In matters of principle, stand like a rock; in matters of taste, swim with the current. Thomas Jefferson

 

That quote by one very funny woman of Rowan and Martin fame (if you go back that far) was typical of Lily Tomlin. She could make us all laugh with a succinct line that could go deep in our minds.

Today's fleet manager is closer to going it alone than ever before. Outsourcing services, mergers, re-organization (downsizing) and changing corporate policies have not made managing a fleet any easier.

The fleet function may diminish in importance with major outsourcing but if one has initiative and truly plies his or her trade, there's enormous strides in economies beyond purchasing that can and should be made.

A good example of what can be done in this era of so-called paperless transactions and transparent/seamless programs, is in remarketing. Experience shows us that most lessees heavily rely on their fleet management company to handle the resale of their vehicles. This, in itself, is not necessarily a negative since lessors have experts and networks to get the job done well.

However, our research published in our January issue of AF clearly shows that lessees using lessors don't collect until over 21 days after turning the vehicle over. That's 10 days more than the average for company-owned fleets who have a more direct responsibility.

Taking a turn-in car worth around $10,000 figures out to be $2.50/day for interest alone. That's $25 for the 10-day period of difference. If you turn 750 cars a year, interest alone can amount to $18,750. That's what an alert fleet manager can do to shine with the boss; and gain credibility.

From our special, first-ever. Fleet 500 issue from last month. I also came across some interesting data; in this case on imports. The accompanying chart lists the top 11 accounts reporting fairly deep penetration by the so-called "imports" (even though heavily produced in the U.S.). This is out of our Top 300 Commercial Fleet listing.

Realizing that imports now account for nearly a third of retail sales and knowing that many fleet respondents didn't answer this part of the study, it is amazing to me to see how deep these imports go in these pharmaceutical, insurance and other commercial fleets.

Again knowing that manufacturers like Honda totally ignore fleet sales and some like Toyota continue to have enormous pressure on fleet because the retailing dealers want all the product, the fleet import selection does exist.

You can bet the farm that the domestic makers will guard their fleet basket which is the last bastion of almost pure dominance. I'm certain that these 11 accounts in the chart will be receiving lots of attention; from both sides.

Percent Imports Operated By Top 300 Commercial Accounts

 

Company

Percent of Imports

Total Vehicles

No. of Imports

Helig-Meyers

25%

2,100

525

St. Paul Fire & Marine

20%

1,625

325

Parker-Hannifin

20%

950

190

Matsushita Electric

20%

1,315

260

GlaxoSmithKline

17%

8,083

2,630

CAN Insurance

15%

1,500

225

Enron

15%

5,030

775

Johnson & Johnson

13%

9,530

1,240

Merck & Co.

10%

4,112

410

Qualex

10%

1,399

140

Burlington Northern

9%

5,023

450

Total

17.6% Avg.

40,667

7,150

 

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