Martin Evans is one of the founding directors of privately owned Jaama, which launched in 2004 to become a leading fleet and asset management software solution provider in the UK. The Great British Fleet Event dives into Evans’ history and where Jaama’s future lays.

Acting as MD today, Evans’ background in the fleet sector began in 1988 with the Harpur Group that operated Overdrive and Dialcard fuel cards. He commented, “The Harpur Group primarily used a mainframe computer system and I introduced modern relational databases to bring operational efficiencies to the business along with fulfilling a number of other operational and project roles.”

Thanks to a joint venture with Evans Halshaw, the Harpur Group launched a company called Fleet Cost Management that focused on maintenance authorisation, cost control and delivering consolidated financial and technical data from invoices. Evans was involved with merchant recruitment, managing major accounts and introducing robust processes, customer reporting and working with larger business customers.

Recognising an opportunity to learn from a company that fascinated him, Evans joined Car Fleet Control as an account manager. “The primary objective [was to] learn some sales skills as I had realised that having a great idea was worthless unless you could sell the concept to people.”

Evans then co-founded Jaama, which has built an enviable reputation in the fleet sector and that Evans describes as an exciting and progressive company to work for.

What was your first car, and what are you driving now?

My first car was a Renault 5 LeCar and I am currently driving a Volvo V60 D4.

Money no object, what would you have on your driveway and why?

Mercedes 280SL Pagoda, as it’s the most elegant car in the world to me.

What do you listen to when you’re driving? What’s your favourite album, or podcast, or radio station, or even a recent audiobook you’ve enjoyed?

I tend to listen to Virgin Radio as I’m a big Chris Evans fan, or BBC Radio 4. Music wise, I don’t have a favourite album but my favourite artists are; Kate Bush or Nina Simone.

What is Jaama’s focus for 2019?

We continue to expand in response to increased customer demand in our existing systems. Our systems are very popular because they are constantly evolving which is needed nowadays with the ever changing landscape within the fleet sector.

Jaama’s customers are currently using Key2 to manage collectively more than a 1.25 million vehicles. 2018 was a record year for the company with turnover up 22% on the previous 12 months and as a consequence Jaama expanded its workforce by 37% to support both existing customers along with gearing up for future business growth.

Jaama now employs in excess of 120 people and this year the company has expanded into newly refurbished purpose built offices as the business continues to reinvest to ensure it remains at the cutting-edge of vehicle and asset management.

How much have you found the fleet sector is changing?

The acceleration of changes in the fleet sector is exponential in terms of legislation, available technology and vehicle choice. Fleet Managers now have to choose the appropriate drivetrain for their vehicles whereas most company vehicles have most recently been just diesel based. We are constantly innovating solutions that enable our customers to; collect, digest and present data that will enable them to make the right vehicle strategic decisions.

What’s keeping today’s fleet manager awake at night?

Making sure that their strategic decisions made from information available today, will be the right choice for tomorrow particularly about drive train choice. Increases in benefit in kind tax is generally making company cars less attractive however, fleets still need to keep control of their driver vehicles from an image and duty of care perspective.

Fleet managers tend to have more stuff to do but with less resource to do it, we are getting increased interest in our driver apps and portals which essentially drive self-service. Our self-service solutions are designed to improve the driver experience whilst reducing the fleet departments administrative burden.

How do you see that continuing to change over the next 5-10 years?

As well as driver self-service, more data will become available from vehicles which should be embraced and should lead to even less manual intervention from fleet departments if it’s collected efficiently. If employees opt out of having a company or a personal vehicle, then fleet managers will have to evolve into mobility managers.

What sort of challenges and opportunities could this present?

Managing mobility is a completely different ball game to being a fleet manager and fleet managers must be ready to adapt to this change.

What would you like to see change in that time to help the sector move forwards?

Stop penalising company car drivers with benefit in kind tax as they are amongst other things, a good route to getting new lower emission vehicles on the road.

What’s the one essential item you can’t live without, and why?

It might seem an odd thing to say for an MD of a tech company but it’s people! I am really fortunate to be surrounded by people who are passionate about the industry and how our customers can improve through their use of technology. I couldn’t do my job without such fantastic colleagues.

What’s should we look out for in 2019 from Jaama?

We are currently working very hard on our new Maintenance Exchange product which will be officially launched during Q4 of 2019. The new maintenance and compliance platform will revolutionise the way information is exchanged between:

  • Fleet management companies
  • Maintenance suppliers
  • End user fleets

This is an ‘end to end’ maintenance system which will allow seamless booking, authorisation, invoicing and auditing of vehicle maintenance work.