Mathilde Hillebrand, Chief Executive at Aficar Mobility, and Armand Bidaut, Chief Executive at Moveecar – Gefco recount their experience in a workshop led by Louis Ravel, business developer Notilus, for the FORUMDIMO 2021.
Car policy: a definition
What is a car policy? For Mathilde Hillebrand (Aficar), it covers a number of things, such as choice of vehicles, adaptation of models, choice of brands, and adjustments to be made for each business function. “In addition, the greening of the fleet is a current topic that affects many businesses, with the installation of recharging infrastructures. Aficar deals mainly with light, company, and heavy-goods vehicles and manages the car fleet on behalf of the customer.
Many hidden costs at the beginning of the contract
Vehicles delivery and return are often cited as two pain points by rental companies. Mismanaging renewals, deadlines, returns and loaner vehicles costs additional time, which impacts drivers’ productivity, especially since drivers are not supposed to deal with the administrative workload, and consequently get more stressed by it. Some customers ask for delivery and return at two different places, which can be difficult to coordinate as it requires the mobilization of 2 people on 2 cars and considerable time, usually half a day, to recover a vehicle.
What happens between the moment an order is taken and car delivery?
According to Armand Bidaut (Gefco), the beginning of a car’s life is often equated with the time of its delivery. However, it is everything that happens before that point, that makes or breaks the experience. Time is of the essence. As he explains: “The clock starts ticking the moment a car is manufactured, as it follows the production scheme set by selected partners, and goes through transport logistics, mechanical preparation, aesthetics, etc., before being fitted out as a utility vehicle. Often, as the deadline is nearing, we find the car has deviated from the schedule with a trip to a body shop just for a company logo or a carpet set. As the number of participants involved in the process (body shop, dealer, logistician…) increases, accessorization can become distracting and even jeopardize fast and large-scale production schemes. Ideally, these considerations should be integrated upstream to reduce the number of people who will work on the vehicle and speed up the delivery flow.”
For Mathilde Hillebrand, time-wasting processes should be avoided whenever possible, with the priority put on time-saving. The same goes for costs and stress.
Managing a wealth of information
Mathilde Hillebrand notes that there are many production schemes, constraints, and processes specific to each player. This means that data is collected in different formats, such as Excel sheets or paper form for delivery and/or return notes, and disorganized. The fleeter has to centralize it all, which requires business expertise, knowledge of the processes and the ecosystem, as well as efficient and integrative solutions. Notilus YourWay, our car fleet management software, efficiently relays information, optimizes processes to facilitate delivery from the moment order is taken and helps monitor them. Everything that revolves around the life of the vehicle is taken into account, including contracts and fuel cards. Today, Notilus helps us upload fuel information, register corresponding cards, and make sure that everything runs smoothly; we are also currently looking to integrate delivery and return notes in the tool. Further, it allows us to keep drivers informed and communicate with our various service providers.”
Solving issues such as upstream monitoring and traceability
For Armand Bidaut, adequate preparatory work reduces the number of operators involved in the production chain and accelerates it, which also cuts down on risks, damages, time, and money. The objective should be to create a supply chain upstream that integrates all the services provided by the different participants who may be in different places, including fitting out and accessorizing vehicles. Then, the car has to be delivered, and the more direct the delivery system is, the more it achieves in terms of simplicity, traceability and time-saving. Going through a car dealership to deliver the vehicle may lighten the administrative workload, as the ensuing paperwork is taken care of, but may not offer appropriate reception structure for professionals, and therefore be adapted for selling fleet vehicles to them: after all, it is not viable for drivers to invest half a day to just pick up a vehicle. For pick-up timing to be precisely coordinated, it is, therefore, necessary to go up the chain and find ways to deliver the new, fully-equipped vehicle directly from the logistics centre.
