Managing the Financial Side of Commercial Fleets

Motorists Streamlines Fleet Processes While Cutting Costs

The Motorists Insurance Group pays attention to the smallest details to maximize its fleet results, allowing the companies' fleet team to keep service high, minimize costs, and elevate driver productivity.

March 2009, by Cheryl Knight - Also by this author

Lisa Price, Office Services Supervisor; Michael Lisi, Assistant Vice President, Office Services; and Karen Macioce, Office Services Technical Clerk.

In 1928, Motorists Mutual Insurance Co. sprang to life with an initial investment of $15,000 and a philosophy that remains the foundation of the company to this day: "Do what is best for policyholders, agents, sales representatives, and associates."

Motorists Mutual is the lead company of The Motorists Insurance Group. The group of companies includes five property and casualty insurance companies, one life insurance company, and two brokerages.

Motorists has assets of more than $1.5 billion and markets competitive personal, commercial, and life insurance products through a network of thousands of agents and sales representatives.

Through the years, Motorists has developed pioneering policyholder coverages that have become industry standards, fostered a strong working relationship with independent agents, and created an environment for performance and innovation.

Motorists' founding formula of employing "smart people" and looking for creative solutions still works to this day. The Group continues to look to the future with a singular vision and purpose: To be the best choice possible for policyholders, agents, and associates.


Motorists Stays Conservative

According to Michael Lisi, assistant vice president, Office Services, the organization can more easily remain fiscally conservative because it is a group of mutual companies.

"Because we are owned by our policyholders, we can plan over longer periods and ensure what we do is in the best long-term interests of policyholders, agents, and associates," Lisi said.

Lisi partners with Lisa Price, Office Services supervisor, and Karen Macioce, Office Services technical clerk, to handle facilities, commercial real estate functions, corporate relocations, fire and safety, shipping, purchasing, special printing needs, and fleet for the Group's Columbus, Ohio, headquarters. They also support and consult with Motorists' affiliated companies in all these areas.

The companies' fleet (225 vehicles) is composed mainly of the Chevrolet Impala.

"We try to fit a broad base of needs with one vehicle model to keep costs down," Lisi said. "And keeping to just a couple of sources when buying vehicles helps us get a low net cost while still getting a decent incentive from the manufacturer."


Attention to Detail Translates Into Big Service Impact

A main goal of Motorists' fleet team is to provide a high level of service to fleet customers by anticipating needs and staying on top of industry best practices to deliver the right products and services.

"When competing for associates, we must ensure our fleet services are equal to and, in many ways, better than what they might be used to," Lisi said. "We try to make things work financially and then make sure the vehicle and processes are seamless. We do it right and try to save money wherever we can. This also allows us to attract and retain talent moving forward."

The fleet team also must remain engaged internally with other divisions to deliver service and measure the effect of that service. Lisi and his team value their communication with other departments because it allows them to deliver the highest level of service to drivers.

"All vendors we work with must provide the best possible service at the lowest possible cost," Lisi said. "We do periodic reviews and requests for proposals to ensure we are getting the best possible pricing. We also don't necessarily take the lowest bidder. Relationships are valued. Our vendors know this, and it helps them to provide us the high level of service we want."

Lisi and his team also "worry about the details because they translate into big results," including running an internal fleet Web site and selling fleet cars to associates or agents before going to auctions.

An online bidding system has been set up to automate the process. Selling to associates and agents eliminates auction fees Motorists would have to pay otherwise. The fleet team does use auctions when necessary, choosing those venues that consistently pro-vide a high rate of return to maximize dollars.

"The employee sales program has been beneficial for both the company and employees," according to Price. "Employees benefit by being able to purchase a good used car at a reasonable price."

Employees have access to all maintenance records and can feel confident the vehicle has been maintained properly, Price added.

"And the Group benefits because we can sell the vehicles without paying any auction or transportation fees," she said.

Another internal protocol includes the fleet team handling all auto titles, thus eliminating fees from an outside source.

"We implement best practices of larger fleets through benchmarking and then assimilate policies and procedures to our operations seamlessly without adding people," Lisi said.

Benchmarking allows Motorists' fleet to remain productive and cost-effective compared to the industry. Lisi pointed out that being a part of the larger fleet community really helps the team excel.

"We are members of NAFA and AFLA, we subscribe to fleet publications like Fleet Financials - our senior officer has his own copy - and we work closely with our fleet administration company, Donlen Corp., to stay on top of industry best practices and issues that affect our fleet operation," Lisi said.

The main priority for Lisi, Price, and Macioce is to know what is working best, what is not working well, and how to quickly adjust to provide the highest level of service while remaining cost-effective. Motorists accomplishes these important priorities with a small staff that deals with other day-to-day duties besides fleet.

"Communication is not only important, it is essential to build a successful working relationship and a fleet program that works with our fleet customers," Macioce said. "Our objective as a team in Office Services is to provide excellent and consistent service with all of our fleet customers."

Superior communication and service is fostered through an internal service program, called MAX Service, which allows the Motorists fleet team to consider all operational factors. Macioce added that this total view enhances decision-making processes, whether selecting a vehicle to suit the fleet driver needs or providing the best service and safety practices at any given time.

"This is why it is imperative to recognize, anticipate, and understand all our drivers' needs," she said. "It is essential to have a program that works, one that keeps our fleet drivers happy and is an attractive perk to new prospective associates and/or fleet customers."

This constant communication remains key for the team, which communicates to drivers during on-site meetings, by e-mail, and through a monthly newsletter that highlights safety and proper car operation.

"We have raised communications by publishing a fleet newsletter to all drivers," Lisi said. "We also communicate how driving habits can greatly affect costs."

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  1. 1. todd haywood [ May 23, 2014 @ 12:56PM ]

    Michael let's have anal flightlessness


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