The fleet industry is currently undergoing many changes, which are only expected to continue within the next three to five years. To prepare for the changing landscape, Donlen has continued to invest in a forward-thinking product roadmap that will prepare customers for trends such as Mobility as a Service, autonomous vehicles, and safety. With Donlen’s focus on the changing marketplace, Donlen has enhanced its brand to focus on the future of fleet.
“Now is an exciting time to be in fleet management,” said Tom Callahan, president of Donlen. “Donlen may have a new look, however, we will continue to focus on what we do best: provide our customers with attentive service, develop technology roadmaps for the short and long-term to stay ahead of emerging trends, and present comprehensive consulting insights and actionable recommendations to allow customers to achieve their operational goals.”
To learn more about Donlen’s vision of the future, AF recently interviewed Donlen President Tom Callahan.
AF: How will the “future of fleet” differ from the current landscape of the fleet industry?
Callahan: The fleet industry is in the midst of some very exciting changes right now. We are seeing a trend toward the “sharing economy,” in which automobiles and homes are being shared through services like Uber and Airbnb. This will begin to make its way to fleet, as there will be shared-asset mobility solutions for businesses, particularly for fleets with non-complex assets or utilization. Assets will be better utilized to optimize productivity and recover costs. While internal combustion engines will still be around for the near future, we do see vehicles migrating to all-electric vehicles, creating the need to develop programs and solutions around vehicle charging. As vehicles become more technologically advanced and migrate to electric platforms, vehicle maintenance will also shift and create distinct needs for service specialization and downtime tracking. Access to actionable data will be crucial for the success of the mobility manager in the future.
AF: Will the “future of fleet” change the Donlen business model? If so, how will it change?
Callahan: Donlen will continue to invest in innovation and the right people to deliver attentive customer service. Our product team will continue to look for ways to lead this transformation of fleet management to mobility management, but at the end of the day, our business model and our value proposition will still be focused on helping our clients — mobility fleet or otherwise — increase business and employee productivity and drive down costs for their companies.
One example of this is that we are working with OEMs to build a device agnostic telematics program that takes data from four different manufacturers and more than 10 different device models. We have customers on the program, and they love the quick integration, and the reduction of administrative time that comes with plug-in devices. As we start the New Year, Donlen will be undertaking an initiative to partner with additional automakers to increase built-in capabilities. The advantage for our customers is that our platform will support data coming in from OEMs, and we will be able to manage the data for them.
AF: What is Donlen doing and or what has been done to prepare for the future of fleet?
Callahan: Let’s talk a little bit about our product roadmap planning from a couple of years ago. As part of our strategy, our product team mapped out the megatrends that will impact fleets. We identified Mobility as a Service and autonomous, electric, connected and shared vehicles as trends that were quickly approaching on the horizon. With these insights in mind, our product experts developed our product and services roadmap that takes into consideration these shifts and we are now developing the next round of services that prepare our customers for the future. For example, we will be increasing synergies between Hertz and Donlen. Ride hailing created a new rental customer segment for Hertz. They’re leveraging that opportunity to build new relationships (with the ride-hailing companies), offer new products (a dedicated ride-hailing rental fleet) and together we are gaining early insight into how one aspect of the mobility industry is evolving. Whether it be ride-sharing, car-sharing or autonomous driving, one thing we know for sure is that these vehicles will need fleet management. This helps us develop solutions that prepare our customers for the future of fleet.
We will continue to identify trends that will impact fleet overall, and we ask ourselves, “Are we ready for these upcoming trends?”
AF: How are you preparing your employees for the future of fleet?
Callahan: We’ve started by proactively creating three-year product roadmaps for all of our products and solutions. One of the key components of the long-range planning toolkit is to envision what fleet will look like over the next three to five years, and ensure that Donlen’s systems, capabilities, and services are prepared to meet these changes. We collaborate with our Client Advisory Board, and validate our roadmaps, business objectives, and strategy with the group. We then cascade the vision and plans to all employees. Our learning and development team trains employees on all of our latest enhancements, as well as offers courses that help our valued employees stay current and prepared for the changes.