He explains: “Vehicle delivery entails both physical and administrative aspects, and requires of us the production of a delivery note. Today, many dealers entrust us with the delivery on their behalf of the car directly to the employee’s home or workplace, with a very tight schedule. It’s an à la carte service, that is developing rapidly (150 deliveries per day). We write off the delivery note and send it directly to the fleet manager, rental company, employee, and dealer. Our entire upstream processes are adjusted so that delivery is possible without a dealer acting as an intermediary.”
As a manager of a fleet of 3,000 cars, I have to renew 1/3 of my fleet and I can place mass orders. How can I do that?
For Mathilde Hillebrand, the logic behind the delivery and return of a vehicle are one and the same. Everything starts with the order and becomes simple as soon as management and forecast processes are implemented. At the end of the day, it just requires linking an order to a customer need, which may differ from one driver to another. If orders can be correctly anticipated and the right information transmitted, it is easy to ensure a good quality service. Delivery and return can be optimized through an efficient, innovative, and simple service.
A new joint offer between Aficar and Moveecar will propose their expertise in 3 areas: logistics, fleeter (order placement, follow-up, direction, information transmission to logistics), and a dedicated solution. In the case of a single location for vehicle delivery and return, the car will be picked up and taken to an intermediary expert centre, which allows the fleet manager to optimize the costs. Moveecar provides the information needed to decide whether to repair the car or not, and whether to return it as is, which presently cannot be done remotely. The return note is then amortized according to the final state of the vehicle. This is where return costs are optimized. The note is sent to the same parties as a new vehicle, except for the leaser – not necessarily the same one for a new or used vehicle – and, afterwards, the vehicle can go to a storage centre waiting for collection by the leaser. Sometimes a reconditioning centre can also act as a storage facility.
Mathilde Hillebrand continues: “Delivery and return notes are very important. If a vehicle is returned with one of the notes missing, the contract is not officially terminated, which impacts the rent. We guarantee customers to send the notes without fail. Thanks to Notilus and our API, we can centralize the operating modes from each customer, and integrate their data to track new and returned vehicles.”
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Questions from Internet users
During the workshop, several Internet users asked questions that we found relevant to write down.
How do I know when my vehicle will be delivered?
Armand Bidaut explains:
“As soon as your order is taken, it is processed in a single-track production chain, of which we control the duration, by reducing the number of operators involved. Production delay and progression can be tracked at each phase via a simple tool. The fleeter now knows how to relay relevant information (via an application, email, phone, platform) at any time. Our dealers estimate time saved until the delivery of a vehicle to the employee, to be around 3 to 4 weeks, which is substantial.”
Do suppliers, rental companies, and manufacturers also benefit from optimization and productivity thanks to this service?
The sooner a vehicle is added to the fleet, the sooner the leasing company will be able to start renting it. Similarly, the quicker a car is located and its condition is known, the sooner the leasing company will be able to resell it. Everyone wins, and the dealer will save time because he doesn’t have to review the car again. To make the process work, we take care of all the constraints of the hired supplier, leasing company, and dealer.
How long does car reconditioning take?
From the moment a car reaches a reconditioning centre and its condition is evaluated, the average delay is 5 to 7 working days, and depends on the spare parts and the brand. The car policy is essential in this respect because it assesses the feasibility and optimization of the used vehicle against its RV (residual value) at the end of the lease contract.
How is the condition of the vehicles and liability charges ensured after the return?
Armand Bidaut explains:
“We work in front of the employee with an application noting all the damage to the car, which improves traceability of responsibility since the person who comes to look for the car is not an expert and will only notice major defects. The real expertise takes place at the reconditioning centre and the first transfer of responsibility takes place at the return.”
In short: complementary know-how and centralized information are the keywords. A good tool reduces the time spent on management, has an impact on the overall cost of ownership of the fleet, and provides a quality service to the driver at the end of the process.
Our solution is dedicated to the moblity management. In addition to the expense reports management you can plan, book and track your business trips. It is also possible to manage your car fleet.