Formed in 2000, epyx set out to fill a gap in the automotive industry with its 1link technology product range that fast became an industry standard. The Great British Fleet event meets Marc Lees, head of business development, whose remit includes epyx and the FLEETCOR group of companies.
Fresh out of college, Lees joined Fraikin Truck Hire as a trainee sales executive, which just so happened to be located at the end of his road. He comments: “They liked my CV – and I grew to like them. I found the fast pace of change and customer interaction in the industry really enjoyable, and I still do.”
Liberated from his mother, Lees’ first car was the underrated Rover 214SEI, which he managed to quadruple the mileage on within the space of just a few months, despite not being sure whether he actually ever fully paid it off. Today, Lees drives a more business-orientated Audi A5 Sportback. However, he adds that he is “looking forward to a change in the new year, I’d love a Tesla Model 3 and hope my fleet team are reading this”, although a Ferrari 575 Maranello would suit him just fine, having first seen one in the Will Smith buddy-cop classic, Bad Boys.
Given the above, one might have thought Lees’ music tastes could sway towards R&B/hip-hop yet his daughter’s musicals prove too catchy not to join in on, even a long time after she’s left the vehicle, he adds. “When it’s my choice, I listen to the Infinite Monkey Cage, which I really enjoy laughing along to while learning facts I can drop into conversations later to seem intelligent.”
Lees has now been at epyx for eight years, and works across the FLEETCOR group, including Allstar Business Solutions.
What is epyx’s focus for 2019?
Allstar ServicePoint is still a relatively new product, so our focus is very much on business development. Last year, the number of transactions through the platform more than doubled to 28,000 and we expect that to grow to something like 45,000 in 2019. Things are moving quickly!
How much have you found the fleet sector is changing?
In terms of Allstar ServicePoint, which is powered by 1link technology, the product was very much developed in response to a demand that we saw from fleets to take control of their car and van service and maintenance spend. At epyx, we see this very much as part of a wider overall trend – technology is providing new opportunities for fleets of all sizes and all types to gather much greater amounts of data, to analyse it easily and effectively and then implement managerial strategies in response. It’s a very exciting time.
What’s keeping today’s fleet manager awake at night?
I see it very much as our job to provide solutions that help fleet managers sleep a little more easily. However, the truth is that we are going through a period where the industry faces a whole range of challenges – from the general instability caused by ongoing political uncertainty at a large scale level, through to sector-specific issues such as the lack of clarity surrounding company car taxation and the impact of PHEVs and EVs. However, I have been in the industry long enough to know that we have an excellent track record of resourceful organisations and individuals rising to challenges such as these. We’re a sector full of problem solvers.
How do you think the role of fleet managers, and the vehicles and tools at their disposal, might differ from today?
As someone who works for a technology company, I apologise in advance for introducing phrases such as AI and big data – but the truth is that they will have a big impact. In a decade, we will know much, much more about how vehicles and drivers are operating in the real world and have the tools to manage them ever-more effectively. This will free fleet managers to take an ever more strategic role.
What would you like to see change in that time to help the sector move forwards?
My main complaint is hopefully a short term one. The current uncertainty over company car taxation is stopping companies making essential strategic plans for the future over which cars to buy and how to operate them. It should have been sorted out some time ago.
What’s the one essential item you can’t live without, and why?
My company car. It’s funny – people in the fleet sector sometimes take their company cars for granted but it would literally be impossible to do my job without one. They are the tool that keeps UK businesses running effectively and efficiently. We should champion them more.
What’s in the pipeline from epyx/FLEETCOR in 2019?
A series of new, high-profile partnerships for Allstar ServicePoint – both with providers of new services and with companies looking to offer the product to their own customers.