- Photo: Pixabay.

Photo: Pixabay.

The COVID-19 pandemic forced fleets to improvise policies and procedures to minimize the risk of contagion to the virus. As fleets learned to cope with the pandemic, fleet policy inadequacies were observed, which meant they needed to be updated to reflect the realities of today’s business environment.

Sanitization and disinfectant procedures are now an integral part of fleet safety programs, driver protocols, and pool vehicle operations. In an era of social distancing, companies are limiting the number of employees per vehicle when transporting work crews to a job site.

Automotive Fleet received feedback from fleet professionals regarding the COVID-19 pandemic from blogs posted on the subject through the year.

Here is what some readers had to say:

Pandemic Playbook Needed

The Market Trends blog “COVID-19 Reveals Fleet Policy Inadequacies” was a great article. It offered great advice about company policy and best practices changes as market conditions change.

Coggins -

Coggins

After I read the blog, it got me thinking back to January when I talked with a friend of mine who works in risk for a bank. We were talking about the coronavirus and what was happening in other parts of the world. He commented that he has a “Pandemic Playbook” and it is something that he has never used before. I thought to myself, “Wow, a Pandemic Playbook. 

I have not ever heard of such a thing.” Fast forward a few months and it is something we should all be thinking about. What we all need to understand in today’s world is that whether we had a plan or not, it is time that you adapt your current policies to include both what we have learned about dealing with COVID-19 and to anticipate as best that we can about future concerns.

-Todd Coggins, Senior Vice President, Sales, Element Fleet Management

There is No More Normal 

While we are in the midst of the COVID-19 global pandemic, now is the time for fleet managers to think outside the box. There is no more normal. 

Today’s world in fleet is not the same. Vehicle deliveries are next to non-existent. License, title, registrations are delayed for weeks and possible months. We’ve got to think outside the box to develop creative solutions for delivering new trucks and vans needed for our essential businesses. 

For example:

Kneggs -

Kneggs

  • FleetPride has new vehicles sitting at upfitters ready for delivery.
  • The driveaway companies have all the documentation for initial license and registration enroute.
  • We have branches local to some of those upfit locations who can go and pick up the vehicles that are ready, utilizing temp tags.
  • The driveaway company can then continue to process the L&T and mail final plates to the branch location.
  • All of our ready vehicles have been set up as driven by transporters. We need to change those to trucked and get them to our locations.

Let’s push these creative procedures and take the word normal out of the equation. Let’s push the FMCs to be the experts and think for us! I would love to hear other creative solutions that fleet managers have come up with!

-Lisa Kneggs, Fleet Manager, Fleet Pride, Irving, Texas

Danger Brings Opportunity 

Burrowes -

Burrowes

I really enjoyed the observations made in the Market Trends blog “Post COVID-19 Fleet Initiatives to Focus on Cost Reduction & Utilization.

While the blog gets a bit “math-y” regarding the proportional relationship between fleet size and fleet total cost, it is a well thought out perspective on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on commercial fleets, which identifies the current situation as a real “Black Swan” event, comparable to the OPEC oil embargo of 1973. Fat chance that everything will just go back to normal when the danger lifts, not that that’s necessarily a bad thing.

-Andrew Burrowes, Inside Sales / Customer Service, Transform Van & Truck, St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada

Idle Reduction Lower Costs 

Zima -

Zima

Excellent insight as always by Mike Antich in his latest Market Trends blog: “Post COVID-19 Fleet Initiatives to Focus on Cost Reduction & Utilization.” 

One of the biggest areas for fleet cost reduction that still has largely not been taken advantage of is idle reduction. As Automotive Fleet has reported, last-mile fleets idle a lot, which can generate enormous downstream costs on maintenance, vehicle and employee productivity.

-Ron Zima, CEO, GoGreen Communications, Halifax, Canada

Timely Article on COVID-19

Miller -

Miller

The Market Trends blog “Fleet Policies and Procedures to Minimize COVID-19 Contagion” was a timely article. I would like to add a couple of points. The information we have from CDC (Centers for Disease Control) suggests there is higher risk for contagion on hard steel surfaces, with the virus active for up to three days. 

It is important to pay extra attention to cleaning hightouch hard surfaces like handrails, shelve edges, and door latches. Also, most disinfectants have a 30 second minimum application period – you cannot just spray and wipe off immediately.

-Greg Miller, President, FleetLogik, Inc., St. Charles, Ill.

Spread Ideas, Not the Virus

Early on during the coronavirus stay-at-home order, I asked myself what could I do to help my fleet colleagues and my community? The first action I took was to comply with the coronavirus stay-at-home order. Just by doing this simple act I played a vital role in protecting the health, safety, and wellbeing of my fellow Illinoisans.

In thinking through what I could do to help the fleet industry something important, yet so simple struck me. We are a strong and resilient community and even more, what has always made me so incredibly proud is the willingness of people to help one another through the good times and bad.

When I thought even further, I realized that during these unprecedented times for our world, nation, and fleet community, is that going back to the basics is what will bring us together and collectively make each of us stronger. It’s that simple. Going back to the basics and seeing how an act of sharing, finding the right resources, or advising is exactly the support we can lend to one another as we navigate our new normal.

● Sharing: I try to remain active across social media as people spend less time at the water cooler and more time on their actual computer. I realized that I can be a champion for those that I respect and admire across our industry. When I came across a video by Mike Pitcher, a fleet industry expert, who said: “The coronavirus will test collective leadership skills like never before.” I recognized the value in spreading this message further as this is a time when we all could use some additional tips for leading coolly and calmly in this environment.

● Resources: During this time, the fleet community is very fortunate to have trade publications, such as Automotive Fleet, that are doing an excellent job in reporting on coronavirus and how it is impacting the fleet industry. Further, we all must remain students to the trends and changes that shape our jobs now and in the future. With that said, I put my to-do list on pause and tuned in to the industry’s first webinar on how fleets can deal with the coronavirus by Automotive Fleet, which provided advice and guidance from fleet subject-matter experts from Merchants Fleet, LeasePlan USA, and Siemens, who was also representing the Automotive Fleet & Leasing Association (AFLA) as its president.

The webinar topics included fleet best practices on vehicle sanitation, maintaining pool vehicles, whether personal use vehicles still should be allowed, customer interaction, and much more. This webinar was well attended, a testament that the professionals in our industry are in the front lines and really care about the well-being of people. We are blessed to have such a dedicated group of individuals calling in and the great leaders conducting the webinar.

● Advising: It goes without saying that we must be there for one another now more than ever. People are no longer traveling across the country or racing from conference to conference. We must take the time to connect with one another. For those professionals with a long tenure in the industry, reach out to those who are up and coming. For those seeking counsel, I encourage you to make the ask and call up a mentor or colleague who can help you. 

During the second week of the stay at home order, I was able to help a colleague on a global RFP project. Having just completed one myself, I was able to share key learnings and offered advice on how to navigate challenges. After our call this colleague sent me an e-mail expressing her appreciation and she also indicated the topics we discussed were very helpful to her when she was at a roadblock on how to move forward. 

Dmochowsky -

Dmochowsky

There is no denying that businesses across our country will be challenged, the fleet industry will see and feel this impact and people may find themselves out of work and seeking a new role. I ask that during these times, come together. Help one another, provide leads to people looking, check in on them and work your network on their behalf. 

In a time when the world has turned upside down, remember the basics. Support one another, connect, share and ultimately, be a community that takes care of one another. That is the community we have built and the community that will stay strong no matter what the hurdles. I would expect nothing less from my colleagues and partners in fleet.

-John Dmochowsky, fleet consultant, Chicago

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