grabs a cuppa and a chat with one of fleet’s most influential figures – Calum Slowther, Commercial Director, Engineius.
A new name is attempting to shake-up the world of vehicle movements with what it describes as a “tech-enabled solution”. Commercial boss Calum Slowther talks us through Engineius’s plans.
We’re actively involved in the three key parts of vehicle movement: new vehicle deliveries, then the mid-life movements such as moving vehicles from one branch to another, and then the end-of-life stuff, which includes collections and taking it on to auction.
What were the driving forces behind your launch into the vehicle-movement sector?
One of the key missing things in vehicle movement was transparency, and that’s really important for corporate fleets; not only from the perspective of internal efficiency so that they can avoid the phone calls, emails, things that are used to organise vehicle moving outside of a single online portal, but also from a service level perspective.
In your opinion, nobody was doing it before. Why?
Our take on the market was that vehicle movements are mainly done by a fragmented base of small providers who are good in some senses – when it works. So if you’ve got a guy around the corner from the dealer delivering your new lease vehicle, and they’re really reliable, know all the processes inside out, that’s great. But what happens when you need to deliver three vehicles. Where’s the scalability, where’s the technology, where’s the data?
And the process is all in-house, rather than any sub-contracting of drivers or being a platform external companies can bid for work on?
So you’re not putting a tender out and punting work to 200 sub-contractors?
Yeah exactly, because what happens is of those 200, four of them come back and quote so you think that’s good, I’ll pick that person. Then by the time you pick that person they’ve gone and done something else. This is why Engineius thinks those platforms don’t work.
How big an opportunity is out there, and why was no-one willing to take the plunge and make the investment?
There are at least 10 million movements a year in the UK outsourced to third parties.
As for why no one’s gone for it before, there are two camps within the market.
We’re in an age where people get everything delivered online, and they’ll get a text before it arrives. The delivery experience to the end user is becoming more and more important. Two guys in high-vis vests just carrying a clipboard and without any sort of app and without taking any photos of the vehicle might not cut it. Or where you don’t get a text on the day saying when you’re going to turn up and the person waits around until five o’clock; that doesn’t cut it.
Companies are having to make fewer vehicles work harder. So, utilisation has got to go up, and downtime is going to go down, so vehicle movement is quite an important way that they can increase efficiency and reduce downtime; moving the fleet around better to make sure the vehicles are wherever they’re needed.
Absolutely, it’s very much service-led, rather than price. The key things are service and experience, these are the things I think that was missing from the sector before – just one single place where you can potentially do things in vehicle moving.
We definitely don’t claim to be the cheapest in the market but equally we see ourselves as pretty competitive within the price range that there is. We feel like we’re cheaper than a lot of particularly retail-facing delivery specialists, and we think there’s an awful lot of benefit to using us versus running an internal vehicle moving operation; that’s certainly true.
What our customers essentially want is all of the control that they get from doing vehicle movement in-house, but they want the advantages of it being outsourced. They want to be able to pull it on demand, pay for what they use and nothing else. But at the same time, they want the same feeling of control they’ve got if they employ their own drivers.
If they have control and flexibility, the price just falls.
Entering the vehicle logistics sector
“The real opportunity for Engineius is really nailing doing vehicle movement well, because there is such a huge demand from the whole market for doing that. It’s a simple business in theory, but in practice it’s something everyone struggles with.”
WHO IS ENGINEIUS?
The company was born out of “several decades” of management experience within the fleet and vehicle management sector.
Engineius commercial director Calum Slowther tells Company Car Today that the executives saw “no obvious solution” to the issues around vehicle movement.
“As a fleet manager or dealership or a rental company, everyone had their own way of doing things,” he says. “But none of them seemed particularly good.”
That combined with the issue of there being no easy way for companies with capacity to access vehicle movement work, so the original plan was for Engineius to become a platform to put the different parties in touch. But that quickly evolved.
“People didn’t just want to be put in touch with people that can provide the service they were looking for,” continues Slowther. “They just wanted an easy solution to vehicle movement. They weren’t interested in finding a recovery agent with a backlog to get it 50% cheaper, they wanted a vehicle movement to be easy.”
According to Slowther, volumes of vehicles have increased by 2.5 times per year since the firm’s April 2018 launch, and now sit at more than 5000 movements per month.
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