4 Aug 2014
As business mobility becomes an increasingly important topic for companies throughout Europe, it simultaneously grows in complexity for both solution providers and the companies they serve. Norbert van den Eijnden and Ed Frederiks, CEOs of the successful business mobility provider Alphabet International, share what is required today and tomorrow for their company, and the industry at large, to thrive.
How would you describe the current state of business mobility in one word?
Nvan den Eijnden: Complex. There are ever more solutions on the market and constantly changing customer demands. Given the situation, our aspiration is to always stay ahead with new innovations. This is only possible when we take time to truly listen to the specific needs of each individual customer.
Business mobility is complex because of the growing list of topics that flow into it. Customer requirements are constantly changing along with people’s overall understanding of what mobility entails. Of course, part of this complexity stems from mobility’s relationship to hot button issues such as sustainability and carbon dioxide emissions. Also, managing international fleets introduces a host of new challenges, and reducing TCO/TCM (total cost of ownerships/mobility) always plays a decisive role.
Business mobility is complex because of the growing list of topics that flow into it
How do you respond to this complex landscape?
Ed Frederiks: By offering simple, smart solutions. It is our job to make business mobility easy and convenient for our customers and to advise them on what’s best. To determine this we look at the bigger picture, which means not only contacting fleet managers, but also speaking with the CEO, mobility users, HR managers and CSR managers and learning what each of their needs are. Doing so allows us to develop a tailor-made business mobility solution that truly meets a company’s requirements rather than pushing a one-size-fits-all package that will inevitably fall short. Our consultancy approach makes us especially strong in this area and is also the key to our success. Sitting down with customers and pinpointing their mobility requirements facilitates the creation of holistic solutions.
What are you able to achieve through Alphabet’s so-called consultancy approach?
NvdE: Reducing TCO and TCM, and optimising processes related to business mobility are our primary objectives. This starts with looking at a company’s core business. Our goal is to always ask the right questions. We ask our customers about their car policy and talk about fuel and tyre management or insurance, for example. It is interesting for us to hear if employees make short or long trips. If the answer is short, it may be wise to replace petrol cars with electric ones, so our eMobility solution AlphaElectric comes into play. Another aspect to consider is the number of younger employees who are not entitled to a company car. In this case, our corporate car-sharing scheme AlphaCity might be an ideal match. These are just a few examples of how consulting enables us to put together mobility packages our customers require.
You mentioned that mobility needs have changed. In what ways precisely?
NvdE: We refer to what is currently happening in mobility as iconic change. In the past, people just went out and bought a vehicle. Later, leasing came into play. Now everyone is talking about car sharing or holistic mobility packages. For example, in the Netherlands we now offer an innovative product called Alphabet Mobility Budget, which is an employee mobility allowance that lets individuals decide what mobility form to spend their individual mobility budget on. Our products and services are direct reflections of changing mobility needs. Our job is to determine what is best for our customers, be it the Alphabet Mobility Budget, AlphaCity, or something else.
Tell us more about AlphaCity.
EF: AlphaCity is our corporate car-sharing solution that originated from an in-depth analysis of mobility needs. Now employees just book a car online, access it without a key, get fuel using the fuel card and return it to the parking bay when they are done. Because we take over the booking and management, regular vehicle servicing and cleaning, and provide a designated 24/7 AlphaCity Customer Service Team, AlphaCity is hassle-free for companies. Plus, by allowing employees to book vehicles for private trips in the evening and at the weekend, companies can improve their AlphaCity cars’ utilisation and recover some of the associated costs.
AlphaCity stands for low administrative costs, state of the art technologies and top cost efficiency. And because a company is able to serve many employees more efficiently, it contributes to a smaller carbon footprint.
It sounds like that touches on sustainability. What does Alphabet do to this effect?
EF: Sustainability is not only of the upmost importance to us, it is also an increasingly crucial topic for companies and their fleets. We always keep our eyes on three targets that a customer potentially has. The first is avoiding emissions, which we make possible with our product solutions AlphaCity and AlphaElectric. The second, reducing emissions, is something we address through driver training and car policy consulting as part of our core business offer. The third is compensating emissions by cooperating with an exclusive partner who supports projects that help reduce carbon dioxide emissions.
To what extent has eMobility established itself in fleets?
EF: We are perceived as the mobility provider with a holistic approach to eMobility. Therefore, we receive numerous requests, and notice that a growing number of companies are interested in eMobility. Currently we are exploring the option of implementing electric vehicles in corporate fleets with a large number of customers, from SMEs to international corporations. Yes, there are still concerns about this ‘new’ way of driving, for example, vehicle range, charging infrastructure and, of course, costs. We had these in mind when we developed AlphaElectric, Alphabet’s solution for easy integration of eMobility in corporate fleets.
Here we experienced that the right consultancy makes all the difference. That is why we always start with an in-depth electrification potential analysis – to make the reasons for eMobility as transparent and obvious as possible.
The last thing we want to do is force people to use electric vehicles. Instead we seek to individually determine the right mix of electric vehicles, hybrids and petrol cars for each customer. Our consulting approach is the optimum way to do so because it builds a foundation on which Alphabet can offer a client a customised selection of vehicles, charging infrastructure, and additional services.
What about internationalisation?
NvdE: Today companies work on a global scale and so too must their fleets. As their business mobility provider we must offer our products and services across national boarders to reach employees everywhere.
Alphabet is currently active in 18 countries and counting, which allows us to be where our customers do business. We currently have more than 536,000 financed cars under management. Part of what has enabled us to achieve this is our international sales team based out of our headquarters in Munich, Germany. The team has built the structures required to care for our international customers from one place and is genuinely an invaluable asset to our business and our customers.
What is the future of business mobility?
EF: There is no doubt that business mobility will continue to grow in complexity, especially as mobility demand skyrockets.
I am also certain that the current number of fleet service providers will consolidate even further, with only the biggest players left standing. We will be one of them and feel confident about our position. Carefully listening to the needs of our customers, consulting them on what is best, and offering a portfolio of innovative, future-proof products and services are the key to our success.