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New Kopel Group seeks new heights in leasing and fleet services

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Operating in an industry with major growth potential, New Kopel Group plans to invest 20 million euro in its local operations this year and strengthen its position in the market. To ensure the success of its strategy, the group focuses on offering tailor-made services and products to its customers and a stimulating working environment to its employees, Silvana Sima, the Group.
What are the company’s 2016 accomplishments that you are most proud of?
We are proud of our talented and dedicated people, who generate growth in all our business units: operational leasing, rent-a-car, used car sales and Union Motors, our Opel, Dacia Renault, multi-brand service facility, and authorized Opel dealer. To make a long story short, we are proud of our 2016 successes, from team performance to financial results and programs (e.g. Prima Masina SH or The Peace of Mind program). In addition, 2016 taught us to be better persons, more creative and flexible professionals.
What are New Kopel Group’s major 2017 objectives and what is your role in attaining those goals?
We are a team that works together on reaching our business objectives. We are all sharing the same vision and running in the same direction. One of our key objectives for 2017 is to increase the operational lease and rent-a-car fleet by up to 20 percent. We plan to invest over 20 million euros in all our business units and buy over 1,500 new cars in 2017. At our second-hand car sales division, we aim to increase the number of cars sold by up to 15 percent. At the Union Motors dealership and service unit, one of the biggest such facilities in Romania, the objective is to increase the level of activity by 15 percent.  
In 2017, we stay focused on the market and on our customers’ needs. We also look internally at our own operations, developing a synergetic, proactive Group, with a talented and creative team of professionals. We are able to offer all the solutions available in the automotive industry: rent-a-car, operational leasing, second hand car sales, new cars sales, maintenance and repair services.
We provide our customers with a partnership which includes tailor-made solutions, top-quality services, and flexibility. We support SMEs, offering them similar advantages which only the big companies have access to. The professionalism, innovation, and dedication of our managers and employees make us different, under the “Always Yes” philosophy, which is going to govern our entire activity in 2017. We will continue to focus on being close to our customers, but the Group will also concentrate on its employees; providing them with the right platform to grow and develop.
What were the main aspects that characterized your market in 2016, and what are the opportunities and challenges in 2017?
A car is a tool, not an asset. And companies understand now the efficiency of renting a car, and all the advantages that this type of service can bring in terms of costs and continuing with saving their time and while they focus on their own core business. In the operational leasing segment, we are concentrating on supporting SMEs and start-up companies that more than ever need our tailor-made solutions and flexibility provided by our Group synergy. Basically, the majority of our customers benefit from services from all our divisions: rent-a-car, second-hand car sales, operational leasing, Opel dealership and service unit. In the second-hand sales division, we have the niche of those searching for the peace of mind. We are offering “the peace-of-mind package”, as the only second-hand car dealer, providing a two-year bumper-to-bumper warranty, a unique service in Romania. In the operational leasing, we are flexible and we deal with each customer based on their needs, offering tailored-made solutions. And we have the biggest car service facility from Romania, Union Motors, which is open to all kinds of cars and brands.

What difficulties do you encounter in your current activities?
I would not call them difficulties, but challenges. Each day is a challenge, starting with keeping our employees focused on the objectives and continuing with keeping the level of satisfaction of our customers as high as possible.
We work with people for people. And we want to keep them both safe and happy. We want our customers to be happy and become our long-term partners. A customer who buys a used car from us today, may rent a fleet in operational leasing tomorrow. We want to give each one of them a pleasant experience because, in the end, it is all about people.

How would you characterize Romania’s business environment and what improvements could make the country more attractive to investors? What development gaps are there in comparison with other EU markets and how long would it take for the local market to recover those gaps? 
Romania already has almost all the ingredients to be attractive to investors, as a market with great development potential. And many brands and companies have seen all those opportunities. In the operational leasing segment, Romania has some particularities, as it is not as developed as some of the western European countries, which means that less than 15 percent of the total annual number of newly registered cars benefit from such services, compared with a rate between 30 and 75 percent in western countries. Romania has a great potential in the operational leasing segment, a great product for mature markets. In eastern European countries, this market segment has been gradually on the increase year by year. Also, in the last several years, the industry has seen double-digit growth, and more and more we have seen companies using cars as tools rather than assets. This aspect has led us to the conclusion that the local business environment has started to understand that, in order to be efficient and cost-effective, it is better to choose an operational leasing solution for the fleet.
In Romania, there are a lot of start-up companies and SMEs that need financial support, services like operational leasing or rent-a-car. Also, we support the development of the local middle class, which has grown in recent years. We see the middle class as the engine of the economy, because this group comprises active, talented, motivated and smart people, who want a better education for their children, a better car, a better house, and a better life. They contribute to the economy and make it grow. We assist them in their effort by supporting their start-ups and SMEs, and also by providing our one-stop-shop solutions, products and services.

What is the size of the market segments in which New Kopel Group operates?
According to the latest numbers published by ASLO, the operational leasing market closed 2016 with 60,000 units in administration, representing an eight percent increase compared to 2015. Over January – December, nearly 14,400 vehicles were registered by companies offering operational leasing services, accounting for 13.3 percent of the total volume of new cars registered.
To what extent have you had difficulties in finding well-trained candidates for your vacancies, and what strategy has the group employed in order to retain its staff? 
The challenge is to make people overcome the mentality that “in all companies, it is the same”. Of course, the financial aspect is important. They have families, mortgages, hobbies, and the money is important. But, what really makes a difference when choosing one employer over another is the feeling of being valued. An employee needs to feel appreciated and part of a big mission that everybody shares and believes in.

What aspects do you find the most motivating in your job?
Do you know that “today was a good day” feeling? That feeling you have at the end of the day, when you have done something good. It could be a small step, or a bigger achievement, it can be an idea, or the accomplishment of a big project. And it is also the fact that I have the possibility to help children in need. Three years ago, I initiated a CSR platform called “Spune DA!”. In December 2016, SIXT Rent a Car Romania, part of Kopel Group, received the Certification SIXT Glory CSR 2016. The award is a sign of appreciation of the company’s involvement in CSR activities designed to support children in difficulty.

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