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Automotive Fleet views itself as a facilitator to provide a platform for different voices from the industry to sound-off on today’s challenges. This regular column is designed to encourage discourse for fleet professionals to let their voices be heard to their peers and other industry professionals.

Here is what is top of mind for fleet professionals today:

Nelson Estrada -

Nelson Estrada

The Need for Young Talent

I watched the Nov. 18, 2020, State of the Fleet Industry Spotlight video interview with Kelley Hatlee, senior service advisor for Enterprise Fleet Management, which discussed the top five trends in the fleet maintenance industry. I wanted to let you know that it was a great topic. The need for younger talented people to get into the fleet maintenance industry is a challenge for sure.

Nelson Estrada, Fleet/Municipalities Manager N.E., Jasper Engines and Transmissions, Jasper, Ind. 

Top 10 Traits

I read the article in the December 2020 issue about the “Top 10 Traits of Great Fleet Managers” and thought they were  great!  My selection of the top 3 traits of great fleet managers would be:  

Theresa Belding -

Theresa Belding

  • Adaptable to change.
  • Leadership.
  • Focus on the internal customer.  

Theresa Belding, MBA, St. Louis , Mo.

Previously, Belding was the director of fleet services at Abbvie and prior to that was the long-time director of fleet services at Forest Pharmaceuticals and later Allergan. 

– Editor

Negative Consequences

Tim Mccormick -

Tim Mccormick

I read the Market Trends blog entitled “The Negative Consequences of Extended vehicle Cycling and I thought the following quote from Mike Antich was very insightful:

“Since fleet operations are usually among the top contributors to corporate capital expenditures, there is often pressure to defer asset replacements. 

However, arbitrarily extending fleet vehicle replacement parameters is often counterproductive to the intended goal, nearly all fleet-related expenses, both fixed and operating, are influenced by when a vehicle is replaced.”

I commonly see this occurring at organizations with leadership changes or when attempting to navigate difficult times, such as the current COVID-19 pandemic. I thought it was worth sharing this quote with other AF readers who might have missed it.

Tim Mccormick, Director, Enterprise Fleet Management, Surrey, British Columbia, Canada

HR Professionals Take Note

Joseph Gallick -

Joseph Gallick

I read the blog “Everything in Fleet Depreciates Except Fleet Manager Expertise.” I would like to recommend that HR professionals take note of this blog because it is the perfect job description for a fleet manager! Well done!

Joseph Gallick, Senior Vice President, National Accounts, NationaLease, Downingtown, Pa.

Offer a Low Floor Model

I read the article entitled “Deep Dive Analysis of the 2022-Model Ford E-Transit” that was published in the January 2021 issue and I would like to make several suggestions. To separate the E-Transit cargo van from the pack and offer a model with far more utility than the others that can “multi-task,”  Ford will need to offer a “Low Floor” (LF) model with no rear differential offering front wheel drive or “in-wheel” drive design. 

The Low Floor will offer far greater on-off transfer efficiencies of (RFID/IoT/AI) RO-RO carts, including cold chain, which provide a holistic view of cargo (e-commerce of everything - conveyable to start) throughput, starting with upstream unitization and downstream selectivity. This would eliminate the bottleneck at the conveyor to van sequence, etc. The LF is the most productive for endless transfers, B2B, B2C, and D2C.

E-mail submitted by Joseph Farley

Knowing How to Pivot

Jen VrMeer -

Jen VrMeer

I agree with the Market Trends blog entitled “Everything in Fleet Depreciates Except Fleet Manager Expertise.” Based on my experience, being able to pivot from transactional experts to strategic partner is the key for success.

Jen VrMeer, Senior Manager, Operations Support/Sales Operations, BD (Becton Dickinson), San Diego, Calif.

Flat-Rate Not Good for Techs

I read the Market Trends blog entitled “Unpopular Flat Rate Compensation Contributes to Shortage of Repair Techs” and I wanted to add some additional observations. 

Flat rate seems to work well for a shop that has repetitive work, but for the tech, it only works if you have an amazing service writer that feeds you the gravy. Otherwise, you get stuck doing only warranty work, and usually that is not a great way to keep good techs. (See blog, “Unpopular Flat-Rate Compensation Contributes to Shortage of Repair Techs.”) 

I have been lucky, I have had experience running a fleet truck shop for about nine years, then dealerships for a while, but all of the truck world (that I have seen) have paid techs hourly with a potential bonus if your proficiency is over a certain percentage.

