Brice Adamson, senior vice president, leads Enterprise Fleet Management, a full-service vehicle management business and an affiliate of car rental company Enterprise Holdings Inc. Adamson has overall responsibility of the Enterprise Fleet Management business, including the direction of the operations.
Owned by the Taylor family, Enterprise Fleet Management and its affiliate, Enterprise Holdings, together offer a total transportation solution, operating nearly 1.9 million vehicles throughout the world. Other services marketed under the Enterprise brand name include Car Sales, Truck Rental, CarShare, Rideshare vanpooling, Zimride, Exotic Car Collection, Car Club, and Flex-E-Rent.
Enterprise Fleet Management provides full-service fleet management for companies, government agencies, and organizations operating medium-sized fleets of 20 or more vehicles, as well as those seeking an alternative to employee-reimbursement programs.
Adamson started his Enterprise career in Southern California as a management trainee in 1988 shortly after graduating from Utah State University with a degree in finance. He was promoted to a series of management positions with Enterprise Rent-A-Car in the U.S. as VP and general manager, Adamson took an overseas assignment with Enterprise to open and lead the company’s newly formed operations in Manchester, U.K. In 1999, he took over the company’s London operations as VP and general manager.
Adamson’s achievements earned him a promotion to corporate vice president, and later, senior vice president of the United Kingdom and Ireland, where he helped develop the replacement market for Enterprise.
In 2008, the opportunity to return to the States and lead the company’s operations in the Southeast brought Adamson to St. Louis, where his team achieved tremendous success. In 2016, Adamson was promoted to his current role of leading Enterprise Fleet Management and placed in charge of overseeing a network of more than 50 fully staffed offices and a fleet of more than 470,000 vehicles, of which 350,000 are funded using open-end TRAC leases.
To learn more about Adamson’s strategic objectives, AF interviewed him at the Enterprise corporate headquarters in St. Louis, Mo.
Here are excerpts from our interview:
AF: What message would you want to convey to our readers about yourself and your philosophy toward serving the commercial fleet market?
Adamson: First of all, I’m really excited to be in my position. I’ve been with Enterprise for nearly 30 years. Most of my experience has been in car rental. Coming into this position last year, it’s invigorating to learn the industry, the opportunities for further expansion, and the opportunity to bring the services we provide for Enterprise Holdings, the car rental side of the business, directly to our fleet management customer base.
AF: What’s your assessment on today’s market conditions?
Adamson: Overall, business is good. Our customers are busy. We just had our customer advisory board (CAB) meeting a couple of months ago and business is generally good.
AF: What types of vocational businesses are attracted to Enterprise?
Adamson: It’s really diverse. We just did a round of asset-backed security (ABS) financing for our fleet. As we were going through the presentation, it was amazing to see the number of industries we’re in — we’re in every industry. This is great from the ABS perspective because the risk is spread everywhere. Key industries where we have many clients are construction, service businesses, HVAC contractors, landscapers, and roofers — but our customer base runs the whole gamut.
AF: Based on your interactions with these companies, what are the top vehicle trends that are impacting them?
Adamson: From a vehicle perspective, safety is on the mind of everybody. Getting the latest technology in the hands of a driver as soon as it’s reasonably practical is something that regularly comes up at our CAB meetings.
AF: With your focus on the small to midsize fleet marketplace, what initiatives do you have in place or will introduce to better serve this market?
Adamson: The trend is to provide customers who want it with more self-service capabilities. We want to provide the technology and services our customers want now or will want in the future.
We’re constantly evolving our customer website by adding more content for customers who want to be more self-reliant. However, the important fleet decisions on lifecycle considerations, such as when to buy or sell vehicles, will always require a very strong relationship with our account managers.
AF: Enterprise has a strong reputation of offering high-touch, high-quality customer service. With a growing interest in self-service capabilities by clients, how do you balance the two?
Adamson: We’ve got some really good experience on that with the National Car Rental brand that we own. The commercials you see on TV depict pros who want to be in charge. When they go to the airport, they don’t want to talk to anyone. They’ve already made their reservation. They want to get in the car, drive through the exit gate, and be on their way. But that doesn’t happen without a lot of behind-the-scenes service by us.