AF: Will the “future of fleet” create new positions and job classifications at Donlen? If yes, what are some examples?
Callahan: Developing technology has been one of our core pillars, and it’s only natural to keep investing in the people to help us grow. We know that there is an ever-increasing need to reduce costs, create efficiencies, and keep drivers productive while on the road. Mobile applications are one way to accomplish these objectives. This means that you need mobile app developers to create strong applications while still being easy to use.
This leads to the next area, user experience. “Easy to use” is a common phrase used to describe various applications. However, a better description is to create efficiencies by solving problems. We hire engineers that can not only develop tools to solve problems, but those employees are contributing to safer fleets.
With rapid improvements in technology and data growth, data science is a third area of job growth. Data tells a story, but if it’s not analyzed correctly, it can easily be fiction. The correct data needs to be used to create accurate predictions. These predictions provide fleets with an appropriate strategic plan. Technology is part of the equation, but data scientists are needed to properly utilize it.
As vehicles become more complex, new positions will need to be created in order to understand the servicing and engineering of these vehicles. Mobility and car-sharing experts and teams will need to be formed, and current teams surrounding data analytics and telematics will grow substantially as fleets rely more heavily on this data.
AF: Looking to the future, how would you describe Donlen’s business model and the services it will provide five years from now in the year 2023?
Callahan: Our business model will always be focused on our customers, and how to keep their drivers safe and give them the lowest cost per mile for their operations, whether that be measured in total cost of ownership or total cost of mobility. We will continue to embrace data and analytics and turn that data into actionable strategies to improve productivity. You will see more mobility offerings from Donlen, and our services will be enhanced to serve the emerging fleets that are expected to grow over the next few years.
Donlen Unveils a New Logo
One manifestation of Donlen’s rebranding is its new corporate logo, which retains the Donlen name with new brand colors to leverage the far-reaching brand awareness of its parent company, Hertz. The new brand will emphasize the unique value proposition Donlen has developed alongside Hertz, which allows it to provide vehicles daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly, preparing the company for emerging mobility trends.
AF: How will Donlen’s new brand complement the brand of its parent company, Hertz?
Callahan: Hertz is a very strong brand that is recognizable throughout the world, and especially as we work more closely with Hertz to address new mobility options, our updated brand gives us an edge as a member of the highly-reputable Hertz family of companies. Hertz has tremendous capabilities, data, and expertise in fleet buying, management, maintenance, and disposal, as well as customer services and ancillary sales. This fleet management expertise, coupled with our fleet management strengths, will be a competitive advantage.
AF: How will the new brand help you with global fleets?
Callahan: Global fleets need support throughout the world, and global fleet managers need coverage in the countries they operate in. Hertz is a recognized brand throughout the world, and aligning closer with Hertz will allow us to better serve global fleets. Through the partnership we have with Hertz, and in concert with our deep partnerships in Europe, Asia Pacific, South America, our partnership will be able to provide customer solutions to over 144 countries.
AF: How will your new brand complement your global partners?
Callahan: Along with the new brand rollout, we are emphasizing that Donlen’s clients are able to leverage our presence in 144 countries — more than any other FMC, by a large margin. It’s this “global accessibility” that is possible with one of the most recognizable brands, Hertz. Our global clients want to be able to leverage this enormous depth of coverage in order to provide true visibility for their entire fleet. Our partners recognize that global insights are key to the “new mobility” that see’s the consolidation of fleet management practices into a centralized model. Clients view coverage as more important than the number of units their FMC manages, and our partnerships, including the huge footprint that the Hertz brand can provide, go a long way toward providing the comprehensive global coverage fleets are looking for. Over the coming months, we will be announcing some very exciting advances in global fleet management that leverages this very strength.
AF: How are customers reacting to the new brand?
Callahan: The reactions have been very positive. We are being told that the new brand is refreshing and powerful. Our customers can see our connection to Hertz easier with the new brand. With the new black and yellow palette, our technology interfaces are very clean and streamlined. Our customers have been sharing good feedback and are supportive on the new brand.