Athlon Car Lease International implements Sofico's Miles software system

Athlon, the largest leasing company in the Netherlands with a fleet in excess of 120,000 vehicles, also operates in nine other European markets and manages a total of more than 234,000 vehicles across Europe, with plans to expand into new markets in the coming years. 

The company has now implemented the Miles automotive leasing and fleet management software system in Spain and Italy to manage its fleet operations in both countries, as it runs similar sized businesses of around 6-7,000 vehicles with some 45 employees in each. 

Athlon then plans to use the experience gained from these two implementations to introduce the Miles system into Germany, where it operates a fleet of around 28,000 vehicles, by the end of 2013. This will be followed by a wider roll-out across its fleets in the other countries. 

So far the process has gone very smoothly and the company was able to implement Miles in only seven months in Spain and just five in Italy, thanks largely to Miles’ refined implementation methodology. 

Miles is delivered with a pre-configured Reference Implementation setup which reflects common processes and best practices within the leasing industry and speeds up the implementation process dramatically for end users, typically some 6-12 months faster than many standard system implementations. 

The implementation setup is also highly configurable which allows it to be tweaked to exactly meet the fleet customer’s requirements and to assure optimal support of individual customers' processes. 

Tijmen Mekel, Senior Vice President of Information Technology at Athlon Car Lease, says “Our strategy is to give all our users the same customer experience in every country. This means standardizing our systems to replicate the same processes in every country we operate in. 

“We currently have a number of legacy systems in place in our portfolio and we want to replace them and standardize our processes wherever possible to create efficiencies across the business. Miles is the ideal system to allow us to do this,” he says. 

“We were able to implement Miles very quickly in both Spain and Italy thanks to the Reference Implementation setup which removed the need for long preliminary discussions around set up and implementation. 

“We also ran joint workshops in both Barcelona and Rome for staff from both countries so that they had a thorough understanding of the system and we could further speed up the implementation process,” he says. 

Mekel said that the lessons learned would prove invaluable for future implementations. 

“We will take what we have learnt from both implementations and use that knowledge to help implement the system in Germany in 2013. The German market is a little more sophisticated and we will have to pay more attention to workflow, customer reporting and specific local interfaces which will take more time than the other two countries,” he says. 

Mekel said there were a number of reasons why Athlon had selected Miles from Sofico as its primary fleet management system. 

“Miles offers us greater flexibility not just around operational leasing for company cars, but for a whole range of mobility solutions. Many companies are looking at their mobility budgets not just from a viewpoint of company cars, but for train or bus travel, bikes or scooters, daily and holiday rental, car pools, taxi services and car sharing, even ancillary services such as parking. 

“Miles provides us with the functionality to manage mobility contracts with a wide mix of different types of mobility,” he says.

The Miles functionality can offer this degree of complexity for different customer sites and locations, handling driver reservations, assignments and other essential details.

“Miles also offers us greater opportunities for straight-through processing,” Mekel goes on. “For example, it allows our customers’ drivers to configure the car of their choice and order it directly online from our preferred dealer network, without any further involvement from other people. 

“This means we have a high dependence on the import of car data from third party suppliers such as JATO, but Miles facilitates this very well,” he says. 

Another factor in its favour was the configurability of the Miles system, said Mekel. “Because it is so easily configurable and scalable, we know that Miles can manage our fleet in the Netherlands in exactly the same way that it does our smaller fleets in countries like Spain and Italy. This adaptability is a real benefit and one that not many other systems can deliver,” he adds. 

Mekel says that the Miles system has allowed Athlon to build centres of excellence and to share best practice across the business in a more effective way. 

“Initially, we have implemented a ‘lite’ version of Miles for a quick start-up in a new country. Then as the business grows and best practice expertise increases, we have been able to set up centres of competence to share best practice across the business. We do not believe this is typical in the car leasing industry and gives us a definite competitive advantage,” he says.