Chevin has enjoyed some significant growth over the past few years. Tell us about it.
Over the past few years, Chevin has been working at expanding our global footprint. We have opened offices in Australia, Europe and expanded into Ireland, as well as continued to expand our operations in North America. We continue to add clients primarily in the commercial and corporate space as well as large public sector and federal clients.
For Chevin, most of the interesting growth has occurred across the breadth of operations that we’ve been working with; we’re no longer just working in workshop and maintenance environments. We’re actually providing technology that helps our clients manage their global fleet needs. Whether it is their global needs across Europe, Asia and the Americas, or across North America; whether our clients have multiple business and operating units; or even in cities or counties where the fleet operation may be dealing with different agencies or customers, using our enterprise fleet management information systems, these clients are now using our technology to more effectively manage their diverse fleet operations using real time information rather than instinct.
What are you finding that your clients need the most?
For us, it is really not about the technology that matters most to progressive fleet managers. It’s really more about helping fleets understand how to better leverage information to effect change within their organization. It’s interesting to me that when you look at a public sector organization with an internal workshop, they may have fifteen mechanics that might be working two shifts. All of the fleet software providers deliver technology to help these organizations create work orders and manage the productivity of the workshop. More than anything else, what is generated when enabling workshop management with a fleet system is information and reams of data.
Where clients come to us for help is helping them understand what to do with all of this data. How can they use this data to make more effective business decisions – it’s not just about providing the mechanics with practical functionality to create a work order – it’s what to do with that data once you have it. So we’re working with organizations to help them generate benchmarks, generate key performance indicators and metrics that they can use to assist their management team in making practical and meaningful changes within their business.
And what keeps them awake at night?
In talking with our clients, what keeps them awake at night is uncertainty, volatility and sustainability. For these fleet managers, uncertainty has to do with the performance of their business resulting in budgets that are being slashed right and left. It might be that the business is struggling to perform and meet profit expectations. How this uncertainty resolves itself in fleet is that these fleet managers are constantly under pressure to improve vehicle utilization, to “right size” the fleet, anything to reduce the uncertainty within their business.
When considering volatility, it can be rapidly rising fuel prices (and overspending your fuel budget); or residual values that are up one day and down the next. It can be the ever changing regulatory requirements that must be addressed or reacted to on a day to day basis.
Sustainability, of course, might pertain to an organization’s green fleet initiative. It could be downsizing the fleet, moving drivers into different vehicles with smaller displacement engines. These influences keeping our clients awake at night seem to be more of the tactical elements of managing their business.
What we try and do to help our clients more effectively manage their fleets within this ever shifting environment is to, as best as we can, understand their concerns and try and use our technology to help them address these specific needs. So instead of just helping our clients reconcile the countless vendor invoices that they need to process on a daily/ weekly basis, it’s more about uncovering the fundamental issue keeping them from being more efficient. Is it the sheer volume of payables that need to be processed, resulting in extra headcount? If that’s the case, we can use our technology to streamline payables processing and eliminate redundant manual processes. If the issue is the volatility of fuel prices, can we help our clients get fuel issue details quicker or in a more efficient manner allowing them to proactively manage where their excessive fuel spend originates from.
Rather than being overwhelmed with the massive quantity of data that’s available today; it’s helping our clients to more effectively impact the particular area of their business that’s creating stress. As I mentioned earlier, we’re playing more of a consultative role today. We’re using our technology to help influence change within an organization. In my mind, this is the most rewarding part of what we do. We can point to lots of real world situations where clients have come back to us and said, “Thank you’re your software has helped us accomplish “X”; using your software, we’re now able to address a lot of the uncertainty, the volatility and our mandated sustainability initiatives.”
Can you give me a real world example of a fleet that has had some issues and that you have been able to solve them?
Sure, we recently got a letter from a long-time client – a shipping company. They own container ships and they have 15 different ports around the world. Their situation was that equipment was coming into the yard that needed to be loaded onto a ship within a certain number of hours; a very small window of time to address a maintenance concern that might arise while that container is moving from the front gate of the port to actually being loaded onto the ship. What they needed was a way to inspect these containers quickly and efficiently and address any “out of service” situations immediately, but without bringing a piece of equipment into a workshop and tying it up.
We actually worked with them to deploy a wireless handheld device that effectively allows someone who knows nothing about maintenance to go up to a vehicle and scan the barcode so the device knows which vehicle they’re inspecting. The user then inputs temperature reading on the reefer unit and moves onto the next box. By integrating our technology into the client’s load management system, the handheld device knows what the temperature should be for the specific load and knows the load is out of specification and as a result, automatically notifies the maintenance department that container number X needs to be serviced.
As a result, the maintenance team can put someone on the repair right away to address the issue before the container gets loaded onto the ship. After all, once a container is loaded onto the ship, if the load is ice cream and the temperature is ten degrees too warm, the ice cream will be soup by the time it gets to its final destination.
We have other clients where we use our enterprise fleet management software to manage their drivers’ taxable benefits and imputed income requirements for their fleet of more than 10,000 vehicles. Their drivers are now reporting their weekly/monthly mileage in the system across hundreds of locations on a monthly basis. This client is using our software to manage all of these complex requirements including calculating the resulting taxable benefits and integrating this directly to payroll. Like many of our clients, they are using our technology to eliminate manpower and error prone, labor intensive process and delivering to their users a seamless end to end process. We do a lot of those types of things that are outside of the norm of the typical fleet management system providers.
What’s ahead at Chevin?
We’re spending a lot of time as well as committing a significant number of resources to develop the equivalent of an App Store at Chevin. Many of our clients have critical benchmarks and specific key performance indicators that meet their specific needs. The difficulty most software providers have is to take these unique key performance indicators and share them across clients that might operate in different industries or have a different fleet make up. We’re spending a significant amount of time developing ways to standardize these KPIs in such a way that our clients would be able share them.
We’re in the process of developing an online environment where clients under our Support Agreement will be able to go to our website and effectively download standardized benchmarks, key performance indicators, metrics and reports and easily install them themselves in their local version of our software, and then tweak these KPI’s for their individual needs. This capability is something we’re really excited about and was a direct result of our client user group meetings.
Ron Katz is the Vice President of North American Sales for Chevin Fleet Solutions, a global provider of Fleet Management Information Systems. With more than 30 years of fleet and maintenance management experience, Ron is responsible for Business Development, Marketing and strategic product development for Chevin’s suite of flexible enterprise fleet management information systems.