The Car and Truck Fleet and Leasing Management Magazine

How We Can Solve Our No. 1 Problem

May 2002, by Ed Bobit - Also by this author

I never knew whether to pity or congratulate a man on coming to his senses. -William Makepeace Thackeray


I have always said that if I were a rich man I would employ a professional praiser. -Sir Osbert Sitwell


If you call a thing bad you do little, if you call a thing good you do much.-Goethe


Praises for our past triumphs are as feathers to a dead bird.-Paul Eldridge


Pity the uninitiated. Empathy for the inexperienced. Praise for the "pros." Kudos for the fortunate "survivors."

The real problem today is the widening disparity between the limited group of veteran fleet managers and the ever-increasing band of novice fleet administrators.

Not everyone admits it; few discuss it; no one is doing much about it. In society there are always the pundits who chide the gap between classes. In the fleet market, we simply accept it.

Three or four decades ago, those that remember will tell you that fleet managers were mostly male, experienced and professional in their "good old boy" network.

With the advent of outsourcing, leasing and total fleet management from outside, the internal function began losing stature. Couple with the downsizing of corporate America, the fleet job lost much more of its innate character, leaving only a modicum of credibility.

What are the factors leading to the problem?

1. Too often, it's a dead-end job. The original selection of personnel by HR and management (who rarely fully understand the significance of the investment involved) assumes the function to be an administrative position.

2. Unless a vacant fleet job is filled from the outside with a  veteran (rare), it is filled with someone who is dependent with on-the-job training. There are no graduate courses in colleges for fleet management. Only the NAFA CAFM program and various industry seminars can assist beyond networking.

3. Senior company managers (where major outsourcing exists) are prone to treat "fleet" as they do Photostat or fax machines. This is particularly true when outsourcers reach and influence top execs with the mantra that "we have all the experts." The question arises, can any outsourcer guarantee an unbiased counsel answer; or can there be a conflict of interests?

4. Fortunately the auto makers still deal directly with and pay the incentives directly to the accounts. With the fleet administrator normally answering to finance or accounting or a purchasing committee, the result is pure numbers in the buy with little regard for lifecycle costing answers. The "check-in-hand" wins.


So, knowing our demographics and the challenges for those that may otherwise be relegated to a less than "manager" status, what can or should we do?

1. Inform, educate and influence senior company management. In a perfect world we could visualize a joint effort by the respective associations and the media to create an effective campaign to identify the strategic role of an effective fleet manager. Instead of surveying something like service satisfaction, a unit like the NAFA Foundation, with continued support from factories, lessors and media, could develop and execute a program for executive management.

2. There is a desperate need to re-focus the mindset of fleet managers and administrators alike. "Buying" isn't everything. The greatest single expense is encompassed in remarketing. In an AF reader study just completed that lists 36 different topics of interest, fleet managers ranked: Lifecycle costing - 10th; Depreciation -12th, Residuals - 20th, and Remarketing -36th.

3. All of us who have a stake in the fleet market need to unify in a concerted effort to raise the dignity and worth of the fleet managers; make fleet administrators into managers; communicate and expose each to the multitude of "best practices" that the pros have created; and convince corporate management in the value of that key position.

How about that for a challenge worth tackling.


Twitter Facebook Google+


Please note that comments may be moderated. 
Leave this field empty:

Fleet Incentives

Determine the actual cost of owning and running a vehicle in your fleet. Compare vehicles by class and model.

Sponsored by

VP/Sales, Indirect & Cobrand, Voyager Fleet Systems in Richmond, Va.

Read more


Market Trends

Mike Antich
Autonomous Vehicles will Create a Radical Paradigm Shift in Vehicle Design

By Mike Antich
My prediction is that autonomous vehicles will create a paradigm shift in vehicle design, whereby interior design will become the primary brand differentiator in the future. What will drive this paradigm shift is that future autonomous vehicle design will focus primarily on the passenger and not the driver. This will create a tectonic shift in vehicle design with ramifications that will take decades to fully play out.

Fleet Strategies to Improve OTD for Upfit Units

By Mike Antich

View All

Driving Notes

Chris Wolski
2017 Chevrolet Silverado 2500 HD

By Chris Wolski
During the lead up to the September opening of the State Fair of Texas, I was given the chance to take a preview spin in the 2017 Chevrolet Silverado 2500 HD. It whet my appetite for more.

2017 Volkswagen Passat R-Line

By Thi Dao

View All

Nobody Asked Me, But...

Sherb Brown
Focusing on the Vehicle Delivery Process

By Sherb Brown
The fleet industry is evolving at an ever-increasing pace, but the one area that hasn’t evolved and never seems to improve is the actual vehicle delivery process. It would seem to be the easiest part of the whole business, but it is the one area that everyone struggles with.

Game-Planning for the Fleet Technology Expo

By Sherb Brown

View All

Data Points

Dylan Brown
Does Telematics Branding Translate to Adoption?

By Dylan Brown
We asked over 750 fleet professionals questions about the prevalence of each provider in the market and their brand recognition.

How Fleet Size Dictates Telematics Needs

By Dylan Brown

View All

In Memoriam: Coach's Insights

Ed Bobit
Thinking of the Newbies of the Future

By Ed Bobit
A lot has changed in the past 10-15 years, so we can only imagine this momentum will continue into the next decade-plus. How will this change impact the fleet manager of tomorrow?

Managing a Car vs. Work Truck Fleet

By Ed Bobit

View All


Up Next

More From The World's Largest Fleet Publisher