The Car and Truck Fleet and Leasing Management Magazine

In Memoriam: Coach's Insights

Honestly, Would You Truly Recognize Your Driver?

September 9, 2010, by Ed Bobit - Also by this author

Not everyone can remember what a star the sales guy (or gal), the distribution driver, or the service technician was. There was fierce competition to recruit, train, and retain the better initial candidates.

Industry was growing and unemployment wasn't a significant factor. All the companies had great health plans, holiday and vacation benefits - the whole enchilada. If your boss wasn't decent to you, you had viable options to go elsewhere without worrying the family about compensation interruption. Your sales manager or regional boss looked out for you. The salesman (driver) was king! Then came the sea change or what some refer to as the "reckoning."

You can choose whatever source you want to place the blame; i.e., corporate belt-tightening to the last notch; recession-laden economy in chaos; or survival.

Eligibility: Many downsizing mandates curtailed the assignment of a company vehicle unless you now meet certain criteria (drive more than 12,000 business miles/year, etc.).

Retention: It's now not uncommon for replacement cycles to be extended so you'll fi nd yourself driving a nearly three-year-old car pushing 80,000 miles on the odometer. Even when you make a business rental out of town, the car might have more than 20,000 miles.

Selection: Pressured by manufacturers with designed incentives, fleet managers are virtually forced to narrow the selector with a single brand for tier discounts. The old days when you could choose between three brands of mid-size cars are totally in the past. No use complaining; it won't help.

Fuel Expense & Going Green: Here's one that's difficult to fight, or you fight and become unpopular overnight. Not only are you now relegated to a smaller car (no matter your physical size), but you're faced with schlepping around in a four-cylinder power plant when you'd heavily prefer a V-8. The interior space barely takes care of five people so you're restricted with the family on weekends.

Communications: While you receive all kinds of company e-mails daily, virtually any question or complaint on the vehicle can only be transmitted via the lessor 800-number. Strict rules are now effective pertaining to any cell phone, texting, or special electronic equipment in the moving car.

Driver Cost & Conduct: It used to be a pattern that your sales manager or regional boss could vouch for you or make a bad mark disappear. More companies today utilize Motor Vehicle Reports (MVRs) and the legal departments and HR are visibly interested when violations occur and the company risks exposure at a future date. Similarly, the cost for personal use is increasing and new restrictions keep popping up.

Fleet managers still demand that new vehicles contain the best of safety features for driver protection, thank goodness. And the cars are more safe and trouble-free than ever, thank goodness.

Otherwise, there is good reason to have empathy (not pity) for today's company driver. The old days are a mere memory.

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Author Bio

Ed Bobit

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Former Editor & Publisher

With more than 50 years in the fleet industry, Ed Bobit, former Automotive Fleet editor and publisher, reflected on issues affecting today’s fleets in his blog. He drew insight from his own experiences in the field and offered a perspective similar to that of a sports coach guiding his players.

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