Q&A: Tim Porter of Lex Autolease
How are you finding business confidence in general?
Business confidence is pretty strong at the moment and we have been a beneficiary of that confidence, right from SMEs to large corporates. The growth in commercial vehicle registrations is strong and more businesses are looking to leasing to be the source for those vehicles.
You set out some ambitious growth targets for the next few years. Are you likely to hit them?
Our five year planning cycle set out in 2013 to early 2018 had the ambition to grow 100,000 units by then. We are on plan, having added 27,000 since early 2013. We have won some big fleet deals but obviously the renewal of the vehicles on those fleets takes time to come through. When they do we will see growth accelerate, in SMEs, large and mega fleets.
How is the SME market faring?
SMEs are very relevant to our growth and we have channels such as intermediaries, brokers and white label branded leasing within dealerships to help service that sector. We’ve done a number of specific things to support those businesses’ growth, and have effectively unpicked the proposition so they can be walked through every part of the process to help them understand exactly what they need.
What do you term “mega fleets”?
There are a few very large fleets of 5,000-plus vehicles and although we might not supply the vehicles to some of them as yet, they need quite a bespoke approach and we have been providing consultancy for a couple of years for things like costs, supply, funding and benchmark costing. Because of our size and the backing of the bank we can often provide a level of information about the market and economy that many cannot, to help them run their businesses more efficiently. It illustrates that we’re not just a supplier of cars and vans.
And what of 2015?
In the past year we have invested in a number of main fleet growth investments, in digital through our website and internal process efficiency, our new remarketing facility in Coventry where we sell some of our best stock direct to the public, and in the specialist market: building and supplying vehicles necessary to businesses, such as utility companies, needs.
Historically they have not leased these types of bespoke vehicles, but we have invested heavily in this area and it is proving popular. On top of that we have put in place detailed programmes on 24 hour/365 days a year repair and maintenance to support them. Although we are a very large leasing company, it is not just a volume game – it’s about treating every customer individually.