New card the first step for 'more dynamic' Allstar
10 July 2015
Fuel card giant Allstar has launched a payment card that offers 2p per litre at certain service stations, and heralds a new era for a company with big plans for 2016, as Paul Barker discovers
Allstar has long been the biggest fuel card network in the UK, with around 7600 petrol stations - i.e. most of them - accepting the payment card. But, as its bosses admit, the company has had its communication issues in recent times, and Pete Bridgen, UK boss of Allstar parent Fleetcor, sees the launch of the new Allstar One card as a chance to get back on track with customers.
"This is not to dismiss the old regime, but I'm hoping you've seen the change from something that was a little sleepy to something that's more dynamic," said Bridgen speaking at an event to launch the new card to a select group of customers. "Allstar went through a period of no communication that turned into negative communication. Now that's been turned on its head and we are listening to customers and asking what is required."
The launch of Allstar One is a culmination of more than four years of change since Fleetcor acquired Allstar at the end of 2011.
"Since we bought it outright we have completely re-engineered the customer service and focus away from reactive, as it was when we bought it," says Bridgen. "We have also restructured the organisation to put the best managers in the best positions."
The new card is effectively a process of combining the Allstar card with sister card brand Keyfuels, creating a product that will offer a 2p per litre discount on diesel at the 1780 designated Discount Diesel forecourts - the Keyfuels network - within the Allstar nationwide offering, which can be found via the company's app. That app is due a revision by the end of this month, with Allstar addressing criticism about its stability in particular.
The company claims that 20% of fuel drawn on its current Allstar cards is at one of the Discount Diesel locations, so fleets will make an instant saving, and that will increase if, once the new card is rolled out, businesses ensure drivers are prioritising refuelling at one of the sites rather than at their regular fill-up point.
The firm cites the latest AA Cost of Motoring report that put fuel cost at 28% of fleet operating costs, compared with 51% on standing charges such as lease cost or depreciation, and 21% on other costs.
"Fuel cost really matters," says Fleetcor UK vice-president of sales Tony Murtagh. "We can help you drive more savings. The key is to change that 20%, and if you move it to 35% then the savings escalate quickly."
The firm confesses it won't be able to offer the discount on petrol transactions at any point in the near future, citing the fact that 90% of its volume is on diesel, hence the ability to leverage scale.
The roll-out of new cards has begun, with a small number of customers having already piloted it. Although hesitant to put a timescale on the full switchover of 1.1 million cards, Bridgen says he "wouldn't want it to go much beyond the end of the year".
He also says customers that are particularly keen to get onto Allstar One can talk to the provider about making it happen: "If we've got customers that want to do it quickly then we can look at that and try to make it work. We can't do it for everyone, but we'll try and prioritise and do it for you in your timescale."
It won't be compulsory to switch to the new card, with Allstar happy to leave customers on what is being dubbed Allstar Classic if they wish, although there's little benefit in doing so as there's no additional charge for Allstar One. However, the same transaction fee still applies.
Depending on customer requirements, the Allstar One card can also be used for a variety of other services, including paying for the M6 Toll, as well as tie-ups with The AA, National Windscreens and ATS Euromaster, and saving up to 20% on service, maintenance and repair across the 300 garages signed up to the firm's new initiative. Allstar's Ecopoint CO2 monitoring and Business Mileage Monitor systems
are both also offered.
To mobility, and beyond
Next year will see Allstar branch out further from its historic fuel card base with the launch of what is currently called Allstar Mobility.
Working on a Visa platform, the mobility card could potentially be used to pay for flights, trains, car rental, hotels and restaurants, as well as the traditional fuel offering.
"We will deliver mobility in a controlled way, so if you needed to be able to pay for just Premier Inn, for example, then we can work with Premier Inn so you can use the card there," says Pete Bridgen, boss at Allstar parent company Fleetcor UK. "We're asking what kind of mobility payments you want and we'll work with you. If you want a certain type of parking or congestion charge, we can go away and make that work."
Fleetcor has expertise in this area, describing its core international business as "a workforce payment solution leader". On top of various fuel offerings worldwide, it owns CLC Lodging, a firm it claims is North America's biggest provider of workforce lodging rooms across a network of thousands of hotels. It also owns Efectivale, Mexico's leading provider of fuel and food card/voucher services, with a 10,000-business client base, and VB Servicos, a Brazilian public transport card that can be used on around 800 transportation agencies across the country.