Pitcher Takes the Helm at LeasePlan USA
Moving to the chief operating officer position, former LeasePlan USA CEO David Dahm has handed off top management responsibilities to five-year company veteran Mike Pitcher. Newly promoted Senior Vice President Jon Toups joins the LeasePlan USA executive management team. Automotive Fleet recently spoke with all three.
AF: As you assume the CEO post, what has been your message to LeasePlan USA employees?
Mike Pitcher: The key message has been about the company’s stability and growth at Employee Town Hall meetings. Employees read the newspapers. They see layoffs and economic downturns. However, LeasePlan is in a growth mode. Vehicle and fleet management growth has been significant, especially in view of the current economy.
In the past five years, LeasePlan experienced 60-percent funded unit growth. Fleet management sales and services experienced 18 percent growth.
We’ve been examining our operations/processes to improve efficiencies. One example of a cost-reduction initiative has been the eRepair, an electronic invoice solution for our maintenance vendors. Implementing a digital system to perform this kind of paperwork over the Internet has enabled LeasePlan to redeploy six employees to other profit-making functions. We’ve launched eRepair to all independent vendors and are now working with national vendors on the system.
AF: What have been key factors behind LeasePlan USA’s growth?
Pitcher: As part of the company’s growth strategy, LeasePlan is developing and introducing innovative and creative products, such as vehicle insurance, which we have been offering in Europe. We’re introducing other new products that have roots overseas, such as a closed-end lease product with open calculation.
We also have a new dealer service loaner program that reflects our out-of-the-box thinking and creativity.
AF: What is LeasePlan USA’s long-term strategy?
Pitcher: LeasePlan has a five-year plan. Two years into the plan, we’re validating it.
Our product roadmap includes being the first to market with a closed-end lease product with open calculation. Another is a safety and driver care product. In Europe, a huge emphasis has been placed on driver training that changes driving habits to impact fuel consumption. They have shown eco-driver training can improve fuel efficiency by 6 percent to 10 percent.
The range of LeasePlan products begins with simple vehicle towing and grows to full leasing with fleet management, accident management, and maintenance services.
AF: What are your goals as the new CEO of LeasePlan USA?
Pitcher: The previous executive management team has left a legacy of innovation, out-of-the-box solutions, and flexibility with clients. I don’t see any big changes in strategy. We’ll continue our existing strategic five-year plan, with small tweaks to respond to client events and needs.
In LeasePlan’s view, fleet management is not about cars or individual fleet components, but about full total cost of ownership (TCO) — looking from a strategic view at what you need the vehicle for and its overall costs.
Another goal is people development. LeasePlan has invested in incentivizing employees to further their education and training through certification programs, college and university courses, and other programs. We’re investing funds in leadership training as well. Employees have undergone the Oz Accountability training program, for instilling accountability in employees.
We don’t mandate employees pursue this. But we do ask each employee to set an annual individual goal of 40 accumulated hours of further training/education per year and have set a training schedule for all employees The goal is having employees who do their job better on December 31 than they did the previous January 1.