In the dynamic world of fleet management, there is only one way for service providers to stay ahead of rapidly changing industry needs and that is to think like fleet managers.
So says Dr David Molapo, head of Fleet Management at Standard Bank who, together with his team of fleet management experts, employ several methods to stand in the shoes of fleet managers and to remain at the forefront of the industry.
Firstly, the Standard Bank Fleet Management team can essentially be described as a ‘fleet manager’ itself in that Standard Bank’s own corporate fleet of vehicles is probably one of South Africa’s most experimental fleets.
According to Molapo, nearly every fleet management service that Standard Bank offers – from its ECO2 Fleet carbon footprint measurement tool to its transaction authorisation system that curbs fuel card misuse – has been thoroughly tried and tested on the bank’s own fleet.
Secondly, Standard Bank Fleet Management is led by the needs of its fleet management clients. “We will, for example, pick up from a fleet client that some aspect of a reporting system is not really working for them. We then tailor a solution for the fleet and if it works, the innovation will often become a standard feature of our fleet management services,” says Molapo
As little as a few years ago, fleet managers worked relatively blindly without much information about what their drivers and vehicles were up to. Innovations had centred on generating the information that fleet managers needed. Since then, tracking, telematics and the IT revolution in banking have unleashed a tsunami of information that threatens to overwhelm fleet managers.
Lately, therefore, innovations in fleet management services tend to focus on finding better ways in which to package information – how to extract the most important facts automatically and flag these to fleet managers through the most user-friendly reporting systems.
A good example is Standard Bank Fleet Management’s transaction authorisation which it claims it has developed further than any other bank. Transaction authorisation was introduced to South African banking to curb fuel-card fraud by automatically declining transactions made with a card reported as stolen.
Standard Bank developed the technology further by setting up more than 30 different parameters to validate each fleet card transaction. If a driver tried to buy more fuel than the tank capacity of the vehicle linked to the card, for example, the transaction would be automatically declined. Today, says Molapo, Standard Bank’s fleet cards are subject to the least amount of transaction fraud among fleet card issuing banks.
At the same time, Standard Bank is constantly developing the reporting tools linked to transaction authorisation. Already, fleet managers can view, via a website, transactions made by their drivers as they happen and problematic transactions are flagged so that the fleet manager does not have to pore over reams of transactions to discover anomalies.
Another aspect of Standard Bank Fleet Management’s team wanting to ‘think like fleet managers’ an stay ahead of changing needs is its willingness to partner with other service providers to provide the most holistic service possible. The answer, says Molapo, is to form strategic partnerships with the best of each speciality service provider. In this way, Standard Bank Fleet Management has partnered with top roadside assistance services, driver-training services and telematics providers – among many others.
As much as Standard Bank stays in tune with the needs of fleet managers, it also keeps a close eye on developments in the transport industry through a full-time industry specialist. “Being a leader in this field means listening carefully to the needs of the client and being willing to innovate constantly,” says Molapo.
Standard Bank has obviously realised that its role in the trucking industry goes beyond the mere up-front financing of assets. Finding ways to add value over the lifetime of the asset is the way to go.