Matt Dyer marks his one-year anniversary as president and CEO of LeasePlan USA, a fleet management company headquartered in Alpharetta, Ga. He assumed this position on Jan. 1. Dyer previously served as the managing director for LeasePlan International and the CEO of LeasePlan UK, and brought more than 20 years of experience working for the fleet management company.
Recently, Automotive Fleet spoke with Dyer on a variety of topics to get an update on the company's Customer First program, its technology roadmap for digital transformation, and the other wide-ranging initiatives being launched by the fleet management company.
Here's what Dyer told us:
Automotive Fleet: As January 2020 marks your one-year anniversary as CEO and president of LeasePlan USA, what is your assessment of your first year? What were your goals in the first 12 months?
Matt Dyer: I have truly enjoyed getting my arms around all the U.S. market has to offer. One of my first objectives when I landed at LeasePlan USA last January was to assure we had a sense of ownership from employees to lead the business in the direction we want it to go. This started with empowering each employee to put the customer first and assuring we had a culture and values in place to communicate this mission across the organization.
From there, our Customer First program was born. This initiative – one of my key goals – is all about improving the driver and fleet manager experience, and we’re already making good progress. It is just astounding to see the team members rally around putting the customer first. And it’s out of this momentum that our customer wins with our innovative initiatives. From new, intelligent communication programs that enhance how we engage with drivers to improving service levels, to leveraging data to provide more meaningful information to drivers along the way.
I am pleased to see our Customer First program already paying off for clients. In one use case, as we look to improve the new vehicle delivery process, we’re seeing a significant reduction in the time it takes to deliver a vehicle once it arrives at the dealership.
As you can see, this focus on a more digital and user-friendly customer experience is a top initiative. This carries over into product innovation as well. Fleet managers in the U.S. have huge opportunities to leverage the rapidly evolving benefits of technology coupled with connected vehicle services to deliver data-driven dividends for their organizations. I am extremely proud to see the transformation our team has led to provide flexible, cost-effective solutions that are integrated to provide 360-degree views of overall fleet performance and driver behavior.
Quite honestly, there have been many achievements in the short span of one year. As far as an assessment goes, my take is that we have an incredibly talented team here at LeasePlan USA who care deeply about our customers’ success. We are uniquely positioned to provide flexible leasing solutions, and our robust consulting program enables our clients to maximize their fleet budgets. Truly, our global service offerings far outweigh any other solution.
AF: In the next 12 months, what are your short-term and long-term goals to grow the LeasePlan USA portfolio? How will LeasePlan USA differentiate itself from its competitors in the marketplace?
Dyer: As with any year, improving the service we provide our customers and drivers is our first and foremost priority. Putting the customer first — and at the heart of everything we do — is a mantra at LeasePlan, and it’s really something that I believe sets us apart from our competitors.
Ultimately, we’ll continue to add value and deliver advice that helps our customers improve their business, and one of the key ways in which we’ll do this is to focus on our technological roadmap and our digital transformation. As part of this initiative we’ll continue to invest heavily in revolutionary technologies. LeasePlan is making fleet exciting again, and we’ll continue to offer the most agile leasing solutions and our out-of-the-box consultative services. We’re not your typical FMC in that respect.
We also want to grow across all our key sectors: Corporate, International, Truck, SME, and Network. As for the long-term, we’re pushing hard to make sure we’re prepared in this new technological landscape for our clients. Flexible mobility services and complete digital sustainability will soon be expected of everyone in this industry, so we’re making sure in 2020 that we’re ahead of the curve and that we’re positioned as the go-to experts.
AF: What is LeasePlan’s industry-wide outlook for the U.S. commercial fleet market for 2020 and beyond?
Dyer: We view the U.S. fleet market positively as there are great opportunities ahead. It’s also an important element of LeasePlan’s overall country network and crucial for our leadership role in the international segment. Though there are a growing number of economic clouds that we may have to navigate, LeasePlan is very well placed to support our customers and collaborate with our key suppliers moving into 2020 and beyond.
This is also a transformational era for transportation. Key decision makers are moving fleet strategy from the bottom line to the top line, and as more customers are looking to outsource and get support for key administrative areas of their fleet, LeasePlan can step in to help. Our ‘As-a-service’ offerings are going to revolutionize the way we do business, but we’ll always treasure the direct, personal connections we have with our clients.
AF: What are LeasePlan’s initiatives in meeting the needs of its U.S. headquartered multinational clients? What role can LeasePlan USA play in helping to streamline governance of multinational fleet operations and to harmonize the services LeasePlan offers on an international level?
Dyer: Having previously been managing director of LeasePlan International, I can tell you from experience that the success of global relationships comes from having great relationships in place at both a country and an international level. The first job, therefore, is to deliver a great service on a country basis for our customers.
We then need to add value at both the global and local levels through reporting, consultancy, support for fleet policy improvements, OEM selection and new mobility and sustainability solutions when the time is right. Our knowledge on the markets in which we operate through wholly-owned LeasePlan entities is crucial given that similarities and differences clearly exist.
