GM’s Fleet and Commercial Sounding Board offers a forum for fleet professionals and GM Fleet and Commercial management to candidly discuss issues of importance to the entire fleet industry.

The Sounding Board makes contributions that will ultimately improve the levels of performance of both GM and its commercial fleet customers, according to Rob Minton, commercial sales national account manager.

“We’ve established the Sounding Board to help us achieve our goals and

strengthen our focus on our customers,” he said.

The board is made up of GM commercial customers who own, operate, and manage fleets of GM vehicles, as well as operate competitor vehicles. GM uses this group’s input to help make decisions about future product model designs and packages.

“This group is the true voice of our customer, and we are listening,” Minton said.

The board meets four times a year, including during the annual GM Product Preview and at the Detroit Auto Show. Each U.S. GM region is represented, and GM has expanded the board to include Canadian members.

“We will soon add members from Mexico to make it truly a North American Sounding Board,” Minton said.


Sounding Board Members Make a Difference in Product Design

Pete Silva, director-fleet purchasing for PepsiCo, has volunteered on the Sounding Board for the past three years.

Silva’s participation on the board allows him to be close to the manufacturer’s decision-making process, help his company, and network with other fleet managers.

“This is a very knowledgeable group of respected fleet managers who are not afraid to express a point of view or challenge the status quo,” he said.

The board’s quarterly meetings are aimed at identifying and resolving fleet issues. Silva and his board colleagues provide input from a fleet customer perspective on future fleet decisions.

“The board is important for GM to hear from key customers on broad-based fleet issues,” Silva said. “Fleet managers can contact Sounding Board members to bring issues to GM fleet leadership.”

Patsy Brownson, manager, fleet relations, for Cox Enterprises, Inc., agrees with Silva, and regards her 12-year board membership as a way to exchange processes and bolster two-way communication.

“It’s a win-win for both fleet and also GM,” she said. “The board enables people to work together to solve issues on both sides. We work on them together to come up with great resolutions for both parties.”

Brownson noted the board facilitates a platform for fleet managers to voice exactly what they’re looking for in new products. They are also able to test products for GM and provide feedback.

At each board meeting, members address a log of topics that are tracked, including maintenance issues and product and package recommendations.

“We are instrumental in communicating how fleets need certain specifications included, which can sometimes be very different than retail packages,” Brownson said.


Board Gives Fleet a Voice Toward Industry’s Future

Michael Sims, fleet operations manager for the Church of Latter Day Saints, was selected by his peers on the board to serve as chairman and chief fleet facilitator. He finds board membership vital to relationship-building between manufacturer and fleet, a forum to offer feedback on what GM is doing well, what the automaker does better, and how it compares with other manufacturers.

“The board allows GM to get the customer’s input on how to make GM a better partner with fleet business and be responsive in fixing areas of concern based on information from their high volume customers,” Sims said.

At the quarterly meetings, “GM gets the customer’s input, and we get theirs,” he said. “It has made changes in the way we both do business. Part of being a good corporate citizen is taking the time to work with your business partners.”

Sims is also on GM’s global board, and looks to Canadian fleet managers for key input as well.

“We also have vehicles in Canada, so their input is important to us as well,” he said.


Board Members Champion Fleet Issues

Sims also stressed the importance for fleets to be aware of the Sounding Board and its members, and to have dialogues with current members to champion their issues.

“The circle of influence can be expanded with little effort and advertising,” he said.

Fleet managers can contact anyone on the Sounding Board with problems or issues with which they need help resolving, and the board member then takes those issues forward to the board.

Brownson advises fleet managers to take the opportunity to participate in a sounding board if given the chance.

“It’s a big honor,” she said. “You get to meet one on one with other peers and manufacturers. It is a huge opportunity.”

Board Members Represent Wide Range of Fleet Industry

Drawn from a broad array of fleet industry professionals, current GM Sounding Board members include: