Athlon Mobility Consultancy: On the move - Alexander Prinssen

Few organisations truly understand their mobility position. Alexander Prinssen, vice-president of Athlon Mobility Consultancy, tells FDE about how to create a company policy that is efficient and holistic.

As the labour market undergoes widespread change, there's no doubt that mobility management is becoming more complex. Parking issues, the introduction of new ways of working, urbanisation and fiscal consolidation are all challenging the role and place of today's mobility strategists.

Coping with invoices, cost control, and the administration and registration of mobility can be also difficult, particularly when finding solutions is so hard. Over time, the market for mobility suppliers has become wider and more complex - including, among others, car leasing companies, rental firms, bike and scooter suppliers and public transport.

"You have an increasing number of mobility suppliers," says Alexander Prinssen, vice-president of newly formed company Athlon Mobility Consultancy. "The entire spectrum is getting more intricate because of the range of providers and the complexity of the data and invoice streams coming into our businesses."

Athlon Mobility Consultancy is a subsidiary of Athlon Car Lease International. Both organisations are part of De Lage Landen, fully owned by Rabobank. The business was created to deal with the challenges thrown up by mobility, offering advisory services rather than specific solutions.

"At the time, the commercial part of Athlon Car Lease was not always capable of answering these important questions," Prinssen says. "So we founded a new company to help our customers tackle their mobility needs. We do baseline analyses on various mobility areas, total mobility spend and CO2 footprint to determine how we can help."

As an independent business, the company offers advice that stretches far beyond the mobility solutions Athlon Car Lease has in its own portfolio.

"If we talk to a (potential) customer or another company we respect their existing supplier agreements," Prinssen says. "What we do is help them achieve their cost savings, to become more sustainable or help them become an employer of choice from a mobility point of view."

More than just travel

For such a large industry, the concept of mobility does not have a single universally agreed definition. Most people think of it quite plainly as travel. But that's not Prinssen's view.

"Mobility is about much more than just travelling from A to B," he says. "At Athlon, mobility is about creating an efficient connection between A and B, and that doesn't always involve travel, but rather concepts of mobility and time mobility. However, the term gets defined, and the social need for different, new mobility solutions is growing."

For Prinssen, the concept of mobility stretches well beyond the small number of people that actually qualify for a car lease. A normal leasing provider serves 10-20% of the employee population. But that leaves another 80-90% segment of the workforce that still have their own mobility needs and should be incorporated in an overall mobility policy.

Serving those employees and employers requires tackling the narrow and often fragmented way organisations deal with mobility issues. Some finance directors do have a good idea, but most are unaware of the options available to them.

"If you ask questions to companies, or financially responsible people from within those companies, about their average mobility spend, most of the time they don't know," Prinssen says.

That lack of understanding has clear financial implications, especially at a time of economic slow-down. Finance directors are looking to make productivity savings wherever they can, and mobility policy is no different.

In response to this, Athlon Mobility Consultancy has developed a series of innovative products all designed to empower organisations to make the right mobility choices.

"By offering comprehensive mobility advice, we can help organisations - big and small, national and international - to improve their mobility awareness," Prinssen says. "For this reason, and together with strategic partners like PricewaterhouseCoopers, we've developed various innovative and practical tools."

"We do baseline analyses on a number of company areas including total mobility spend and CO2 footprint to determine how we canhelp."

Momas, a web-based mobility management system, is designed to help customers achieve maximum transparency over the total cost of mobility, on both organisation and employee level. It started as a fleet management tool but gradually evolved into a full mobility application. It integrates all of the mobility processes in the company, providing efficiency. It takes care of invoice and cost control and administration of all the mobility elements in the company. Our customers tell us that on average, following implementation of Momas, they saved 7% on their total cost of mobility.

The system, which was developed over ten years, has proved remarkably successful, recently winning an award for smart mobility innovation. The panel judged it to be the only system on the market able to display each of the key aspects of smart mobility: employee efficiency, CO2 emissions and cost optimisation.

"We're very honoured to receive the award," Prinssen says. "We are proud that the members of the jury, which included representatives from leading market players, have acknowledged our dedication to innovation and rewarded us for developing such creative solutions. The customer base for Momas is now very large. Today, we're managing and administering 40,000 mobility contracts and by the end of 2013 we expect to double that number to 80,000."

More recently, the business has developed a fleet review system designed for companies that define mobility by fleet.

"For these businesses, we can do various things," Prinssen says. "We can do productivity studies where we benchmark their existing car policy or the existing cost level of their fleet. And from that point we can make recommendations on how to become more sustainable and more cost-efficient."

Aside from fleet, the company also has a range of specific mobility tools. The mobility scan provides a modular scan on, for instance, parking and new ways of flexible working. It's only available in the Netherlands at present, but the plan is to introduce it to other European markets.

"This tool can show exactly when you can save money," Prinssen says. "It produces a clear analysis of the current policy, problem areas and possible savings, and looks at how this compares with other organisations. The portal improves operational efficiency and has more than 40 scans including accessibility and sustainability."

The mobility audit, another product, was developed in collaboration with PwC to do a baseline of the existing mobility policies companies have at their disposal.

"Employees need to be very flexible in terms of mobility," Prinssen says. "In any organisation, various different mobility profiles, such as job and travel profiles, exist. Once we've worked out what those profiles are, we advise about possible mobility solutions suitable for different people. We can then give recommendations on how to become more cost-efficient."

Together with PwC, Athlon Mobility Consultancy recently completed a mobility and taxation guide for the industry. The guide covers the fiscal position of six different European countries, outlining the different roles and mobility modes that are available.

Over the next few years the company is hoping to develop a sophisticated knowledge centre for the study and application of mobility. It's currently working with a university to build a maturity index capable of giving companies insight into their mobility position.

"Instead of selling a solution, we want to create insight and transparency," Prinssen says. "We have a lot of data at our disposal from our parent company. So we're able to benchmark all kinds of things: annual mileages, CO2, car policies and so forth.

"My dream is that one day we can grade the mobility maturity of companies on a level of 1-10. That way we can assess how companies are performing in relation to their peers. In an increasingly complex and challenging market, the importance of that cannot be underestimated."

Alexander Prinssen, vice-president of Athlon Mobility Consultancy.