they need, very soon lose those clients. Companies that uncouple relationships and de-personalise service and then rely on technology to do the fleet management job will soon find out the error of their ways.
“Fleet Service GB will always be face-to-face and personal – there is no other way to deliver an effective fleet management solution where dealing with the almost impossible to measure intangibles, will always make the difference.”
Hertfordshire-headquartered vacant property management and maintenance specialists VPS, which has in excess of 300 vehicles, is among the first customers of Fleet Service GB. It opted to use its services following a strategic fleet review.
The company is expanding rapidly and was already outsourcing the management of its ever-growing fleet of 275 light commercial vehicles and 50 cars, but last September identified the need to have a strategic focus on fleet management and appointed Eric Harrington as national fleet manager.
He explained: “I reviewed the service we were receiving from our incumbent management company and it became obvious that not just were there weaknesses but the service was extremely costly for VPS.
“I reviewed the market and was recommended to use Fleet Service GB. Although a new company, I was aware of how it came into being and the history of its management team in the industry.
“Fleet Service GB is now responsible for the day-to-day management of the fleet and all service, maintenance and repair work is carried out through its own appointed garage network. With 17 service centres nationwide it is important that we have reliable garages that are close to our vehicle locations.”
He concluded: “So far the service has been excellent and we look forward to building upon what has been a great start to see Fleet Service GB deliver both enhanced service, fleet efficiency and sustainable cost reduction and control.”
The launch services offered by Fleet Service GB cover vehicle maintenance including a 24/7 call handling service and crash and driver management incorporating occupational road risk management. Further services and programmes will be added over the coming weeks.
Overarching the service programmes, the technology development will contain predictive and analytical tools with the ability to forecast future expenditure and support automated interventions, essential to control all operational costs surrounding vehicles and drivers.
Fleet Service GB is also working with a number of already established fleet industry partner organisations to deliver a raft of add-on services including vehicle funding and the acquisition and disposal of company cars and vans.
Mr Bray concluded: “Cost management for vehicles and drivers is an agenda topping issue for every organisation where transport is an integral part of the business. That is why Fleet Service GB promotes its involvement as a genuine extension of a client’s own fleet department, working in true partnership
“By drawing on its rich heritage, the Fleet Service GB team will deliver a continuous programme of technology driven innovations and will quickly become an industry-recognised best practise service provider.”