PHH’s Global Alliance Transcends Borders

PHH recent­ly held its annu­al Fleet Round­table for its clients and sup­pli­er part­ners. How did you devel­op the agen­da for the event?

Prepa­ra­tions for our annu­al Fleet Round­table start almost as soon as we com­plete the pri­or year. We use infor­ma­tion from client sur­veys to find out what’s most impor­tant to them, we have our fin­ger on the pulse of hot fleet top­ics that peo­ple want to know more about, and we always try to bring some­thing new to the table that’s a step ahead of the mar­ket­place. We real­ly try to cre­ate an agen­da that has the right mix of pre­sent­ing new infor­ma­tion and giv­ing atten­dees the oppor­tu­ni­ty to inter­act and learn from each oth­er.

Our out­side speak­ers focus on broad­er issues that are rel­e­vant to our atten­dees as busi­ness man­agers and lead­ers. This year’s speak­er focused on change man­age­ment and over­com­ing chal­lenges.

We kept hear­ing, “Okay, PHH, you give us great data, you give us great ideas, we have these won­der­ful col­lab­o­ra­tive ses­sions where your exper­tise and our objec­tives come togeth­er but the hard­est part is then how to exe­cute it, how to achieve the results while nav­i­gat­ing our own orga­ni­za­tions.” We think that bring­ing change man­age­ment prin­ci­ples into play is an impor­tant part of that over­all recipe for suc­cess.

One of the keys to the Fleet Roundtable’s pop­u­lar­i­ty is that we bring peo­ple togeth­er and give them an oppor­tu­ni­ty to share ideas and get the ben­e­fit of each oth­ers’ expe­ri­ence — whether it’s fleet man­agers, pro­cure­ment man­agers, sup­pli­er part­ners, glob­al alliance mem­bers or PHH lead­ers.

Speak­ing of your glob­al alliance, what are the keys to suc­cess­ful glob­al fleet man­age­ment?

To imple­ment a suc­cess­ful process, we believe you need to take a step-by-step approach.

First of all, it’s impor­tant to help our clients get inven­to­ry infor­ma­tion and vis­i­bil­i­ty from across all the geo­graph­ic the­aters where they do busi­ness. That’s not an incon­se­quen­tial thing — it means pulling togeth­er infor­ma­tion from a vari­ety of sys­tems and a vari­ety of prac­tices and pro­grams.

Then we bring local mar­ket exper­tise into play. That is where we lever­age our part­ner­ships with Arval in Europe and the BRICT coun­tries (Brazil, Rus­sia, India, Chi­na and Turkey); with sgfleet in Aus­tralia and New Zealand and with Mareau­to in Ecuador, Colum­bia and Peru. We also have rela­tion­ships with FaciLeas­ing in Mex­i­co, Avis Fleet in South­ern Africa and Sum­it­o­mo Mit­sui in Japan and Thai­land.

Being able to bring data togeth­er with the local mar­ket exper­tise pro­vides a plat­form to share best prac­tices, not just from North Amer­i­ca but from each rel­e­vant coun­try. Every­one is look­ing for ulti­mate pol­i­cy har­mo­niza­tion and the oppor­tu­ni­ty to find and con­trol cost sav­ings, pur­chas­ing pow­er, staff and asset pro­duc­tiv­i­ty. But there are local mar­ket nuances that can­not be under­es­ti­mat­ed when it comes to change man­age­ment.

We find that bring­ing the infor­ma­tion, the con­ver­sa­tion and the exper­tise togeth­er makes it pos­si­ble to help our cus­tomers chart a mul­ti-year, mul­ti-step course toward achiev­ing the val­ue of glob­al fleet man­age­ment with­in their orga­ni­za­tions.

How does PHH sup­port glob­al fleets?

PHH often begins work­ing with a fleet man­ag­er who has inher­it­ed glob­al fleet respon­si­bil­i­ties. We pull data togeth­er to under­stand the cur­rent state of the fleet and then cre­ate an inven­to­ry of poli­cies and doc­u­ments.

Then we estab­lish how the client wants to work with us. For instance, for some of our clients, we build a glob­al account man­age­ment struc­ture that match­es their orga­ni­za­tion. They may have a sin­gle point of con­tact who inter­acts with a sin­gle point of con­tact at PHH. In some cas­es, the point of con­tact may not be based in the U.S. but in anoth­er coun­try where we have part­ner­ships with a vari­ety of alliance mem­bers. What­ev­er works best for that par­tic­u­lar client.

Then we match the client up with local mar­ket part­ners so they ben­e­fit from the glob­al over­sight, per­spec­tive and ana­lyt­ics that PHH Arval and our alliance part­ners can pro­vide — and also have the local knowl­edge to cus­tomize their pro­gram so it fits their needs.

We talk to a vari­ety of glob­al clients and our glob­al alliance part­ners to get a pulse check on what is going on in the glob­al fleet mar­ket­place. We hear cer­tain uni­ver­sal themes: cost man­age­ment, asset pro­duc­tiv­i­ty and uti­liza­tion, staff pro­duc­tiv­i­ty, and dri­ver com­pli­ance with pol­i­cy. It doesn’t mat­ter what lan­guage you speak or what cur­ren­cy you use, those fleet issues are true across the board. We also under­stand where the dif­fer­ences between coun­tries occur – such as tax­a­tion, envi­ron­men­tal stan­dards and CO2 emis­sions, vehi­cle sourc­ing and the types of vehi­cles that are appro­pri­ate for jobs.

