At Merchants Fleet, our mission is to enable the movement of people, goods, and services freely and responsibly. As the fastest-growing fleet management company in North America, there is a lot going on behind the scenes to make it all happen.
Take a walk through the halls of our Hooksett, NH, or Rosemont, IL offices and you’ll meet the people leading the charge at Merchants. Every department plays a role in pushing Merchants to be a cutting-edge fleet services and technology provider. Whether your fleet needs to acquire vehicles, remarket them, or any of the fleet management in between, Merchants is true end-to-end source for your fleet and mobility needs.
For example, let’s look at the Fleet Consulting department. This is the team to go to if your fleet is looking to drive fleet initiative cost savings and strategically make changes to reap operational benefits. Think of them as the experts that fleet experts go to with their questions.
I got a chance to talk with Jennifer Riley, Director of Fleet Consulting. She shined light on the value her team adds to being a Merchants Fleet Client, and why Merchants has been able to grow faster, organically, than any other fleet management company in the United States.
Q: How long have you been working at Merchants Fleet?
A: I started back in 2012, I celebrated my tenth anniversary with Merchants back in March.
Q: What initially led you to start working for Merchants Fleet back in 2012?
A: My undergrad degree was in Communications and Business Administration and a recruiter reached out to me for a Community Relations Coordinator position. I’m originally from Manchester, NH, and was familiar with Merchants Auto, so it sounded like a fun opportunity. I already knew about the community events and support Merchants provided to Hooksett and surrounding areas.
During my first two years I handled community relations, charity events, and came up with creative ways to give back to the local area. Working on the Corporate side, I continued to be intrigued by the fleet side of the business as each day passed. I was lucky to get the opportunity to move into Product Sales, working with Diana Holland who showed me the ropes of our products and Merchants solution offering. I loved what we did for clients and have been in the sales and consulting division ever since.
Q: Our Fleet Consultants are a big part of the “Merchants Difference.” What role does your team play in the overall Merchants Fleet ecosystem?
A: We work very closely with clients and prospects to identify and take advantage of cost savings and operational benefits. Consultants are assigned to specific accounts and really get to know the ins-and-outs of each specific fleet within their portfolio. They build great relationships with our clients and have developed in-depth knowledge of the operating norms that the client is managing. This allows Merchants to provide targeted recommendations specific to their fleet and business needs.
Q: With technology rapidly advancing as the world moves toward EVs, what does your team do day-to-day to support clients and their growth?
A: For core fleet client support, we go way beyond scorecards and deliver targeted and personalized analysis specific to each client’s business needs and goals. You’re right about the shift to EVs, a large percentage of our work is EV assessments. Clients are interested to see what types of electric vehicles they’d be able to pilot and what they need to do in order to reach an EV goal.
Supply chain navigation recommendations is another big segment that we’ve been focusing on – especially as vehicle allocations have become prevalent with new model year releases. We have developed a playbook on how to stay ahead of the supply chain and be successful in this “new normal.”
Additionally, we run analysis on telematics conversions to connected vehicles, beneficial cashflow plays, and what the cost savings could be when fleets are ready to cycle their vehicles at the optimal time.
Q: As a problem solver, can you tell me about a time you overcame an especially challenging scenario?
A: Generally, consultants split up their work based on regions, but we were seeing a need for specialist consultants for EVs, mobility, and strategic accounts. In 2021 we hired two new consultants to start filling these specialization opportunities.
Q: With everything you’ve seen, what’s your favorite fleet story?
A: To be honest, the Merchants story about how we’ve evolved overtime is amazing. I’ve been here for 10 years and have seen us go from finding a 500-unit fleet large to managing 10,000+ unit fleets today. To go from being one of the little guys to being one of the top five FMCs in the country has been a great experience to see firsthand.
Q: What do you want the other departments to know about Fleet Consultants?
A: We love being involved in the process of helping our clients develop a strategy and then see them hit their goals after implementation. For example, when a client rolls out telematics after we provided them with guided recommendations on the alerts and reports to use, it’s very rewarding to watch as negative driving behaviors are curtailed.
Q: You’re a great Merchants home-grown success story. How would you say Merchants has helped you in your career?
A: Merchants wants to see people grow and move up within the company. This is a great motivator and a fantastic way for people to get the confidence to take on new challenges. I didn’t come with a fleet background, but I was given the opportunity to have my hands in different roles, this allowed me to truly learn the fleet lifecycle and experience.
Q: What is your favorite part about working at Merchants Fleet?
A: The people! A lot of companies say this, but we really are a Merchants family… and it just continues to grow over time. Some of your closest friends are here, and these are new relationships that were created at work. Also, the mentorship and guidance is second to none.
Q: What’s your favorite Hooksett, NH restaurant?
A: Mint Bistro is an amazing Asian-fusion/sushi restaurant. They’ve closed temporarily but will be reopening and I can’t wait to go back.
Q: What is your favorite movie of all time?
A: I’m not much of a movie person, I do enjoy The Big Bang Theory on TV.
Q: When it comes down to the wire, what sports team will you be cheering on?
A: I will root for any New England team. The Patriots are always fun to watch, and who doesn’t enjoy a Sox or Celtics game?