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How Fleet Management Companies Prepped for Irma

September 07, 2017, by Paul Clinton - Also by this author

Irma forcast graphic via The Weather Channel.
Irma forcast graphic via The Weather Channel.

Fleet management companies put in place resources for commercial fleets with vehicles in South Florida that may have suffered damage from Hurricane Irma. They helped drivers locate fuel, identified replacement units, and managed an influx of calls from drivers.

In the days leading up to the storm's landfall in the Florida Keys on Sept. 10, several fleet management companies began helping their commercial fleet customers locate fuel for their drivers. At least 40% of the stations in the Miami-Fort Lauderdale area have run out of gasoline, reports CNN Money.

Element set up a Fuel Finder Map to help drivers locate stations. The map combines weather data and shows stations that have shown recent fuel transactions. It's updated three times a day (10 a.m., 1 p.m., and 4 p.m. East Coast time).

LeasePlan USA has begun working with its fleet clients to check fuel authorization limits for drivers in the path of the storm.

"A simple adjustment to the profile can allow for fueling multiple times in one day, which is a scenario that we know can arise as fuel runs scarce in the coming days," said Juan Perez, LeasePlan's senior vice president of operations. "Drivers can also use the WEX fuel locator in the MyLeasePlan driver app to identify active stations."

LeasePlan has also been posting storm updates on a dedicated Irma website.

Fleet management companies are bracing for a wave of calls from storm-impacted areas in Florida and Texas from affected drivers.

"Our team is prepared for a potential influx of calls from both Texas and Florida areas impacted by the storms," said Mark Hayes, Element's chief marketing officer. "Element call centers will prioritize calls from both Florida and Texas area codes impacted by the storms to ensure prompt service, and we are reaching out directly to customers and drivers to provide resources and assess their needs."

The companies have also been working with manufacturers and car rental providers to secure replacement vehicles for the short and longer term.

Donlen has benefited from its ties to parent Hertz Global Holdings that will help those who need replacement vehicles in Florida. The company has been securing rental vehicles in Houston for victims of Hurricane Harvey.

"Hertz is bringing in thousands of vehicles from across the country to support customers that were impacted by Harvey to serve insurance partners, FEMA and other catastrophe teams to help them assist those impacted by the storm," said Carlos Oropeza, Donlen's marketing director.

Element has asked its rental car partners to prioritize requests from its drivers. The company has also identified several pools of new vehicles from manufacturers, upfitters, dealerships, and remarketing channels to create an internal marketplace of vehicle inventory, Hayes said.

Wheels, Inc. has begun following its disaster-response plan to help fleets with vehicles in South Florida deal with the impact of the storm.

"We are reaching out to dealers and suppliers to verify vehicle status on deliveries and working across our supply chain to move them to safe location," said Steve Wolff, vice president of operations. "We are partnering with our supply chain to identify any potential risk and then reaching out to clients to advise them of status and potential actions."

For vehicles it consigns for sale in remarketing channels, Merchants Fleet Management has developed agreements with its auction partners to ensure its vehicles are "secured in high ground locations with low flood potential," said Tracy Durocher, a company spokesperson.

Several of the fleet management companies also work with fleets ahead of time to develop policies, procedures, and action plans in the case of a natural disaster.

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