By FMW Editorial Staff
In October 2021, Wheels and Donlen merged to become a mobility leading provider of financing and fleet management solutions.
Now, having merged with LeasePlan USA in December 2022, the company is poised for continued success with a foundation of 180 years of fleet experience and four guiding principles.
In an interview, Shlomo Crandus, CEO, shared his thoughts about the foundation for launching the newly-expanded company: “Each of the three companies already shared many of the values and proven business practices to help them lead in the fleet industry for many years. Together, we can build on these similarities and continue to learn and innovate through our differences.”
Four Key Principles
According to Crandus, each company brings to the table dedicated employees who share four key principles, the first of which is the focus on the client above all else. “Clients are at the heart of everything that we do. Each of our companies has existed for decades because our clients trust us, and we’re here to help our clients achieve success,” he explains.
The second principle is the shared dedication to ethics and integrity. As the companies come together, they’re dedicated to holding themselves accountable for their actions and their behaviors. This sometimes means telling clients when they disagree with them and working together to find a solution. It also means admitting when they’re wrong, correcting errors and telling the truth at all times. “Acting with integrity requires us to take a long-term view and invest in the business,” says Crandus, “because we hold ourselves out as a company that has what our clients need. We need to make sure that we’re actually doing the things internally that we need to do to ensure what we’re saying is true.”
The third principle guiding the companies is their internal community. Wheels Donlen LeasePlan brings together a united community of friendly, productive, and high-performing employees all open to new ideas and different points of view. “We’re already getting good at challenging each other, but in a productive way where the focus is on getting great results,” says Crandus. “Our expectations are aligned with regard to ethics and accountability. We all place a premium on delivering results with a friendly and collaborative approach. We enjoy working with clients. We celebrate client success, we value our client relationships, and our clients value our people.”
The last principle that guides Wheels Donlen LeasePlan is the desire to foster an environment of innovation. This is especially important as the companies bring together their own ideas, products, and thinking to market. The goal of their merger is to enhance their ability to meet client needs rather than choose a single way of doing things. Wheels was originally known for its focus on large fleets, although it also had a lot of small clients. Donlen had large and middle market fleets, but was really excellent in the middle market business.
LeasePlan came to the market with a focus on global, and in recent years has delivered tremendous innovation in technology, the use of AI, and last mile delivery. These three wells of experience will allow the newly merged company to be even more flexible and provide different services to different clients based on their individual needs.
Serving Clients Across the Globe
In the short term, Wheels Donlen LeasePlan will serve global clients through their global alliance with ALD while LeasePlan will serve global clients through a cooperation agreement with LeasePlan Corporation. “We have a very close relationship with ALD,” says Crandus, “and our combination with LeasePlan USA will make the relationship even stronger and more collaborative for clients. Especially after ALD completes their acquisition of LeasePlan Corp, which we believe will be in the first quarter of 2023. At that point, we’ll work together with ALD to make changes that are appropriate in how we serve global clients, and we’ll have over 4 million vehicles served across 59 countries.”
In North America, Wheels Donlen LeasePlan will be able to expand their product range across their client portfolio. Their long-term vision is around developing customer journeys and using technology and connected vehicle data to take the experience to the next level.
By combining connected vehicle data with the data they get from other sources, they can help clients run safer and more productive fleets with smarter routing. The increased scale will give them access to even more data and brand new tools that didn’t exist just a few years ago.
Enhancing the Customer Experience
As Wheels Donlen LeasePlan integrates, employees have to understand the unique approaches and fleet thinking at each company. “We have been and will continue to be super respectful of the special features that we’ve created at each of our companies for our clients,” says Crandus. “Our goal is to build on these and not to lose them.”
Not only will employees be able to learn from each other in order to gain new approaches to clients, but the company has also greatly expanded the size of its managed fleet. Wheels Donlen LeasePlan finances around 450,000 vehicles, services 800,000 vehicles, and will own vehicle assets of over $7 billion.
However, even with the increased size, the company plans to keep their client-centric focus. “The client should feel like every client is the only client,” says Crandus. He continues by saying, “That’s true for a 25-vehicle fleet, and it should also be true for a 50,000-vehicle fleet. But in order to do that, you have to have a different approach for each fleet and understand what their needs really are.”
To stay at the forefront of corporate mobility solutions, Wheels Donlen LeasePlan is focusing on understanding the changing needs in the industry. While most fleets are focusing on electrification, not all fleets have begun the process. For the clients tackling electrification, they offer services including predictive analytics and different ways to address mobility (which can include reimbursement). They even provide services for clients who own their own fleets.
Undergoing the Integration Process
According to Crandus, the focus for every employee is going to be on serving clients. As the company integrates, they plan on getting the right answers for clients and investing in technology rather than cutting people. The merger not only gives Wheels Donlen LeasePlan three times the talent, but it also gives them access to more money to invest in the restructuring process. The company has a parent that wants to invest in the business, giving them the ability to serve clients and grow their capabilities and their business.
So, what does this mean for current clients of Wheels Donlen LeasePlan? “In the short-term, there’s not going to be a lot of disruption or change for our clients because we’re taking a measured approach towards integration,” says Crandus. “Our focus is really on coming through for clients and giving them what they’re used to, but also new capabilities that they’re going to need. None of our clients would be happy if we were static, so if we are going to change, we’re going to move forward in a way that isn’t disruptive. What our clients won’t see is the work going on in the background, looking at new technologies and products as we run our integration effort.”