Automotive Fleet asked more than 100 commercial fleet managers how they see the fleet manager position evolving in the future. In particular, AF asked: “If you were to look further out into the future, how do you see your job and the management of your fleet changing? How has your job changed since you became fleet manager?”

Here is a sampling of their responses:

“As we continue to grow, I hope to be moving more into the strategic planning arena and less into the day-to-day operations. I think the biggest change I have seen is the need to focus more on total costs. It used to be driver comfort and now it is more cost driven.”

David McCauley, fleet manager, Red Bull North America, Inc.

“Technology will continue to evolve. Working with minimal staff will become the new normal. I would say, since I began my fleet career, technology has been the main driver for change, which is a good thing.”

Randy Burwell, lead buyer and fleet specialist, Valero Energy

“I expect technology will play a big part of changing the way we do our jobs. Also, working with the Gen Y culture will create some interesting challenges.”

Christy Coyte Meyer, global fleet director, Johnson Controls

“Finance and procurement have taken ownership in many decisions traditionally made by fleet managers.”

Fleet manager wished to be anonymous

“Fleet departments need to expand their value in any way possible. I am now managing DOT compliance, as well as off-road fleet activity. This is key to extending your organizational value.”

Mike Butsch, global fleet manager, Joy Global

“There is no doubt the longer-term forecast for my position revolves around global fleet management. With the ever-increasing focus on international markets, we will be managing vehicles all over the world. In the next three to five years, we will have a need for a centralized management tool.”

Shawn Dusosky, manager – fleet financial services, General Mills

“There is a constant need to justify the value of the fleet program. We will again be challenged in 2013 by management on the value of our fleet program despite recent documentation of the significantly lower cost of company-provided vehicles and the non-financial benefits the program provides.”

Fleet manager wished to be anonymous

“The management of the fleet has become more mechanical and automated. No longer is there a personal connection between the department and the drivers. Outsourcing is leading to more dissatisfied drivers, lost productivity, and higher expenses, but can be masked by the FMC unless you take the time to carefully audit the bills. The challenge is now about micro-managing the FMC, otherwise you risk losing complete direction of the fleet. The key is to make sure you are strategically managing the FMC and not to let the FMC manage you. Fleet managers cannot afford to remain out of touch directing their fleet. Trust, but always verify.”

William Forsythe, global procurement/fleet administrator, ADP

“We, as a company, continue to expand globally and therefore the fleet program will expand. The basics of the fleet program will need to operate as one and be consolidated as one to give an overall view. One challenge for any fleet manager is to continue to become more efficient and relevant. We must continue our education, and develop that network of experts so as not to become stagnant.”

Rachel Johnson, CAFM, fleet specialist, Region Americas, Konecranes

“We count on our suppliers to manage the day-to-day operational activities. My job has become more concentrated on strategy, policy implementation, supplier management, and some global.”

Fleet manager wished to be anonymous

“Though fleet costs, analytics, driver safety, and comfort are still the top priority at Cooper Tire, as the fleet administrator, additional daily activities include oversight of our office services department, ERP expense reporting, and company recycling.”

Craig Oliver, fleet administrator, Cooper Tire & Rubber Co.

“As the years go by, there is more and more emphasis on a multi-departmental approach to fleet, drawing in human resources, legal, and risk management into the decision-making process.”

Lynn Fee, supervisor, fleet and facilities services, Energizer

“My job now requires much more emphasis on cost control, which I didn’t think was possible. The price/service proposition has swung sharply to the price side. External groups, such as procurement, are exerting a much greater influence on the acquisition of vehicles and services. I spend much more time reviewing internal and external cost analyses, doing cost analysis on what I think will happen, and explaining what did happen than ever before. One big problem is that people unfamiliar with the industry do analyses and make recommendations without consulting the fleet experts. I spend a lot of time correcting misconceptions and putting out fires.”

Fleet manager wished to be anonymous

“With the current trend, I can only see more complexity, more regulations, more pressure, and more stress. When I started 20 years ago, the work was more hands-on with the vehicles, with more field time with the drivers and manufacturers. Today, I am chained to my desk creating reports, processing paperwork, and justifying every move to the powers that be. Much more stress, much less fun.”

Carl Nelson, fleet manager for AM – Liner East, Inc.

“The fleet manager, if there is still a fleet manager role, will oversee more than just fleet. In pharma, there will be a need for fewer reps, and, conversely, fewer vehicles as technology continues to improve. If I had a crystal ball, I would say that many fleets will use contract sales organizations versus employees for many areas due to costs.”

Fleet manager wished to be anonymous

“Fleet management will become more strategic every year with the fleet manager making high-level decisions and letting others implement and run the program. Fleet managers will continue to be tasked with different, additional responsibilities as their employers realize the varied skill set that we bring to the table. Additionally, as the workforce gets younger and more in tune with technology, the fleet manager will need to adapt to this and provide new and different tools for drivers to do their jobs and take care of their vehicles. Mobile apps will become more common for a multitude of things.

Donna Bibbo, fleet manager, NovoNordisk

“I think the greatest change will occur as companies demand more information about how drivers use the vehicle, where drivers use the vehicle, and drivers’ behavior while using the vehicle to reduce/minimize cost. Companies will ‘intrude’ on the behavior of the driver far more than before to ensure the driver is safe and behaving correctly. Drivers will have to live with the idea that their actions are being monitored and will have to disconnect themselves from the idea that the company car is ‘their’ car. Fleet managers will have to deal with the level at which drivers are monitored, privacy issues, how the data is collected, and what information is reported to management. The telematics industry is still subject to much consolidation, which makes product evaluations difficult due to the large number of choices.”

Fleet manager wished to be anonymous

“A fleet manager needs to become more informed on alternative fuels, engines, regulations, and how to calculate their attendant costs and work those numbers into their own fleet profiles in terms of determining cradle-to-grave costs. My job has evolved to be more of an engineer in terms of understanding these technologies, finding the right fit within my own fleet makeup to use the technology and working with OEMs on how this technology can be adjusted to better suit our fleet’s needs. I also interact more with our environmental, legal, safety, and finance teams to keep up with changing regulations, programs, grants, and opportunities to control fleet cost and exposure. The fleet manager position has become more cerebral and collaborative than any other time since I started in this business back in 1974.”

Mike Payette, director, fleet equipment, U.S. and Canada, Staples Inc.

“My job is changing as I am dealing more and more with DOT issues and regulations.”

Ruth Alfson, CAFM, fleet manager, Serco Group, Inc.

About the author
Mike Antich

Mike Antich

Former Editor and Associate Publisher

Mike Antich covered fleet management and remarketing for more than 20 years and was inducted into the Fleet Hall of Fame in 2010 and the Global Fleet of Hal in 2022. He also won the Industry Icon Award, presented jointly by the IARA and NAAA industry associations.

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