In Focus: Nexus
20 June 2019
Author: Rachel Boagey
Rachel Boagey speaks to Nexus CEO David Brennan about customer service, changing mobility trends, and the future of rental.
Like many industries, the fleet sector is experiencing a wave of digital disruption as new technologies emerge, causing it, to a certain extent, to rethink how it operates.
Nexus reports that many of its customers are approaching the vehicle rental company for access to flexible, on-demand mobility.
Although it may hold a small share in the corporate rental market, Nexus has experienced exponential growth over the past few years. According to CEO David Brennan, that is partially because of the firm's stance on a flexible mobility, as people increasingly transition from car ownership to usership. On his first day at Nexus, Brennan was told to look at the business in its entirety and figure out how it could grow - and since then it has done so very rapidly.
Interestingly, Nexus doesn't actually own any vehicles, instead providing access to thousands of vehicles across 2,000 locations through its online technology platform, Iris, which gives fleet customers access to over 550,000 rental vehicles each day in the UK, from cars to tractors. The company is starting to look at pool car fleets and car-sharing add-on products that will help businesses stay mobile.
"The benefit of our technology supplier platform is that it takes a lot of the pain and problems away for fleets, it is simple, and the service it offers is excellent and time-efficient, and able to deliver the requirements of the customers first time, every time," Brennan tells Business Car. "It even provides invoicing that is accurate, and P11D tax calculations too - so, everything the fleet manager may want from a rental."
The system is developed fully in-house and allows the company to stay up-to-date with changing customer requirements.
"It allows us to work in a very efficient manner," explains Brennan. "If you contract with one supplier directly, that supplier won't always have the vehicle that you need at the exact location and time. Because we essentially have all of the market on our platform, we can get that vehicle, and save the customer loads of time and give them a one-stop solution."
Nexus also allows the customer to self-serve, and enables them, through its software, to find the supplier that has exactly what they want, at the price they need and for the service they require.
"Its real-world benefits are that the businesses are always getting a vehicle accurate to their needs at the time from a massive selection for customers who need them on a temporary basis."
Whether a business needs vehicles for temporary labour staff or graduates, or only requires cars for a few weeks before taking out a lease, Nexus aims to provide a vehicle to suit its exact needs.
"Some of our recent customers have nine to 12-month projects taking place on the motorways, or they are involved in HS2, so need vehicles just for that period of time," says Brennan. "We can offer that flexibility, meaning they don't need to commit to a lease."
Iris can be used to develop what Brennan describes as 'data cubes' of vehicle information for customers in the form of PDFs, as well as raw data to give Nexus better insights into customers.
Customer service is key and Nexus currently has a retention rate of 95%. As well as offering a complete bespoke rental service, Nexus can also provide its customers with daily, weekly or monthly reports that show key components including spend, usage and damage. Again, these are tailored to each individual customer's needs depending on what is important to them.
"If you are a busy fleet manager, one of the main gripes you will have is that 30% of the time, when you want a particular vehicle, your supplier won't have it," says Brennan. "So we completely eliminate this issue for fleets and then make sure that everything that flows from that order is correct."
With the extended Brexit deadline looming, many companies have been left worried that whatever deal is eventually agreed on might harm their business, and until that decision is made, much uncertainty remains. Nexus doesn't feel that fear so acutely, and in realistic terms, the economic uncertainty in the country at the moment could drive further growth for the company.
"It may be leaving many companies reluctant to commit to long-term investments and cautious about how much they spend," says Brennan. "This could present a real opportunity for the rental market, but will of course bring with it some challenges, too, as the demands of the customer may be less easy to predict, but what we are certain of is that any economic uncertainty means we just need to continue becoming more and
On a similar note, and away from Brexit, Brennan genuinely believes there is a real shift towards rental.
"It is a lot more flexible, and with other trends such as working from home and
part-time working, sometimes it just works for companies more now than ever before."
Brennan believes that diesel has had an unfair time in the press over the last few years.
"The demonisation in the press isn't totally justified in my opinion," he tells us. "95% of our fleet is diesel and petrol, and while we do expect that to change towards electric and hybrid in the future, that will happen as the vehicles become more available, and the charging infrastructure does too. Whatever assets we have in the market are what our customers will want."
The mix of vehicles Nexus rents to customers has also undergone quite a few changes in recent years, with fewer cars and more vans.
"We just moved into HGVs, so an increase is obvious but we are finding our customers moving more towards vans because of the growth in internet shopping," comments Brennan. "We are finding our customers are needing bigger vehicles to deliver all the requirements of the internet shopper these days, and that is only increasing."
In future, Brennan explains the key factor for Nexus customers is service.
"We are learning from that and constantly analysing their needs, and will continue to see what challenges they are facing in terms of requirements to the changing landscape and currently uncertain times," he says. "These changes may be that they want alternative fuels, connected cars, perhaps even autonomy, so we are going to help them to get the most for their money and enable them to move with the trends too."
"Our business is all about disruption and innovation, and to achieve that we need to keep our eye on the outside market," he continues. "The mobility marketplace we sit in is changing rapidly and there are lots of conversations currently going on about what will happen with autonomous cars, and all sorts of different solutions.
"As a technology platform within vehicle rental we need to keep an eye on and deliver what our customers want day to day in
2019 and beyond."