A common refrain from those who are trying to market products and services to the fleet market is that fleet managers never answer their phones. An equally common refrain from fleet managers is that they can’t risk answering their phones because there is always some “Johnny Come Lately” salesperson trying to sell them some snake-oil product that promises to do everything for their fleet except cure cancer.
In the spirit of total disclosure, this actually works out pretty well for us at Bobit Business Media, because we offer some great ways for marketers and fleet managers to connect that don’t involve phones or unwanted lunch invitations. But, that doesn’t take anything away from the fact that our industry has a lot of growing up to do in this particular area.
We still struggle with an industry that moves at a glacial pace. Many fleet decision makers are quite comfortable and confident in their belief that no one ever got fired for doing the same thing they did the year before. And, that may have been true off-and-on at various times in the history of the fleet market, but the pace of change has picked up. If you aren’t looking for ways to cut costs, improve efficiency, cut your carbon footprint, and make your drivers safer every day, you are missing the boat and putting your company and your job at risk.
Most fleet professionals do a solid job staying on top of developments in the vehicle design area. Bless the manufacturers, too, for they do an admirable job of communicating vehicle data to the market through the common media channels and through their annual fleet previews. But, the product and services side of our business is changing at an even faster pace. The technological innovations that have come recently in telematics, fuel management, and safety are nothing short of breathtaking.
But, those innovations won’t do you any good if you don’t do the leg work to educate yourself on what products are working and are best suited for your fleet. In most cases there is no “Goldilocks” answer. But, doing some research on our websites, communicating with your fellow fleet managers, and reading Automotive Fleet, might tell you which one is too hot for you, which one is too cold, and which one might be just right.
Finding the perfect solution is still only half the battle. Most fleet professionals we work with loathe asking upper management to spend money on a new product. It takes a skilled sales effort to explain the difference between spending money and investing in your fleet.
These new technologies aren’t cheap, but in just about every case there is a compelling argument that you will get back two or three times your investment in short order.
Telematics products provide the best example of this. In the 10 or so years we have been covering this segment, I have yet to meet a fleet manager who didn’t just love having a telematics solution. You may have some difficulty deciding exactly which solution you want to go with, but there is little doubt that just about every fleet benefits from this technology.
So, make a New Year’s resolution this year that you will spend a little more time reading AF, going to fleet events, browsing fleet websites, and maybe even answering your phone once in a while. You never know what you might find. The career you save might be your own; or, the dollar you save might help fund your retirement.