Operators of smaller fleets often spend more time focusing on growing and executing their business plan rather than actively managing vehicles. This results in fleet inefficiencies that could be addressed by third-party resources such as WEX, Inc., a large fuel card provider that also offers a telematics product and other resources.
We spoke with Jay Collins, the senior vice president and general manager of small fleet, as part of a recent visit to the company’s headquarters in South Portland, Maine, to understand the challenges of smaller fleets and how WEX is meeting their specific needs.
Business Fleet: How do small companies approach fleet compared to larger ones?
Jay Collins: In the small enterprise space, many of our customers don’t see themselves as fleet managers, but as business owners. We know from our data that they rarely think about fleet products, and therefore it’s critical that our solutions are simple and work well. Our small enterprise customers need this level of simplicity and effectiveness to free up time to focus on growing their business, pleasing their customers, and keeping their employees safe and on track.
BF: What technology excites you most in the fleet industry today?
Collins: Generally, I’m excited about mobility and savings. The seamless ability to do everything you need to do while you’re away from your office is increasingly becoming more important. Specifically, I’m excited about connected and self-driving cars. This opens a new world for small enterprise. I’m excited for the day when a contractor on a job site can focus on the job at hand, while his or her vehicle picks up materials and delivers them to another job site for a fee on its way back. That vehicle that was sitting unproductive has become very productive. But someone is going to have to pay for all of those interactions.
BF: What will be the most pressing challenge facing smaller fleet managers in 2019?
Collins: Staffing will continue to be a challenge and how hard it is to find and retain employees. We’re working on savings solutions that will extend to the off-the-clock employee to help with retention.
BF: How can a fleet manager reduce or eliminate fraud in his or her operations?
Collins: Fraud comes in many forms, and we have tools to address each. Whether it’s controls and alerts to avoid internal forms of fraud, or chip cards and best practice tips to avoid external compromise, we have answers. The most important factor is the customer’s willingness to diligently deploy these solutions. We’re really looking forward to the fraud mitigation benefits of mobile but that’s still emerging.
BF: What is your advice to small fleet managers looking to dive into the latest tech?
Collins: Make sure it adequately addresses the need. There’s a lot of really cool technology out there that can become a distraction and, unfortunately, will not produce the expected return on investment. Set out with a clear goal of what the solution should yield and measure it.
BF: How is WEX helping smaller businesses overcome barriers to entry?
Collins: Well, we’re a reliable source of working capital as they grow their business. That’s a great leveling of the playing field, when you can give a small business the same access to capital a large business will get. Our product suite and tools scale up and down. A small business can use any of the features or functionality of a large business if it needs it.
BF: Is WEX still considering offering a telematics product specific to smaller fleets?
Collins: Absolutely. Our telematics solutions for smaller businesses continue to evolve. It’s not necessarily about more features and functionality; it’s about focusing on the ones that resonate and making them more impactful and easier to use. We recognize that large and small fleets have very different needs. When seeking a telematics solution, larger fleets tend to prioritize safety, maintenance management, and the integration of fuel and telematics data across multiple platforms. Smaller businesses need visibility and insight into their fleet’s performance, but not at the expense of their time. They’re seeking easy-to-use mobile tools to keep track of their assets and call out inefficiencies within their fleet. Driver safety and accountability are top of mind.