Janet Entwistle, BT Fleet: “controlled, compliant, managed solution”The high-end fleet
manager is looking for new market segments to exploit. Antonio
Fabrizio reports.


BT Fleet is seven years old. When a
gap in the market for large corporate fleet provision was spotted,
back in 2003, the in-house fleet manager was spun-off as a separate
business from its parent BT Group.

Now the fleet provider is taking
the plunge into the SME sector, as it bids to diversify beyond its
traditional large corporate market.

Since 2003 it has amassed an
impressive rota of clients, including large utility companies such
as E.ON, National Grid and Thames Water, security services provider
G4S, and the AA, with which it has renewed fleet management and
maintenance contracts for the third time.

BT Fleet has tripled its volume of
business during the past five years, and has experienced
uninterrupted growth since it took its current form.

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Will it be able to replicate this
success in the SME sector?

The company’s specialist skill is
in managing fleet for companies whose operations critically depend
on having vehicles on the road.

Janet Entwistle, managing director
of BT Fleet, says: “We provide a very controlled, compliant and
heavily managed solution to those organisations whose vehicles are
mission critical to their main business, as they enable them to
deliver services to their own customers.

“In those cases, what matters more
than anything is keeping the vehicles operational, maximising the
utilisation of the fleet and reducing downtime.”

Back in 2003, fleet provision
tended to be quite basic.

“The industry has developed since,
but at that time most providers had a fairly commodity standard
contract hire solution, which was not tailored for some of the
people who had a specialist fleet,” Entwistle says.


BT Fleet: At a glanceExcelling in complexity

By developing a service to support
its own business needs, BT Fleet became expert in delivering
service solutions involving complex vehicles.

“We focus on the value-added
solutions, rather than on the lower price, simpler solutions. We
continue to grow and we are likely to diversify in terms of market
and customer sectors,” Entwistle says.

The company has traditionally
focused on clients for whom having a vehicle dormant may result in
a loss of more than £1,000 a day. Of the 65,000 vehicles it
manages, the majority, about 55,000, are commercial vehicles, from
car derived vans through to large goods vehicles. The remaining
10,000 are cars.

BT Fleet is not a funder.

“We see funding as a commodity, and
therefore we think customers should get the money where it is
cheapest for them, and get the service from a service provider,”
Entwistle says.

“Not everybody will need a heavily
managed service solution in the way that we provide it.”

Its clients are funded by a variety
of sources. E.ON, for example, finances its assets with Lex
Autolease. Some clients own the assets.

“If we have a customer who wants
our service solution but is also looking for funding, we work with
them to make that happen,” Entwistle says.

One important aspect of the
business is its network of 62 garages situated across the UK. A
larger network of 500 garages is also available for use by BT

Another advantage is its software
system. The core fleet management technology, provided by Bynx, has
been developed with additional features.

“We look to the market depending on
the needs of our customers. If the market can provide something
that is fit for purpose, then we will integrate that with our
existing systems,” Entwistle says.

BT Fleet now hopes to pick up
business as more companies consider outsourcing their vehicle

“In the next years there will be
more outsourcing, as businesses look to focus on their core
business,” Entwistle adds.

“Legislation and compliance issues
also mean that companies will need to be very confident if they are
to manage fleet themselves.”

The company also hopes to take
advantage of any polarisation that may occur in the market.

“There will be people who need a
simple solution, and who will try to drive prices down,” Entwistle

“On the other hand, there will be
people in need of more complex solutions, looking for value added

BT Fleet is poised and ready to make the most of any such
opportunities ahead.