Our first Spotlight of 2020 focuses on Peter Mellor, operations director at vehicle refurbishment experts Smart Fleet Solutions.
How did you get into the fleet sector?
I started working in vehicle rental, then HGV contract hire before working for a provider of OEM outsource solutions across multiple sectors. This lead me to move into the fleet solution sector where a strong emphasis on end of life services has proved to be a varied and exciting environment.
What is your current role and what are your responsibilities?
As operations director of Smart Fleet Solutions I am responsible for our four operational sites, IT and client services. I work alongside our MD developing our commercial proposition and customer offering. We work closely with the major fleet operators, rental companies and manufacturers to unlock the value of every vehicle being de-fleeted through a range of services including vehicle inspections and imaging, refurbishment and repair. My main responsibility is to constantly challenge the status quo to deliver tangible value to our customers by creating and implementing smarter ways of working.
What one aspect of the fleet industry would you change if you were able to go back in time?
The lack of skilled technicians is a key failing in our particular sector of the fleet market. If I could change one thing it would be to go back in time and work with schools and colleges to present the vehicle repair and refurbishment industry as an exciting career to pursue: skilled technicians have skills for life, the ability to work anywhere in the world, long term job security and good rates of pay so a great career choice to explore. The industry is working hard now to rebrand its offering and will need to continue to do so over the coming years. At Smart Fleet Solutions, we don’t just offer jobs, but also careers with opportunities for promotion and progression. We invest in our people at all stages of their working lives, from apprenticeships and trainee programmes to our commitment to continual professional development.
We also help our people develop their management and coaching skills too, to ensure we have well managed and highly motivated teams working as efficiently and effectively as possible on behalf of our customers.
Our people also benefit from market-leading working conditions, including a strong emphasis on health and safety, competitive rates of pay and achievable team bonuses.
What is your company’s focus for 2019?
Growth and diversification. We offer an end to end solution to our customers from new car PDI to the disposal of the vehicle, all backed by great digital solutions and a large, robust physical infrastructure. This unique combination drives our smart way of working which benefits all company sizes and sectors within the fleet industry.
What’s in the pipeline for your company in the future?
Our recent move into offering an end to end solution for fleet operators and owners has enabled us to give our clients the smartest service possible across their businesses. Our expertise extends from traditional petrol and diesel cars to the new generation of hybrid and electric vehicles and from wheelchair accessible cars to vans so we are able to deliver high quality and cost effective solutions across the board. We will continue to innovate, challenge our own and the wider industry working practices and offer great value to our customers.
What are the key trends to look out for in fleet?
The growth of PCP and the future change to car ownership will be a key trend we all must recognise and adapt our working practices accordingly. Younger generations are much more open to sharing mobility, wanting a more flexible on-demand service. The growth of car sharing across Europe and in the UK will potentially change the make up of the new and used car market.
Given the current uncertainty from government, what can fleets do to mitigate this?
At the moment it is a case of ensuring continuity of supply regardless of what’s happening in Westminster: this varies in complexity for different sectors and organisations but everyone has a part to play. Ultimately, we know that the fleet industry will continue to operate and will adapt to whatever scenario plays out.
In the short 5-10 year term, what do you see changing in the fleet world?
For our sector, keeping up with the rapid innovation for OEMs and supporting the drive to reduce whole life costs and maximise digital solutions for new cars, repair and remarketing will be a key change and one we all must keep up with and manage our businesses accordingly.
Imagine it’s 2040: how do you see the fleet world?
The industry is in an unprecedented period of change and the drive to do things differently perfectly suits the ethos at Smart Fleet Solutions. The 2040 market will potentially be unrecognisable in terms of the type of vehicles but the vehicle life cycle will be similar, it will just be the journey that is different.
What are your thoughts on electrification, an opportunity or a red herring?
This remains to be seen, but for us we have not seen the influx that perhaps we anticipated a couple of years ago. However, with further changes to BiK and car ownership we are anticipating growth in this sector over the coming years. I do not think electric will be the only new technology/alternative technology to disrupt the market. As new generations begin assessing their mobility needs and the drive to protect the environment grows further, this is an area that will continue to evolve as manufacturers continue to innovate.
Come and speak to Smart Fleet Solutions to find out how they can help your fleet, on stand E6 at the Great British Fleet Event 2020, taking place on 30 January 2020 at Novotel London West in Hammersmith.