Per­haps our great­est role is to facil­i­tate con­ver­sa­tions that tran­scend bor­ders. The dis­cus­sions cen­ter on oppor­tu­ni­ties for cen­tral­iza­tion, cost man­age­ment, pol­i­cy har­mo­niza­tion, glob­al ana­lyt­ics and report­ing – always under­stand­ing what needs to be coun­try spe­cif­ic and local mar­ket spe­cif­ic. That is real­ly the bal­ance that we try to strike with our clients.

What are some of the trends you are see­ing with glob­al fleets?

One major new trend we see evolv­ing is a change from just look­ing at a roll up of data or infor­ma­tion to real­ly under­stand­ing the big­ger pic­ture. For instance, how can poli­cies be har­mo­nized? What sourc­ing oppor­tu­ni­ties can we take advan­tage of? How can we enhance sav­ings by choos­ing com­mon sup­pli­ers across dif­fer­ent mar­kets? How can we engage our dri­vers to sup­port pol­i­cy and strate­gic goals? It’s that type of holis­tic out­look that can have a major impact on fleet results across glob­al com­pa­nies.

Is there any­thing in the works that is going to help glob­al fleet man­agers bet­ter man­age their fleets?

One of the things we’re work­ing on right now is an exten­sion of the Arval Ana­lyt­ics infor­ma­tion man­age­ment plat­form. We’ve moved beyond data aggre­ga­tion to data uti­liza­tion and busi­ness intel­li­gence, ensur­ing val­ue across the entire orga­ni­za­tion – from set­ting glob­al poli­cies to intro­duc­ing new con­cepts into new mar­kets.

The ben­e­fit of being part of an alliance that spans 40 coun­tries and has 2 mil­lion vehi­cles under man­age­ment is learn­ing more about what’s hap­pen­ing in those mar­kets. Each of the PHH Arval Glob­al Alliance mem­ber com­pa­nies can share real-life exam­ples of solu­tions being imple­ment­ed by clients to enhance rev­enue gen­er­a­tion, cost sav­ings and cus­tomer ser­vice, or imple­ment more effec­tive risk and com­pli­ance pro­grams. This shar­ing of infor­ma­tion, best prac­tices, local knowl­edge and more is crit­i­cal in help­ing glob­al fleet man­agers imple­ment and achieve busi­ness val­ue.

Let’s talk about some of the region­al dif­fer­ences.

Some of the dif­fer­ences in regions are so unique. In Chi­na almost every fleet comes with a chauf­feur Tax­a­tion nuances exist in almost every coun­try. As a result, it’s real­ly hard to uni­ver­sal­ly apply poli­cies that tran­scend those bor­ders because the social and polit­i­cal and cul­tur­al ele­ments are so local­ized. I think that over time, cer­tain financ­ing struc­tures and ser­vice prac­tices may spread, but ulti­mate­ly the tax­a­tion and reg­u­la­to­ry envi­ron­ments either encour­age or pro­hib­it trends from mov­ing across bor­ders.
Europe has clear­ly had some enor­mous chal­lenges as they have dealt with a severe reces­sion over the past few years.

How has the reces­sion affect­ed fleet prac­tices and poli­cies?

In the wake of the worst eco­nom­ic down­turn in our life­time, we’ve seen some changes in the fleet sec­tor. Sales and perk fleets are not real­ly com­ing back. As ongo­ing merg­ers and acqui­si­tions with­in indus­try sec­tors occur, those large fleets are not com­ing back. How­ev­er, there are a lot of self-man­aged fleets that are rec­og­niz­ing that there may be a bet­ter way to do things. It may be because of oppor­tu­ni­ties to use their cap­i­tal in a dif­fer­ent way to fund core oper­a­tions. And they’re tak­ing advan­tage of oppor­tu­ni­ties to learn fleet man­age­ment best prac­tices that have been proven to work. In any case, we are see­ing orga­ni­za­tions that hadn’t his­tor­i­cal­ly out­sourced fleet man­age­ment look to fleet man­age­ment com­pa­nies to help them opti­mize their own busi­ness per­for­mance.

Are there any areas of the globe that are par­tic­u­lar­ly shin­ing right now?

We are see­ing a lot of oppor­tu­ni­ties with­in Latin Amer­i­ca, which in terms of prox­im­i­ty to North Amer­i­ca and exist­ing trade rela­tion­ships may prove to be advan­ta­geous for expan­sion in the short term. There are a lot of U.S.-based mul­ti-nation­al orga­ni­za­tions that have oper­a­tions in Latin Amer­i­ca. We’re very excit­ed about recent part­ner­ships we’ve estab­lished there that allow us to extend our glob­al capa­bil­i­ties and val­ue to our clients.


Michele Cun­ning­ham, vice pres­i­dent of Strate­gic Devel­op­ment, is respon­si­ble for devel­op­ing and imple­ment­ing PHH Arval’s “go-to-mar­ket” strat­e­gy. She has more than 20 years of busi­ness-to-busi­ness mar­ket­ing and strate­gic plan­ning expe­ri­ence in such com­pa­nies as Ran­dom House, AT&T Cap­i­tal Corp., and Williams Scots­man. Michele has a BA in psy­chol­o­gy from the Uni­ver­si­ty of Vir­ginia.

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