Wendy's Unbundled Fleet Cuts Costs and Boosts Flexibility
Scott Mayo, director of fleet for Wendy’s International, Inc., cites teamwork, communications, the use of technology, and detailed analysis as a formula for success in keeping Wendy’s unbundled fleet on the right track. Mayo, who has 22 years of fleet experience, received Automotive Fleet magazine’s 2006 Fleet Manager of the Year award.
The award, co-sponsored by Wheels Inc. and the Automotive Fleet & Leasing Association (AFLA), was presented May 7th at an awards brunch in Orlando, Fla. The award recognizes and honors an experienced and proficient fleet manager who has demonstrated special business acumen in developing and executing key management policies. A 33-member judging panel, consisting of past award winners, manufacturers, auctions, fleet management companies, and dealers, selected Mayo as the winner of this year’s award.
Fleet Helps Drivers with Tools to Keep Operations Running
Wendy’s, headquartered in Dublin, Ohio, is one of the largest quick service restaurant chains in the United States, operating more than 6,600 restaurants nationwide. The company’s ultimate goal is to provide customers with quality foods in a timely fashion.
Scott Mayo, Wendy's fleet director, accepts the 2006 Professional Fleet Manger of the Year Award in Orlando. (left to right) Sherb Brown, VP/group publisher, Automotive Fleet Magazine, Mayo, Dan Frank, GM of Four Wheels, Jim Frank, president of Wheels Inc.
Mayo and his team of four fleet professionals operate Wendy’s fleets in the U.S. and Canada (approximately 1,050 vehicles), the U.S. restaurant operations of Tim Hortons (50 vehicles), Baja Fresh (10 vehicles), and Café Express (5 vehicles).
Wendy’s fleet of cars and trucks and cargo vans, leased through BLC Corporation in the U.S. and Foss National Leasing in Canada, includes the Pontiac G6 and Grand Prix; Chevrolet Impala: Buick LaCrosse and Lucerne; Cadillac Escalade, CTS, and DTS; and various Chevrolet pickup trucks and cargo vans.
Employees who provide support to Wendy’s restaurants are eligible to drive a fleet vehicle, including field operations district managers, directors of area operations, engineering and real estate managers and directors, franchise area directors, marketing directors, and training directors.
Vehicles are replaced every three years or 50,000 miles. This short replacement cycle proves more cost effective for Wendy’s, leading to lower maintenance and repair costs, and increased resale value, and higher driver morale.
Teamwork and Communication Key to Successful Fleet Management
The ultimate objective of Wendy’s fleet department is getting drivers to where they need to go – safely and promptly. This mission takes exceptional teamwork and communication between senior management and fleet administration, according to Mayo.
He works closely with Rosalyn Farb senior VP administrative services for Wendy’s. They have been a team for more than 20 years. The duo talk daily about management issues, such as budgeting and strategic planning. I constantly communicate with Rosi concerning current programs and potential new products,” Mayo said. “If I see a new company or technology that I would like to explore, I work with Rosi to see if it fits our overall plan, and then we talk about testing and implementation. I have the latitude to explore and to find a better way of doing things.”
Farb agrees that communication and teamwork result in successful management. “I don’t try to do Scott’s job and my job both. We’ve built a trusting relationship over the years,” she says.
“I let Scott do his job and manage day-to-day decisions because that’s his forte. He keeps me informed, and if he has ideas or wants to make a change that will affect the company financially, he’ll bounce them off me, and we manage the decisions together.”
Mayo also works hand-in-hand with four other fleet professionals. Collectively, the fleet department has more than 60 years of fleet experience.
Mayo and his fleet partners – Terry Cather, Ned Hart, Karen Holliday, and Candy Danforth – operate within Wendy’s like a leasing company, managing every aspect of Wendy’s unbundles fleet-in-house.
“We have to work as a team to work efficiently,” Mayo said. “Since we do everything in-house, we work very closely together. Communication is key. We have to work closely together because we basically work in a big circle and feed off each other.”
Areas managed in-house include:
- Vehicle selector design.
- Vehicle ordering.
- Licensing and title work.
- Maintenance questions and approvals.
- Accident repairs.
- Fuel programs.
- Used-vehicle disposal.
