In the latest instalment of our fleet management industry executive interview series, we spoke to David McGuinness, Corporate Sales Manager at PayByPhone, about the company, the perfect storm of challenges being faced by the sector over the last 12 months and how we’re fighting through, the importance of universal efficiencies and transformational impact of electric vehicles…
Tell us about your company, products and services.
PayByPhone is a global leader in mobile parking payments, and our aim is clear: simplify your journey so you can focus on what matters most. Our stats back that up, too. Available in more than 1,200 cities around the world, 50 million global users can pay for parking easily and safely without the hassle of coins, queues or fines thanks to our technology. As a wholly owned subsidiary of Volkswagen Financial Services AG, we are one of the fastest growing mobile payments companies in the world. We process more than £430 million in payments and have over five million downloads per year.
Our smart, intuitive technology is at the centre of our user-first approach, delivered to make everything as simple as possible. This same sentiment is at the core of our fleet management solution, PayByPhone Business, designed to aggregate fleet parking payments in one easy-to-use, centralised system saving time and money for fleet managers and drivers.
What have been the biggest challenges the Fleet Services industry has faced over the past 12 months?
The past 12 months have been particularly challenging for many industries, including Fleet Services. To be honest, I’m unsure if there’s ever been a time where macro-environmental consequence has been so unfavourably changeable. We have seen everything from driver and vehicle shortages to fuel shortages. This is the stuff of every fleet manager’s nightmare. However, it’s been inspiring to witness the resilience in our industry. I’ve been so impressed with the innovative attitude many have adopted in finding and embracing opportunity to evolve amidst the adversity.
And what have been the biggest opportunities?
We have seen businesses put an increased focus on operational efficiency, which has been long overdue in many cases. Not only are they trying to identify the bottlenecks in their current processes, but also, they are actively looking for technological solutions to streamline their operations. If the past two years have taught me anything, it’s that businesses that embrace a reactive approach to innovation are often those who are impacted first and most significantly.
PayByPhone Business, our fleet management solution, has unquestionably accelerated the digitalisation of fleet parking payments, allowing businesses to deliver a much better user experience for their drivers and to control costs for the businesses at the same time.
What is the biggest priority for the Fleet Services industry in 2022?
Skyrocketing energy prices and rising inflation are driving up operational costs for businesses. It’s crucial now, more than ever, that fleet owners look for bespoke solutions to keep their fleets running as cost-effectively as possible.
By that I mean keeping a close eye on expenditure, leveraging existing resources to optimise output, and ensuring that employees are never left out of pocket – even if only temporarily – by moving away from conventional, time-consuming expenses-based systems.
Fleet services providers, like PayByPhone, have a real opportunity to work closely with businesses to make sure that solutions drive efficiencies universally.
What are the main trends you are expecting to see in the market in 2022?
We will see a continued shift towards electric vehicles as businesses want to take positive action to reduce their impact on the environment. Despite a desire to be as early in the adoption curve as possible, there are logistical challenges to navigate.
Fleet managers will need to maintain the same level of ‘road time’, but this is being hampered by the slow roll-out of public charging points. The government recently committed £1.6 billion for the creation of 300,000 public charging points by 2030, but there are already concerns that the roll-out needs to be ramped up quite significantly if it is to meet this target. Having a reliable, readily-accessible EV charging infrastructure will go some way to encourage fleet managers to accelerate their transition from internal combustion engine vehicles to electric cars and vans.
What technology is going to have the biggest impact on the market this year?
Any technology that will deliver efficiency, security and visibility for fleet managers.
In 2025 we’ll all be talking about…?
I am going to look even further ahead than that and say 2026. The transformational impact that autonomous vehicles will start to have on the fleet services industry. Either that, or as a proud Irishman, I’ll say Ireland winning the World Cup of course.
What’s the most surprising thing you’ve learnt about the Fleet Services sector?
I am always surprised by the lack of control and visibility businesses have over their fleet. It’s not only highly inefficient and expensive, but also exposes them to unnecessary risks.
With PayByPhone Business, fleet admins have visibility over all parking activity in a simple solution – one app and one interactive dashboard are all they need. It’s scalable, so there is no limit to the number of vehicles or drivers that can be added, and, for added convenience, they can be added in bulk. All payments are made from a centralised corporate payment facility for maximum simplicity and security. And for added protection, once a driver or vehicle is deleted, the associated business payment method will immediately be removed, safeguarding the account. In a world where data is king, our purpose-built reporting suite not only automates the curation of high-volume parking activity, but also it affords invaluable insights enabling better decision making. It’s everything you need, and nothing you don’t.
You go to the bar at the Fleet Services Management Summit – what’s your tipple of choice?
I am unashamedly playing into the stereotype, but it has to be a Guinness. Mainly for the royalties, though!
What’s the most exciting thing about your job?
At PayByPhone, we pride ourselves on being at the forefront of innovation, which is par for the course when you’re a wholly-owned subsidiary of a global, modern organisation like Volkswagen Financial Services. Being in a position where I’m empowered to play an active role in innovating and improving the way clients manage something as business-critical as their fleet is a source of daily motivation for me.
And what’s the most challenging?
There are over 580,000 vans in the UK and that’s before we even look at passenger car fleets. And knowing what I do about the hassles, stress and time constraints fleet managers and fleet admins must deal with, naturally, I want to get them all using PayByPhone Business. Put simply, it’s frustrating that I can’t magically do that – as useful a superpower as that would be! Instead, my team and I are working as hard as we can to simplify things, one fleet at a time.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
“The harder you work, the luckier you become.” I now realise she didn’t come up with this herself, but it was said to me by my late, industrious grandmother who was a hugely influential figure in my life.
Peaky Blinders or The Crown?
Almost as instinctively as I answered Guinness earlier, it’s got to be Peaky Blinders.
PayByPhone’s aim is simple: simplify your journey so you can focus on what matters most. As a wholly-owned subsidiary of Volkswagen Financial Services AG, we are one of the fastest growing mobile payments companies in the world, processing more than £430 million in payments and over 5 million downloads per year. Available in more than 1,200 cities across the globe, PayByPhone helps millions of consumers easily and safely pay for parking without the hassles of coins, queues, or fines. Our smart, intuitive technology is at the centre of our user-first approach, delivered to make everything as simple as possible. Our multi-award-winning environmental initiatives, our Carbon Neutral status since 2019 and our cashless ethos, all contribute to helping us and our clients on the green journey in this interconnected world. For more information, please visit www.paybyphone.co.uk.