The Car and Truck Fleet and Leasing Management Magazine

Who’s Not Bitterly Angry at OPEC?

June 2006, by Ed Bobit - Also by this author

People who fly into a rage always make a bad landing.
Will Rogers

There is something about a roused woman...especially if she adds to all her other strong passions the fierce impulses of recklessness and despair...which few men like to provoke."

When I am right, I get angry. Churchill gets angry when he is wrong. So we were often angry at each other. Charles De Gaulle

What we can do to help our company cope with the spiraling cost of fuel, especially by asserting ourselves and getting smarter.

You bet I'm upset. It just cost me more than $45 to fill the tank on my sport sedan, it fell like I'd just been held up by a guy with a gun to my head. And that's a visual.

Just over 30 years ago, we recall that oil was $4 a barrel, compared to the $70+ today. Don't you just wish our income went up commensurately? Even my Southern California home value didn't keep up with that dramatic rise.

Now, I've been an avowed advocate of the "fleet manager" for a half-century and still going strong. We have seen a change in the vast majority of the managers who look after the commercial fleets under "total fleet management." When you are completely outsourced, the demographic profile changes markedly.

It is precisely this group that I'd like to address this month, since these fleet managers don't always wield as large a "stick" as those who handle public sector fleets, or company-owned (and not outsourced).

This group has emerged without the years of experience and without formal fleet training; they rarely can obtain approval to travel to some venue where knowledge can be gained. They are still in a vital role. They are an influence with an internal committee on vehicle purchases.

Unfortunately, their voice often gets buried when they try to focus on lifecycle costs and long-term residual ultimate savings. The CFO and purchasing, HR, and sales directors are short-term oriented and love the upfront cash plan while facing tough internal budget cuts.

So, where this type of fleet manager may have their buying influence diluted, they can still develop important efficiencies in remarketing. Today, and fortunately, a number of attractive and relatively new processes available can make you a hero.

The hot button today for this group of fleet managers (who deserve more respect and recognition than they get) is their affinity with their drivers and corporate management. Therein lies the galactic potential fuel savings dollars (and professional rewards).

Since you are the key conduit exulting company policies and personnel requirements for promoting safety, while limiting exposure for liabilities, you are in a great position to shine now on fuel costs.

I urge you to review your fuel policies. Our industry study last year revealed that 13 percent of companies still don't have a "program." You should make certain that your policies and gas card arrangements are "strategic programs," rather than outdated paper goals.

We've heard so much about how depreciation is our single greatest cost to operate a fleet. Well, now get real. With gas at $3.25/gallon, it is now a cost equal to depreciation.

Be ready and intelligent on downsizing the vehicles: being familiar with hybrids, ethanol, idling costs, tire pressures, and everything connected to fuel economy. It's especially appropriate and timely for you to know all about what four-cylinder engines can do.

Make your mark; fuel costs aren't going down.

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