- Dealer and manufacturer negotiations.
Successful Unbundling Allows Better Flexibility and Cost Control
Wendy’s has always operated an unbundled fleet. Mayo says that unbundling allows better cost control because he can select companies that provide the best service for Wendy’s. It also allows the fleet department to stay involved in all aspects of operating the company’s fleet.
Essentially, Wendy’s does not want to be tied to one provider, according to Mayo. The company needs multiple resources available, enabling it to seek the best of the best, says Mayo.
Based on detailed comparisons over the years, including examination of the numbers and logistics, Mayo has concluded that unbundling fosters efficient and cost-effective fleet management.
The primary benefit of unbundling, according to Mayo, is flexibility. “Greater flexibility leads to a greater potential for cost savings,” he said. “I can pick and choose the services that fit our needs. I can get what I think works best for us.”
Other benefits, according to Mayo, include better service as a result of fewer delays, reduced cost, customization, enhanced product knowledge, and increased driver confidence and productivity.
Positive Vendor Relationships Help Create Valuable Partnerships
While unbundling requires more in-house staff at Wendy’s, the savings generated outweigh the additional costs. “Each member of my staff is very proficient at their responsibilities, which leads to cost savings,” Mayo said. “Unbundling helps increase our expertise with every function. It also allows us to form valuable relationships with our vendors.”
Each time Mayo meets with vendor management, he reviews Wendy’s core business and fleet needs.
“We have built relationships with these companies over the years, and they take very good care of us,” says Mayo. “The companies that we work with are the best at providing the services that we require from them.”
Wendy’s used outside vendors for:
- Vehicle ordering: Vendors include Al Piemonte Chevrolet, Grossinger Pontiac, Loren Buick, Walden Fleet Group, Bobb Chevrolet, Roby Auto Group, and Dave Gill Pontiac.
- Lease funding: BLC Corporation and Foss National Leasing.
- Fuel: Wright Express. Manufacturer: General Motors.
- Maintenance and accident repair: Donlen.
- Wholesalers: Flexco, Mike Albert Leasing, and Mills Motor Company.
- Remarketing: auctions such as Columbus Fair Auto Auction and Manheim.
Industry Involvement Crucial to Effective Fleet Operations
Mayo’s success over 22 years in fleet has come as a result of communication, industry knowledge, advancing technology, and a unique perspective.
In addition to his team, good communication with drivers is most critical. “If a driver is calling in, they shouldn’t get voice mail,” Mayo said. “Availability to drivers is essential. We’re there to support them so they are free to do their jobs. We work hard at building a rapport with our drivers.”
Time within the industry has also helped Mayo know the system and the drivers. Mayo worked as fleet supervisor before becoming director 15 years ago. He was also a Wendy’s store manager for two years, an experience that provided a unique perspective. “I know what the store operations side goes through which helps me relate to the drivers,” he said. “It gave me different perspective than someone who has never been in the stores.”
Another key to Mayo’s success has been participation in the National Association of Fleet Administrators (NAFA) and AFLA to stay current with new products and technology. “I work and talk with my peers, and I try and find better ways of doing things.”
An active NAFA and AFLA member, Mayo is a past treasurer for the Tri-State Chapter of NAFA and a past member of the Wright Express Lead User Group. He is currently the facilitator for the General Motors Fleet and Commercial Sounding Board and is a member of the OnStar Fleet Advisory Board. He is also the current director of fleet for AFLA’s Board of Directors.
Mayo meets with vendors and potential vendors frequently to stay current on new products and technologies. “I keep my door open to all vendors, work closely with my staff, and maintain a relationship with our drivers.”
Being on the forefront of technology has also helped Mayo better maintain Wendy’s fleet through computerized recordkeeping and faster communication. One such example includes the development of a fleet Intranet Web site.
Fleet was one of the first departments in Wendy’s to develop a Web site on the company Intranet. The site includes vendor or policy change updates, the fleet selector, requisition forms, employee or franchisee vehicle sales info, and e-mail links to the fleet department. Drivers can also file an accident claim and submit mileage logs online.
“The site has helped reduce the time we get new information to and from drivers from days or weeks to hours,” Mayo said. The bottom line for Mayo is that proactivity leads to successful management.