On the other hand, the Enterprise Rent-A-Car and Alamo Rent A Car brands provide more contact through the rental process.
We adapt for our car-rental customers to deliver the service and value they want, how they want it.
Likewise, we do the same in fleet management. We’re not going to simply direct our customers to go to the website to decide whether it’s right or wrong to replace a vehicle. We’re going to talk to them about it and provide advice. We have fleet analysis meetings with our clients and hold annual client reviews. These meetings are really important because it’s a scorecard on the services we are providing them.
AF: What are the key strengths that Enterprise Fleet Management offers in terms of fleet management services?
Adamson: It’s our local account management. We’ve got more than 50 offices throughout the U.S. and Canada. They are fully staffed with fleet professionals who will meet with customers three times a year. One is a fleet analysis meeting and another is an annual client review. The third meeting is a T&E event where we take customers out to lunch, dinner, a baseball game, or something like that.
Because of our office locations, we’re working in the local market. We have that ability to meet with each one of our customers. It doesn’t matter how big or small they are. We can help them with important decisions that will help lower their total cost of ownership. We review this with them in person at their offices.
Because of our affiliation with Enterprise Rent-A-Car, we hire people from rental who already have experience managing fleets. A key strength of Enterprise on both the fleet management and rental sides is that we’re in so many local markets that we can have that type of relationship with our customers across the board. As a result, our customer retention is very high and it is because of the relationships we’ve developed with them.
AF: Enterprise has a large presence in the small-to-midsize market. Do you have any strategic inclinations to move upmarket to service larger fleets?
Adamson: This is something that is misunderstood about Enterprise. We have many large customers, and many of them have been our clients for very long periods of time. Our structure of more than 50 locations allows us to be close to our clients, especially larger decentralized fleets. But our local offices also allow us to identify many prospects that are in the small- to medium-size market. Our local structure attracts these small- to medium-size customers to us.
Do we have plans to change that? No, we don’t. We have a really successful model that has shown nice, steady, consistent growth. We’re going to continue on this path because it’s been working really well for us.
AF: One growth area in the commercial fleet market is the vocational truck market. Are you looking to expand your truck portfolio?
Adamson: Yes, we are seeing growth in that segment with delivery companies; in particular, getting goods and services from a port to distribution center and the last-mile logistics. In fact, the majority of the vehicles in our portfolio are trucks.
In addition, Enterprise offers a truck rental service as well, which is particularly suited to providing seasonal and supplemental truck rentals. We think this gives us a competitive advantage because we’re able to go in and talk to these clients and provide the right advice on the best fleet for their needs.
AF: What are the future growth areas in the fleet-management business for Enterprise Fleet Management?
Adamson: What excites me the most about the fleet industry is there are so many opportunities for growth. There are so many vehicles out there that are still unmanaged from a fleet-management perspective. There’s growth in every industry, which is really exciting because if one industry underperforms, our business still grows because we are so diversified.
As I mentioned, most of the vehicles that are owned by commercial fleets are unmanaged.
Reimbursement fleets are also a big opportunity. State and local government is another area where we’ve grown a lot over the past several years. The average age of fleets for state and local governments is 10- to 11-years old. We can really help them.
AF: Enterprise has introduced a fleet-manager portal. Could you explain its operation and the feedback you’ve received from your client base?
Adamson: The feedback has been very positive from our customers. We’ve listened to them and added the access to the fleet system they wanted. We’ve had new clients say our technology and our website are better than what they experienced if they were with a competitor before. We feel great we’re delivering the service and it’s competitive.
There’s more information on the website that customers want, such as parking violations and citations. We’re going to continue enhancing the site in a number of ways, with providing more document management and self-service features being at the top of the list.
AF: Could you talk about your Auto Integrate system on the maintenance management side?
Adamson: Auto Integrate is great because we’re able to reduce driver downtime. With Auto Integrate we can set pre-approval limits. We’re able to liaise back and forth in real-time with our repair shops in a more efficient way to reduce driver downtime.
For the shops, we integrate them into our payment system. The shop can submit an invoice to us. They’re paid the next day, and that invoice is available on the customer website the next day as well. A primary fleet contact can see the invoice for a job that was completed yesterday on their website today. It’s a huge feature.
