The Car and Truck Fleet and Leasing Management Magazine

Assessing Your Position & Posture in Depressed Times

With everyone at every level feeling genuine concern about the future, attitude, knowledge, and understanding may be your salvation.

February 2009, by Ed Bobit - Also by this author

OEMs: the best friends a fleet manager ever had.

Can you even imagine how your life would change if the factories didn't allow their fleet department the latitude to extend favors as a volume buyer? Sure, "Detroit" sells 95-plus percent of all fleet vehicles, and they confirm they do it profitably, but they do much more than take orders.

It's so easy to take the regional factory rep for granted. Same for the responsive call centers, the marketing data generated, the special option packaging, the fluid flexibility on warranties, and the shoulder to cry on when your big boss wants a tight car in his kind of hurry.

There are dozens of additional "special requests" you can either negotiate beyond incentives or make a plea for when you're up against a potential cost problem. Without the major factories' specific interest in fleet, your life would change dramatically. Look after your interests, but treat OEMs well.


Outsource Resources: more integral than we want to admit.

Decades ago, the administration work within company fleet departments was a heavy burden, and it's only gotten more complex. In many ways, we can thank technology and corporate budget tightening for the massive wave of outsourcing. Yes, fleet management companies and other suppliers have become the industry experts demonstrating economyof- scale cost savings and unburdening the fleet manager from many mundane tasks. The results are that fleets today are more professionally operated.

Look after your interests, but treat your outsourcers well.


Fleet-Minded Dealers: the key group too often forgotten.

All too often, both the factories and fleet managers lament about the lack of responsible and interested fleet deal ers. That's mainly because currently only a literal handful throughout the nation professionally cater to either fleet ordering or courtesy deliveries.

To accomplish both in the dealership, it takes a financial commitment, a trained people commitment, productbased knowledge expertise, plus a long-term commitment by the dealer owner to stay in business. All these requirements aren't very attractive to too many dealers when companies and outsourcers both beat daily on the pressure points of rates willing to be paid.

Last October-released Grant Thorton LLP's study estimates about 3,800 (out of 20,000) dealers are "at risk" and not likely to be around by '09 year-end. Your driver might be forced to drive 50 miles for his/her replacement vehicle to find a dealer hungry enough to meet your bartered low-cost CD transaction. Look out for your interests, but treat dealers well.


Drivers: the human asset that doesn't head the hot list for execs.

As businesses shutter, budgets are scrutinized, and headcount becomes a daily mantra, we sometimes are prone to forget the very people who make the revenue to keep us alive. While the people who head up sales and the tech groups are commanding more with less, it's the fleet manager who has a key role. Whether you talk with the drivers personally or shift them off to some faceless 800 number, it boils down to you and your team to keep these nearly indispensable people satisfied and in a positive frame of mood to accomplish vital assignments.

Look out for your interests, but treat drivers well. It's your role as fleet manager to balance the responsibilities of your position with a posture that complements your corporate objectives.

Look out for your interest, but treat yourself well.


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