Automotive Fleet

OCT 2013

Magazine for the car and truck fleet and leasing industry

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TOM COFFEY OF MERCHANTS After 18 months at Merchants Fleet Management, Vice President of Sales and Marketing Tom Coffey reviews the changes he's helped initiate at the feet management company. BY CHRIS WOLSKI S ince joining Merchants Fleet Management in late 2011, Tom Cofey, vice president of sales and marketing, has helped transform and signifcantly grow the family-owned and operated feet management company. A 25-plus-year veteran of the feet and equipment leasing industry, and one of the few senior managers working today with experience at several top feet companies, Cofey joined Merchants from Donlen. His previous experience included serving as senior vice president of fnancial solutions at GE Capital Fleet Services. While at GE Capital Fleet Services, he also led the North American eforts in truck feet services and held a number of regional sales management positions at the company. Automotive Fleet (AF) recently spoke with Cofey about his accomplishments during his tenure with the company, what he sees in Merchants' future, and what trends he sees emerging in the feet industry. PHOTOS: MERCHANTS INTERVIEW WITH Tom Coffey, Merchants' VP of Sales and Marketing (center), Brad Jacobs, Merchants' manager of process improvement (left), and Dan Hannan, Merchants' director of strategic consulting, review a marketing plan. COFFEY: Our name change refects our evolution. While we certainly do lease, a vast majority of our customers also look to us to provide feet management services; everything from maintenance to fuel to acquisition to remarketing to insurance to accident management, and, of course, strategic consulting, which ties it all together. So, the feet management addition to our name refects that most of our customers use us for much more than the leasing and fnancing of their vehicles. Plus it opens up opportunities with companies who aren't interested in leasing and fnancing, but want management services while they might actually own their feets. AF: Does this refect how you see the industry changing, increasingly moving away from what we think of as 'feet management'? COFFEY: At a more granular level, you reAF: Merchants recently changed its name from Merchants Leasing to Merchants Fleet Management. Why was this an important change for the company? AT A GLANCE Since Tom Coffey joined Merchants Fleet Management, the company has experienced signifcant growth by: ● Leveraging its human and technological capital. ● Providing a fexible array of products and services. ● Expanding into new markets and cultivating established ones. 46 AUTOMOTIVE FLEET I OCTOBER 2013 ally can't compete in today's fleet management market either nationally or globally unless you offer the whole spectrum of services beyond leasing and financing. To be a player today, you have to go beyond the basic services by offering the strategic consulting piece to solve customer challenges and impact their bottom line. Without that you really can't operate, at least not in North America, as a top 10 fleet management company, and certainly not globally. AF: You've been at Merchants for more than18 months during which time the company has experienced major growth. What have you done to help fuel that? COFFEY: We're really focused on furthering our proprietary expertise and customer service. In the past 18 months, we've probably hired 50 new employees. About a dozen of those people are dedicated to sales and marketing, and, on top of that, the company has dedicated millions of dollars to improve and expand the technology interface with our customers. When it comes to our success, especially in the past 18 months, I cannot underestimate the importance of providing a very fexible service platform for our existing customers. And, now, with the people and technology investments we're making, we're able to expand the markets we serve and move upmarket signifcantly without losing track of the customers that helped make Merchants a very successful company in its own right. AF: What are some of the day-to-day changes that you've made that are fueling the company's growth? COFFEY: We challenged our regional sales managers to step up their game so they were not only looking for new business opportunities, but were really following up with our existing customers to add value. Using the tools we have available for our strategic consulting team, we are focused on leveraging proven best practices and shared ideas, so our customers get more value from us and we continue to grow with them. Additionally, one of the benefts of someone like myself who's been around a bit, we were able to attract a pretty signifcant group of new folks to come on to help us to quickly expand our relationships with new and future customers.

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