Also, the relationships that we have with our LeasePlan colleagues supporting international clients in other countries helps us to provide the right insight, at the right time.
AF: Your prior experience as CEO of LeasePlan UK focused on leading key initiatives that put the customer first. What initiatives do you have in place to optimize and enhance the client experience at LeasePlan USA? What additional initiatives will you implement to further enhance the customer experience and customer satisfaction?
Dyer: I’m glad you asked about this because customer satisfaction is a real passion of mine – and as I’ve already said I truly believe that LeasePlan differentiates itself in this area. We’re always looking to improve our products and services for our customers and drivers, and there’s a strong focus on this initiative through our Customer First program.
We’ve been working hard to identify key customer processes and to improve them across the business, developing and improving important customer tools such as the My LeasePlan app and ePlan. Developing our digital journey and digital touch points is critical as we are seeing that a growing percent of our clients and drivers prefer to interact with us almost exclusively through these channels.
But we can’t be complacent. To continue being able to provide a top-notch service delivery, we are implementing a number of exciting initiatives, along with some key appointments within the leadership team. I’m pleased to now have Loni Metter as senior vice president of client experience. Loni and her team are committed to delivering industry-best service, listening to client feedback, setting standards and monitoring performance and making improvements to service based on what matters most to our customers. We also have a keen focus on driving employee satisfaction with several new initiatives, and this is imperative because it starts from within.
AF: What new initiatives has LeasePlan USA implemented to assist clients in making their truck fleets more productive and cost-efficient?
Dyer: The application of our telematics solution and our predictive maintenance scheduling program have shown great results for our medium-, heavy-duty truck fleets.
Being able to visualize key data points and translate them into meaningful messaging for our clients to communicate to their drivers, has eliminated a lot of the guesswork for them. Now they know where to look to tighten up on productivity and cost-efficiency issues. We’re looking forward to extending our client participation in these services in 2020.
AF: LeasePlan foresees mobility solutions as the future of fleet management. How will this vision specifically manifest itself in commercial fleet applications?
Dyer: For any business-critical fleet we need to develop the capability to reduce and minimize vehicle off road time, because it’s immensely disruptive and costly. Any services, therefore, that support this and help us to reduce downtime, such as – Repair, Maintenance and Tire Management, Accident Management, extensive Safety solutions – are crucial. Second, we need to adapt flexible capabilities.
Modern business-critical fleets need different combinations of fleet and leasing solutions to work across short term project work through to long term needs. LeasePlan has the capability to meet this breadth of needs. Truly sustainable mobility is all about optimizing the use of data and adopting the right digital capability to enable clear decision making - decision making on powertrain, technology, and future fleet management for the right driver populations at the right time. Data and digital need to work hand in hand.
AF: How is the digital transformation progressing at LeasePlan USA? What’s been accomplished and what are the next steps to accelerate the rollout of digital solutions for your clients?
Dyer: We’ve made great inroads into our transformation journey in 2019, and our driver engagement studio has marked a huge leap forward for us. Ultimately, we’re aiming for the best user experience with the highest amount of automation possible.
Automating some of the more mundane tasks allows us to put human resources into more important touch-points, and allows us to have more meaningful interactions with our customers. Our intelligent engagement platform will really allow us to expand and scale moving forwards in 2020.
AF: How do you envision vehicle connectivity and new data-centric fleet applications impacting the future evolution of the fleet management industry and LeasePlan’s service offerings?
Dyer: Telematics has come a very long way already, but we’re seeing increased levels of interest from clients interested in taking advantage of these never before-seen fleet insights, that’s why we developed OneConnect. Preventive maintenance planning can be entirely data-driven versus still using a discomforting amount of guesswork based on relatively unscientific tracking methods. The occurrence of accidents will also be drastically reduced.
Being able to discover connections never considered before is just one facet of new total connected vehicle telematics systems, as our clients now stand to enjoy a much higher level of customer service.
The importance of big data backing up these new technologies can’t be understated, and we’re going to need to make sure that we have the capability to manage this data and reshape it in a way that enables us to provide the best value for our clients. Maintaining a device and data agnostic design approach is also going to be essential to our success in this environment.
AF: LeasePlan has embraced zero-emission vehicles and is one of the 10 founding members of the EV100 global initiative committed to accelerating the transition to EVs. As a charter member of the EV100 initiative, what are you doing to accelerate the adoption of EV fleet vehicles?
Dyer: Our role is to provide the right advice and data to identify what opportunities exist, while also recognizing that we’re here to support our customers’ businesses, so our recommendations have to make sense and be appropriate for the needs of the clients. We’re working closely with the OEMs to ensure we understand the pipeline of zero emission vehicles plus the expected volumes which will be needed for the U.S. fleet market.
Clearly, we also want to do our part and we will also pursue the right opportunities to transition our employee fleet to net zero emissions. This is a global initiative but it’s something we’re especially focused on here at LeasePlan USA. As our employee vehicles approach the renewal stage, for the appropriate driving patterns, we’re encouraging hybrid and EV adoption.