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From fleet manager to "change manager": how managing a company's fleet is changing completely

5 min to readMobility
As in the other departments of a company, the role of a fleet manager has changed at lightning speed in recent years, driven by technology. And that is a good thing, because there is quite a lot involved in managing a fleet. With the right tools, fleet managers can work more efficiently and respond better to employee expectations.
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Curious about the challenges fleet managers face and how they deal with them? Charles Dion, Commercial Manager at LeasePlan, talks to two experienced fleet managers. On one side Sofie Van Eemeren, HR & People Lead at Mobile Vikings. And on the other, Gwenny Simoen, Mobility Manager at HR services group Liantis. Both are not only experiencing the impact of the electrification of the car market, but also notice that companies are looking at their fleets differently due to the war for talent.

Charles: "Let's go back ten years. In what ways have you seen the role of fleet manager change?"

Sofie: "We now deal with our fleet completely differently. Before, as an employee at Mobile Vikings, you could choose between three cars in a standard colour and that was it. Because we want to attract and retain talent, we want to provide more tailored options for our employees. For instance, with a flexible remuneration plan that gives people the option of investing part of their salary in a more expensive car. Of course, that makes everything more complex."

Gwenny: "Before, we indeed just had to provide a car and a fuel card. Today, electrification makes it look completely different. Managing a fleet is multitasking. A lot of follow-up is needed. If an employee switches to an EV, for example, you have to make sure that the home charging station is installed preferably before the delivery of that car. One shift in the planning can cause a domino effect."

Charles: "Do people also come knocking on the door today with different kinds of questions?"

Sofie: "They certainly do. We get a lot of questions about charging solutions. Where can you charge? How should you charge? And what if you have a partner at home who also has an electric car and wants to charge it? We are currently collating all those questions. You can't have an answer ready for everything right away."

Gwenny: "We at Liantis made a conscious decision to make a hard switch to 100% electric. Then it makes sense that employees have a lot of questions."

Charles: "What did you guys do to make that hard switch possible?"

Gwenny: "Everything had to be started up in a few months. We knew right away that communication with our employees would be crucial, right from the start of the electrification process. That's why we first launched a newsletter in September 2022, in which we wanted to get our drivers excited about driving electric. We noticed, for instance, that they are concerned about electric cars being more expensive and, as a result, they fear that they will have to order a smaller car. So we first showed what makes and models are on offer. Then we organised an information event together with LeasePlan and others, and in the meantime we even have a website where we collect and answer the most frequently asked questions."

Charles: "Good communication is very important. What role do digital tools play in that challenge?

Gwenny: "A very big role. LeasePlan's tools have proven to be important for us. They allow us to automate things, giving us more time to guide employees and communicate about the change process."

Sofie: "True, we use My Fleet almost every day. We used to have to keep everything up-to-date in an Excel sheet, now through My Fleet we have centralised everything in one place. Among other things, we can see how long someone has been driving a car and when it's time to order a new vehicle. Everything is done proactively and automatically, so all we have to do is check and confirm. Eventually, we hope that this will also allow us to automate answering our drivers' questions, so that they immediately turn to the right channel."

Charles: "So more self-service. Is that something you as fleet managers are strongly committed to?"

Gwenny: "Every tool we use has the same objective: to improve our people's experience through automation and self-service. With Internet Quotations, for example, they can select a new vehicle themselves and we only have to intervene to start and complete a procedure. And in My LeasePlan, they can autonomously download insurance documents or file a claim. All things that used to come to us as fleet managers. Technology does not stand still for a second, but with LeasePlan as a partner, we know we are always up to speed with the latest developments."

Charles: "That's great to hear. From your own experiences, do you have any advice for other fleet managers facing the same challenges?"

Gwenny: "For me, the main thing is to implement electrification now. I feel that at Liantis we started it at exactly the right time. Keep in mind that there is quite a lot involved, especially with regard to the charging infrastructure. For example, you also need a new car policy that has to be approved by various parties first."

Sofie: "It all happens very quickly, so training is definitely not a bad idea. I have also followed training myself to keep abreast of the evolutions in the market."

Gwenny: "Another tip I would give is to look carefully at the cars you offer. Try to find the right balance between dynamism and workability. At Liantis, we offer a pallet of premium and non-premium brands. Of course, we don't want to miss out on innovations, which is why we scrutinise brands and models at regular intervals."

Sofie: "And then, of course, it is also important to work with the right partners. Electrification is not our core business, so we need a party like LeasePlan that works on this every day. A partner that answers questions and proactively points out changes in legislation. But also think about other partners you need. In the world of charging solutions, for example, startups have sprung up like mushrooms in recent years. Some are more reliable than others. At Mobile Vikings, we think customer service is very important, which is why we actively look for partners who also spearhead this themselves."

Charles: "We look forward to supporting you as a partner for a long time to come. Good luck, and thank you for this interesting conversation."

Published at April 8, 2024
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April 8, 2024
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