Q&A – Marc Lafferty, chief revenue officer, EDAM Group
Marc Lafferty, chief revenue officer at credit hire company EDAM Group, on fleet’s role in its expansion plans and how the industry can learn plenty from the glass services sector.
What is EDAM Group, and what services does it offer?
EDAM Group has been around for about 12 years, it was set up by two men, the Bellamy brothers, with four vehicles. They are still majority shareholders, and have grown the group as it is today; a £55m business with around 1,500 vehicles in fleet, which we own.
A number of our competitors adopt a leasing model, but we believe an ownership model is a better way to go, because we think it’s more cost-effective. It gives us a lot more flexibility – we have agreements with individual manufacturers, we can bring new capacity into our fleet very quickly, and we manage our own remarketing of the vehicles through our network. It gives us the ability to manage the size of our fleet, our utilisation, the mix of vehicles and to respond to our partners’ needs. We are growing rapidly, and that allows us to build our fleet in a manageable way.
What’s the scale of the growth, and is the credit hire sector growing?
Last year we resolved to have a year of consolidation. We’ve grown nearly 20%, in almost a no-growth year, while we made sure we had the foundations in place for future growth. We’ve got an ambition to double the size of our business – the credit hire opportunities that we’re managing on behalf of our partners – over the next three years. I’m responsible for delivering that for the business.
The sector is growing a little, but it’s not about us maintaining share, it’s about us starting to acquire more business in slightly different markets. For us, around fleet, insurance and broker markets. I think fleet will be a third of that growth. We’ve got great engagements in that space and more to come, we’re very excited about it.
What are the big challenges facing the credit hire sector?
I think the way in which fleet companies work with accident management companies is evolving. A number of them are recognising the benefits of dealing directly with contract hire. At the small end of the scale you want someone to take away all the service issues, the maintenance etcetera.
But I think, increasingly, the larger fleet companies are realising credit hire is a topic in itself and they can carve out and deal directly with a provider. Commercially they can benefit, and they’re doing is sureing the quality of engagement with the driver, which is increasingly important. We believe that’s where we fit in.
How is accident management changing?
There are some IT and technology issues around in-house systems for managing the workflow and the process. I don’t think there’s a radical step change happening, but there are always systems coming out which are more complete and comprehensive in helping us manage that. We’ve got our own in-house system which we’ve developed over a long period of time, which is customised to support us and our partners. Fleet partners often want a white label service, they want the engagement with the driver to happen over their preferences in terms of messaging. Because ours is an in-house system, and we have our own resource to customise it, we can be flexible and agile to customise that for our partners – lease companies and fleet management companies – which is an advantage.
Coming from roles in the glass services sector, what can the credit hire market learn?
The expectation around glass is higher than for credit hire. We were used to dealing with net promotor score, NPS, where you ask the end customer if they’ll recommend us to friends and colleagues on a score of 0-10. In EDAM we’ve adopted a similar metric, but nobody else uses it in the industry.
I’m interested to see whether we can get two of our competitors to get on the same square so we can have a like for like comparison. Why aren’t fleets more demanding of credit hire companies? We think they should be. We’d be delighted to compete in a more demanding environment as that’s where we position ourselves.