Foss National Leasing

Big Enough to Be Heard Small Enough to Listen

At approximately $100 billion, asset-based financing and leasing is Canada’s second-largest debt financing industry, just behind traditional lending offered by banks and credit unions.

For some companies their vehicle fleet is the lifeblood of their business. Some vehicles might be for salespeople, some exclusively the domain of the management team, while others are service vehicles, with a whole lot of uses and challenges in between.

Foss National Leasing is Canada’s largest privately-owned fleet management company. Providing their clients with custom fleet management solutions from their head office in Toronto, Foss National Leasing also has locations in Montreal, Calgary and Edmonton. 65 employees manage more than 48,200 vehicles across Canada and plans are underway to open a new office in Newfoundland.

Their corporate parent is Canada’s largest General Motors dealership, Roy Foss Motors, founded in 1962 by Roy Foss. Recognizing the need for a national Canadian company that understood the uniqueness of the Canadian automotive leasing marketplace, Roy Foss launched Foss National Leasing in 1982 as a separate business unit.

Recently, The Canadian Business Journal sat down with Jeff Hartley, President of Foss National Leasing and Chairman of the Canadian Finance & Leasing Association. “When we brought our fleet leasing model to the market, we also launched operational support for our clients’ fleets, such as Fuel Cards and Fleet Maintenance. We recognized that we needed to offer both the leasing and the operational support to run effectively as a fleet provider.”

Being a national company, Foss National Leasing recognizes that managing a far-flung fleet has its challenges. “If you want to take this on you’d have to go to dealerships in every part of the country. You’d have to negotiate leases with many different leasing companies.

“Let’s say you’re managing 300 vehicles. How would you manage standardization? The upfitting? Who watches over company branding? How do you ensure the proper maintenance? How do you manage accidents? All of this while you’re still trying to run your fleet,” observes Hartley.

“In contrast, our single Master Lease Agreement is designed to simplify our client’s life and cover all their leased vehicles across the country. Because of our purchasing power, we negotiate directly with the manufacturers for lower pricing and special concessions. In some cases, because of quantities, we’ve managed to reduce our client’s pricing by more than $10,000.”

“Furthermore, we can deliver any vehicle any place in Canada — we make a point of maintaining close relationships with hundreds of car dealers in every pocket across the country. All of this and we present our clients with a fully customizable, single invoice at the end of the month,” opines Hartley.

Foss National Leasing champions the operational side of fleet management. Their clients see the value of their Fuel Card that shows the amount of fuel used by each vehicle, in one single fuel bill at the end of the month. “We even do the same thing with maintenance. We can have all the maintenance done for the vehicle and control costs and ensure accuracy.

“As an experienced fleet manager, we can also calculate each driver‘s taxable benefits for CRA reporting. It’s a cumbersome task, but we’ve developed the tools for it. We also provide driver training, check driver records, manage accidents and can sell our clients’ vehicles at the end of the lease for them. We’re always on the lookout for new ways to bring more value to our client’s operations.

“We’re also seeing a pretty significant increase in a new form of fleet management—some of our clients outsource their entire fleet operation to us. It allows them to focus on their core strengths. We provide these services for fleets ranging from 20 to more than 1,000 vehicles.”

The value of the company’s expertise and negotiating power is so significant that Foss National Leasing also provides fleet management services to companies that purchase their fleets outright. According to Hartley, roughly 50 per cent of commercial fleets are purchased, not leased. In many cases, these fleet managers leave vast sums of money on the table by not having a fleet management company manage the process.

When asked about Foss National Leasing’s value proposition, “Big Enough to be Heard… Small Enough to Listen” Hartley explained, “It describes the value we bring to our clients. It means we’re big enough and respected enough in the industry, so that when we talk, we’re heard. But we make a point of listening to, and understanding the needs of our clients to represent those concerns to the industry.

“Our larger competitors, particularly those from the U.S., have shareholders they must satisfy. This means their customers can get lost in the shuffle. They end up feeling that they’re nothing more than an account number. We make a point of doing things differently. We work with our clients on a personal basis to understand their needs and goals.”

As for the future, Hartley is upbeat. “We’re bringing great new opportunities to the market. Foss National Leasing is now the Canadian representative for LeasePlan International, the world’s largest international fleet leasing company. We can now provide leasing services for LeasePlan’s global clients whenever they need leased vehicles in Canada. And we can offer our services on an international basis. Continuous improvement defines all our processes. We’re constantly seeking out new ways to enhance our fleet offerings and we’ll soon be able to include equipment financing for heavy trucks and industrial equipment.”

“Big Enough to be Heard… Small Enough to Listen” indeed.