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 professionals to let their voices be heard to their peers and other industry professionals.

Here is what is top of mind for fleet professionals today:

Data Overload

The Market Trends blog entitled “Fleet Managers Struggle to Cope with Data Overload”  is well written. From my perspective the common theme of too much information and what to do about it creates more ongoing problems for fleet managers. Some fleet managers endorse having more information while many do not. 

For years our company has worked with predictive analysis for vehicle maintenance as well as driver safety and now GPS. What we learned real fast is not one person within fleet held the responsibility of sorting the details and taking the necessary steps for corrections, with the exception of maintenance. High-risk drivers, whether the information was gathered through our safety program or GPS, are not the fleet managers responsibility that falls on risk or HR or senior management, so what is the fleet manager to do?

In many cases, if nothing is done to correct the problem, the fleet manager becomes numb to the situations that they cannot influence. Plus, with a plate that is already overloaded and more being pushed on them, they simply buckle under the pressure and try to stay “under the radar.” I have personally been involved with executive meetings at companies where multiple parties are making decisions that have no idea of what the fleet manager actually does. 

Bob Martines -

Bob Martines

They simply look at the cost of a product, buy the hype of what the product will deliver, approve the deal, and then pass the responsibility on to the fleet manager thinking their decision will make the fleet manager’s job easier. In the real-world, it is just another burden for the fleet manager. The “KISS” method is long gone and now the administrative process is overwhelming. While I agree technology is here to stay and is very helpful; however, I can pretty much guarantee everyone using the plethora of information is relying on many helping hands.

Bob Martines, president/CEO, Corporate Claims Management, Ivyland, Pa.

Is Amazon Future Proof?

Kevin Campbell -

Kevin Campbell

I read your “Market Trends” piece in the September 2020 issue of Automotive Fleet  – good stuff! I think the current iteration of the milk truck is the Amazon delivery van – they are everywhere!

Kevin Campbell, manager – fleet services & automotive procurement, City of Chicago

The Time to Act is Now

I enjoyed the State of the Fleet Industry video that presented reasons why August fleet offers are down despite the emerging economic recovery. The video touched upon a lot of great topics. 

I am of the belief, and so are many others, that the rise in economic numbers is just starting to get back where we were. The stock market is not the economy and when it gets down to what is happening in the economy, many senior managers see a slower recovery, so they do not want to have capital spend like acquiring new vehicles. 

I also believe we should all partner together to prove to these senior managers that now is the time to replace current vehicles (even if mileage has been reduced or because mileage has been reduced) with a used vehicle market that is approaching the best ever. Selling used vehicles now will provide a lower cents per mile (CPM) on the existing vehicle that was not projected three years ago. 

Mike Slevin -

Mike Slevin

The new vehicle that is ordered with OEM warranties and more fuel efficiency and technology will keep the rep productive while reducing costs and maintain high resale into the future because of new-vehicle price increases (mostly due to safety and technology advances). The reason for the order reduction is because we, as an industry, need to do a better job of showing management that not replacing vehicles now will do the exact opposite of what they think they are doing – much like most people think economy is good because of a good stock market.

Mike Slevin, manager, commercial sales, Hyundai Motor America, Harrison, Ohio

Excellent Insight 

Braden Adams -

Braden Adams

The Market Trends editorial in the October 2020 issue entitled “The Evolution of Fleet Data into a Macro-Business Intelligence Tool,”  was a great article with excellent insight into how important proper fleet management can be.

Braden Adams, fleet manager, Pioneer Human Services, Seattle, Wash.

The Right Thing to Do

You got it right with the Market Trends blog “The Evolving Challenges in Fleet Safety Management,” especially the below sentence taken from the blog: “Although fleet safety can reduce fleet costs, the more important reason to make it your No. 1 job priority is because it’s the right thing to do. Your actions (or inactions) can be the difference that prevents (or contributes) to a family tragedy.”

Jonathan Kamanns -

Jonathan Kamanns

I’ve had the incredible good fortune of developing, deploying, re-developing, and re-deploying fleet safety and driver-risk management programs and initiatives for some progressive safety-forward organizations. Each had their unique business cases with differing goals and deliverables. However, all of them had the same headliner.

Savings lives is the right thing to do.

Jonathan Kamanns, fleet program manager, CTE (Carolina Tractor and Equipment Company), Charlotte, N.C.

Creating Actionable Data

Michael Nowak -

Michael Nowak

The Market Trends editorial on fleet safety management was a great article.

It does seem like there is more and more data available, but it’s harder and harder to make it actionable.

Michael Nowak, Chief Information Officer, Utilimarc, Minneapolis, Minn.