We want vendors to think of us as their favorite FMC, and they’re not going to think that way if they feel that we’re not paying the invoice quickly. But if we don’t get the bill then we can’t pay it. Auto Integrate provides real-time information we can give our customers access to.
AF: Can you talk about your mobile application?
Adamson: We just launched our newest version of the mobile app, which came out in July. We’re again trying to deliver more content to the app that will help engage the driver. For example, our maintenance card is available on the app and what’s nice about that is it can be updated at any time. If you swap vehicles, the physical maintenance card doesn’t need to be in the vehicle.
And you have a new maintenance card for that new vehicle.
What we need more than anything to help manage a fleet is accurate mileage information. Telematics provides mileage, but not all of our clients take advantage of our telematics product. By getting more drivers on this app, it gives us a better ability to get more accurate mileage, so we can provide a more complete fleet-management offering for our customers. It’s the most important thing we could ever collect from them.
AF: How are you looking to implement data analytics in your fleet-management services?
Adamson: We’ve invested heavily in what we call our Fleet Planning Toolkit, which brings all this data together in a very robust way. Our Fleet Planning Toolkit allows us to continue to offer the best advice we possibly can for our customers regarding total cost of ownership, identifying the right time to replace a vehicle, client review, and things like that.
We can compare against a variety of different types of holding patterns, different vehicles, and different acquisition strategies. Maybe they’re currently reimbursing drivers. Our sales team can sit alongside our customers and walk through TCO right there with them. We have invested a lot in that technology and we’re bringing it to our customers.
AF: Enterprise has substantial financial resources. You’ve made major acquisitions in the daily rental industry with National and Alamo. With the consolidation occurring in the FMC market, does Enterprise have an appetite to acquire another fleet management company?
Adamson: My feeling is you never say never. We’ve never purchased another fleet-management company. As you say, we definitely have made acquisitions on the car rental side.
In order for us to make an acquisition, it would have to be the right strategic fit that would help enhance our offering for our clients, and not distract from what we’re doing right now. We found that strategic fit on the Enterprise acquisition of Vanguard, which included the brands of Alamo and National. So we would take a look at any acquisition target, but we’re not actively seeking fleet management targets right now.
AF: Enterprise Fleet Management doesn’t have a presence in Europe. Might that change in the future?
Adamson: Again, I think it’s not something that we’re specifically looking at this moment in time. Is it a possibility? Sure. Enterprise has a phenomenal car rental network over there that could help support a fleet management business in a fantastic way. But right now, we’re focusing on the markets we operate in, the U.S. and Canada, because there’s so much opportunity here.
AF: How large is your Canadian portfolio?
Adamson: It is approximately 6,500 vehicles and growing. We have two offices in Canada. One in Toronto and the other in Calgary, Alberta, mostly serving companies in the oil patch industry.
AF: What are your initiatives to expand your government fleet business?
Adamson: There is continued growth in that area. We have such a great local presence with state and local governments. We’re there in market, and we see continued fantastic opportunity. We gained a lot of referrals from our satisfied clients right now that are operating state and local government fleets. The plans are for continued growth in those areas by offering both funding services and fleet management services.
AF: What is the name of your ridesharing affiliate?
Adamson: Enterprise Rideshare is an alternative commuting solution which has become one of the largest vanpool operations in the nation. We’ve been in that business for a very long time. We recently acquired vRide to expand in that market. When you combine vRide and Enterprise Rideshare, we are the fourth largest U.S. public transportation provider in passenger miles.
AF: One of the areas everybody talks about is autonomous vehicles. What are your thoughts?
Adamson: I think fully autonomous vehicles are still a ways down the road. There’s a lot of non-autonomous vehicles that are on the road now that have to be dealt with first. It’s going to be an evolution to get there. Will there be a sharing component of autonomous vehicle? I think so. That makes perfect sense.
Enterprise is perfectly suited to help service and support an autonomous fleet because of our reach. We have more than 6,400 locations in the U.S. on the car rental side. Those facilities are able to charge vehicles if we need to, or clean vehicles if they need to, serve as distribution centers to take them into the shop. We’re making investments across the board to make sure wherever the future of mobility goes we’ll be relevant in that space.