Automotive Fleet views itself as a facilitator to provide different voices from the industry to discuss today’s challenges. This regular column is designed to provide a platform for fleet managers to let their voices be heard to their peers and other fleet professionals.

Here is what is top of mind for fleets today:

Carolyn Edwards -

Carolyn Edwards

Drivers Need a Voice

Safety is a constant challenge in our industry, and until accident and fatality rates are reduced to zero it will remain that way! Safety is one of our top priorities and we’re always introducing new and engaging programs and products to improve it; however, we need to learn from our fleet drivers. We need to give them a voice, as they’re the people behind the wheel. This boils down to a separate issue – communications.

Everyone knows about safe driving techniques, and everyone knows a scary statistic about accident rates, but we need to be more successful at communicating these safety messages to the drivers, and we need to make sure we’re communicating these messages at the right time.

Carolyn Edwards, Senior VP, Client Success, LeasePlan USA, Alpharetta Ga.

The Value of an In-House Fleet Manager

I am retiring and my upper management does not understand the importance of having a fleet manager in-house and are considering divvying up my duties to poor souls who are already overworked.  

I remember reading several articles you wrote about fleet manager duties and the importance of fleet management. I have spun to my management the value of an in-house fleet manager in a million ways, but a voice from the industry would help.  

Author Wished to be Anonymous

(Automotive Fleet Reply) It is important to frame this conversation as a financial decision since a competent fleet manager can easily save a company millions of dollars by implementing the right fleet policies, selecting the right fleet suppliers, and employing the metrics to continually benchmark productivity, vehicle downtime, fleet utilization, and effective management of both fixed and operating costs.

An in-house fleet manager can work with suppliers and other partners to optimize fleet performance and maximize cost efficiencies. An in-house fleet manager can employ supply-chain management techniques, such as bringing suppliers together as a team to facilitate communication with each other to provide efficient, low-cost service to the fleet. However, senior management must acknowledge the fleet manager as the in-house expert on all matters dealing with fleet management. In turn, the fleet manager must have the full backing and support of senior management when decisions are implemented and view the fleet manager as an integral member of corporate management. 

Mike Antich -

Mike Antich

Senior management must keep the fleet manager “in the loop” involving all management decisions that may impact fleet operations. General management must never enter into any arrangement affecting fleet operations without input from the fleet manager and must give due weight to his or her recommendations. Also, senior management should never bypass the fleet manager by communicating directly with drivers, field management, or suppliers regarding fleet-related issues. In the final analysis, an in-house fleet manager is the best person who can successfully link fleet operations to the corporation’s overall mission. By being an in-house employee, they can keep management better informed as to how fleet is helping to improve and achieve the corporate mission.                                    

Mike Antich, Editor, Automotive Fleet

No. 1 Cause of Wasted Fuel is Non-productive Idling

Ron Zima -

Ron Zima

Fuel is the second largest total cost of ownership expense after depreciation. Fuel represents, on average, 60% of a company’s total fleet operating budget, and non-productive idle is the No. 1 culprit in wasting fuel.

Idle engine hours can also cost an organization much, much more in downstream costs, such as maintenance, lifecycle, productivity, and vehicle uptime.

The bottom line: Non-productive idle is an enormous opportunity for fleets to cut costs with driver buy-in and look like heroes in today’s “go green” climate.

Ron Zima, ADpPR Creator, IDLE FREE for our kids Training, Certification, Branding GoGreen Communications Inc., Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada

Pandemic Fueling Growth in Last-Mile Delivery Fleets

I read the blog, “Last-Mile Deliveries Surge in a Socially Distanced World” and would like to add that driver safety is critically important and the fleet industry should do all it can to support the safety of these drivers. 

John Cail -

John Cail

The last-mile industry is unique in its needs and use patterns of vehicles. These use patterns and varied needs require innovative, outside-the-box offerings. The COVID-19 pandemic has added fuel to last-mile growth, growth that, in my opinion, will be vastly insulated from a backslide after the pandemic is behind us. The fleet companies that will thrive will be those innovating offerings to match the needs of unique businesses like last-mile.

John Cail, VP of Mobility Leasing Services, Merchants Fleet, Hookset, N.H.

Two Sides to the Story

While I mostly agree with your comments in the Market Trends blog entitled “Five Reasons Why Fleet Managers are Terminated,” there are two sides. 

First, few realize that fleet managers are not really respected by most people in the organization as they are expected to deliver the impossible for free. In other words, not a month goes by where some expenditure was “budgeted,” but resulted in exceeding the period budget. In other words, failing to cut costs on a budget that was initially all guesswork and “panel beaten” by accountants to please the CEO’s profit projections. 

Hugh Sutherland -

Hugh Sutherland

Second, the fleet manager is a first line target for criticism when “things” go wrong and under constant risk of dealing with the public and sharing their congested workspace (namely, the public roads) with pedestrians and hurried motorists trying to make up time by reckless driving. Few, if any, appreciate what a thankless job fleet management really is, and this is from one who has lived in this thankless position for many decades. 

Hugh Sutherland, Chief Discussion Officer, TalkingTrucks.co.za, Johannesburg, South Africa

Automotive Fleet's new reader response features provide our audience with a chance to stand on their soapbox and speak their minds on all things fleet. We look forward to continuining discourse with our readers.

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