Subscription certainly brings sizzle with it right now, but I believe few actually understand what it takes…the complexity, the critical elements to build a sustainable program for your business AND consumer. Let me make it real.
True story. My family and I were driving from Atlanta to Destin and happened to be in a subscription vehicle. I got pulled over because the driver’s side head light was out. I was nowhere near Atlanta. I didn’t own the car and I didn’t want to pay out of pocket for the repair and wait for reimbursement from the dealer. It’s a headache.
This is one example of a subscription program challenge. If you build your own program, how do you solve for this and dozens of other everyday scenarios? Subscription can be complicated, but for me and Flexdrive it’s been battle-tested over the past four years.
I’ll take you on an inside tour of what it truly takes to move toward mobility and run a subscription business. And I’ll put a stake in the ground; if you aren’t doing these things, you simply aren’t doing it right.
Insurance: Insurance is complicated. I won’t try to solve for it in this post, but I will share a baseline to set the stage. Subscription requires a delicate balance and orchestration accounting for protecting your business, the cars in your fleet, and subscribers with different levels of risk appetite. It’s also important to consider the early-stage market of subscription and few insurers being truly experienced with it. They have their own risk-tolerance level…building relationships on your own with an insurer for this kind of operation is no easy task.
Fleet management: Operators may think least about this. You certainly understand the need to maintain vehicles, but (to my earlier personal story) subscribers will need roadside assistance. They will inevitably need repairs that are away from an operator’s shop. Things will happen that are beyond an operator’s reach. The bottom line? Businesses need to be part of a fleet management program from a consumer ease perspective and to act as a solve for many of these challenges.
Fleet management technology is also equally important. Operators need a platform to oversee the fleet of cars, vehicle depreciation, and maintenance schedules. Being part of a large fleet management program brings with it buying power, scale and reach. For example, you may find that outsourcing certain repairs is more cost effective through a fleet management partner, but insourcing may be better for higher return services.
Telematics: Vehicles on subscription are with consumers for extended periods of time. As an operator, you need to be able to track that asset for various reasons. For example, what if the customer is not in good standing? What if vehicle performance is at risk with a check engine light? That would require a consumer to reach out and notify you. How is the mileage on the car; is it at levels that match the predicted depreciation model you have in place? Without telematics, the consumer, operator and asset are all at potential risk depending on the scenario.
Technology: Subscription requires all the aforementioned components to function and be efficient, but these aspects also need to be integrated into single platform. It should be a single pane of glass with the ability to view all metrics in one system.
But let me explain further. You also need an integrated subscription management component—aka a consumer-facing app with integrated payment processing. Solving for tickets and tolls—because they will happen—also needs to be easy for the operator to manage. Think of the operational nightmare places like New Jersey, LA or Florida bring if tolls haven’t been thought about.
In summary, subscription is great. I wholeheartedly believe it’s the way of the future. And I don’t mean to cause fear in anyone who wants to pursue a program. BUT when evaluating a program or partner, if they don’t have these areas confidently covered and thought through, you’ll have to solve gaps and your business will experience disruption in all the wrong ways.