A Word of Caution

I just read the Market Trends editorial in the July 2020 issue of Automotive Fleet and boy are you spot on with your insightful remarks! (See “Reduction in Fleet Costs is Temporary and Will Regress to Pre-Pandemic Levels.”)

Where do I begin, but with your ending statement: “…embrace the belief that the more things change, the more they will remain the same.”

In Columbus we continue to experience reductions of work orders anywhere from 18-24% monthly over same period last year. We cannot be deceived with this anomaly and I continue to remind the director of finance that while we anticipate substantial savings from our parts budget, this is short lived and should NOT impact our budget for next year. 

You also make the point of positives and negatives – well here’s the negative for us; we typically spend about  $6-9 million annually on light duty vehicles and I suspect that these replacement funds will be severely limited for next year  given our revenue shortfalls projected for this FY ending 2020 and again right into FY 2021.  

This is not the end of the world for us! Because we have been so aggressive in “the good” years with replacements it may not be the end of the world for one year, but much past this and it will adversely impact our maintenance expenses.  

To your earlier point – “fleets will remain the same” – we can’t allow our replacement standards and vehicle lifecycles to be thrown out the window, but must continue to schedule, plan and fight for much needed and necessary replacement funds. 

It has taken me 12 years to get the fleet into shape (right sized & right aged) and I do not want to see us lose the edge with faulty analysis by a rogue budget analyst (though he/she may have the best intentions). 

Kelly W. Reagan -

Kelly W. Reagan

 

As a fleet professional we all know that fleets will still age, fleets will cost more as  they age, divisions still need reliable vehicles to complete their missions and fleet remains every end users greatest advocate and knows what’s  best for everything related to a vehicle, “fit to finish” I always say! My word of caution is do not ever abdicate your authority and inform, inform, and inform some more to the policy makers to ensure delivering excellent services to the  many committed  employees in your city. Great article!

Kelly W. Reagan, fleet administrator, City of Columbus, Columbus, Ohio

Lives Depend on It

David Deslauriers -

David Deslauriers

The Market Trends editorial in the August 2020 issue was very thought provoking.

Safety is one topic that can’t be brought up enough. Lives literally depend on it.

David Deslauriers, business development executive, Motorlease Corporation, Farmington, Conn.

Post-COVID Business Norms

Well, as everything is cyclical, we are sure to come out of this pandemic (and its life-altering ways) in 2021. It seems that “normal” business has already been completely scrapped for the remainder of 2020, although it was expected early-on, that we’d be back to business as usual by late summer. Not the case, apparently… 

So, it seems that the dawn of 2021 will get us into a renewed psychology, of making new starts, and getting back to business life in a more “old normal” way (at least I can hope). That said, I and many of my colleagues and peers have expressed a strong doubt that we will be allowed back into offices and industry gatherings, even after the “all-clear” is unofficially sounded in 2021. 

I can hear it now, when calling clients and prospects to arrange meetings, that we will receive the following response: “I know we’re back to work, but we can’t have any outside visitors in this building.” Another roadblock to getting in front of key fleet decision-makers. 

Ross Friedmann -

Ross Friedmann

My purpose in consulting you is ask your opinion of this scenario, and if you have begun to check the pulse of fleet managers/decision-makers, as to their thoughts on meeting with suppliers personally. Also, what are you hearing about resuming the industry events, which are so valuable for connecting and networking within our industry?

Ross Friedmann, manager, commercial sales, Hyundai Motor America, Chicago, Ill.

(Automotive Fleet Reply) Excellent observations Ross and we are both on the same wavelength. The problem for calendar-year 2021 will be gaining access to your customers at their offices. 

Whether you will be able to visit or not is out of the hands of fleet managers or procurement personnel. These decisions will be senior management mandates made in consultation with HR, EHS, and Legal. I think what will govern the strictness of these mandates will be how universal the compliance by the general public will be to taking vaccines. 

Mike Antich -

Mike Antich

However, what I am hearing from many people is that they have “cabin fever” and want to get out. While they may not be meeting in an office setting, they may instead meet in outdoor social settings such as outdoor dining. 

Also, I think virtual meetings will become ingrained in our daily work lives and interaction between companies. Yes, the pandemic will drive a lot of this, but I think an even greater factor is that it will be a generational preference. Check out the Market Trends blog written pre-pandemic in Sept. 24, 2018 that was entitled “New Data Confirms Next-Gen Employees Prefer Fewer Face-to-Face Meetings.” 

- Editor

Automotive Fleet's new reader response features provide our audience with a chance to speak their minds on all things fleet. Please share any observations and comments on fleet topics you'd like Automotive Fleet to cover.

 

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