Steve Phillips, Diesel Mechanic, King County, Seattle, Wash.

Now is Not the Time

I hear the argument that once a vehicle is paid for, it’s now  free. Well, no it is not.

Mathew Johnson -

Mathew Johnson

Although new-vehicle inventory is low and lead times on vehicle orders are double what they were before COVID, as argued in the Market Trends blog, “The Negative Consequences to Extended Truck Cycling,” it is counter-productive to hold on to older, high-mileage vehicles versus scheduled replacements.

Mathew Johnson, Business Development Manager, Mike Albert Fleet Solutions, Raleigh-Durham, N.C.

 

Five Traits of Fleet Leaders

I read the blog written by Brian Wright on “Five Traits of Effective Fleet Leaders.” I want to thank him for taking the time to write this post. While his points are all valid and certainty exhibit his vast knowledge and enthusiasm, one needs to proceed with the utmost caution in inducing a culture for change. 

Hugh Sutherland -

Hugh Sutherland

In my experience it’s enthusiasm that can ruin your career. Change is a one-sided risk with little or no return depending on the culture and attitudes of both superiors and reports. Resistance to change is the elephant in the room. 

Little recognition for success and lots of criticism and responsibility when things don’t work out. 

Hugh Sutherland, Chief Discussion Officer, TalkingTrucks.co.za, Johannesburg, South Africa

An Important Concern

Richard Sauter -

Richard Sauter

I read the Market Trends blog entitled “Connectivity Disruptions to Cloud Services Emerge as a Potential Fleet Concern.” 

This is an important emerging concern for fleet managers, right up there with charging station infrastructure. I’d like to thank AF Editor Mike Antich for bringing this concern to everyone’s attention.

Richard Sauter, VP Operations, Allstate Leasing, Towson, Md. 

Video was Very Informative

Alan Binstein -

Alan Binstein

I just watched your latest State of the Fleet Industry video report that focused on the trend by fleets to extend vehicle usage and service lives. It is very informative and well presented! I’m looking forward to watching future reports.

Alan Binstein, Director, Transportation and Property Management, The Arc of Essex County, Livingston, N.J.

Nicely Said

I want to reply to recent Market Trends blog   “Everything in Fleet Depreciates Except Fleet Manager Expertise” to say it was a really great article. It was nicely said. Thanks for writing it.           

Lee Pierce -

Lee Pierce

Lee (Jezek) Pierce, Director of Fleet and Heavy Equipment, Nutrien Ag Solutions, Loveland, Colo.

Vocational Discrimination 

While I understand limiting vehicle size (extremely large, extended equipment, etc.) or the quantity to a certain number of spots that allow all normal operation of parking for visitors and homeowners, I think it’s ridiculous to extend it to smaller vocational vehicles.

I do not agree, nor understand, a blanket “No commercial vehicles” restriction by many home owner associations (HOA) or business entities. I’m sorry but not all people work a 9-5 office job. Some jobs require 24-7 response time. I work as an essential worker, a service technician, who serves other essential workers at prisons, hospitals, hotels, restaurants, nursing homes, day cares, schools, military bases, etc. 

When I return home from work at random hours, the home owners association say it will only allow  me to park on some random street, to walk at random hours of the night, because “it says no commercial vehicles” are allowed in the complex. What makes it aggravating is that there are 50-plus unused spots where I would park my Ford Transit van that contains no extra hardware nor is it extra-long. 

The only variance between it and another vehicle is its graphics. I’ve offered to use a car cover, but no, this isn’t acceptable. I’ve offered to park it elsewhere in the complex, but, again, the answer is no. So, I’m left with illegally parking it somewhere, or risking life and limb to get to my vehicle,  just because the HOA says no. 

Author wished to be anonymous

Jason Allan -

Jason Allan

1Q 2021 Fleet Forecast 

I watched the Nov. 23, 2020 State of the Fleet Industry video that provided a forecast of the fleet market up through the first quarter of 2021.

I would like to thank you for the updates.

Jason Allan, CAFM, Supervisor, Fleet Services, ATCO Group, Calgary, Canada

Asset Simplification

Art Meyer -

Art Meyer

The Market Trends blog, “Asset Simplification vs. Asset Standardization” was a great article. 

So often operations have become spoiled to think they have to have only the top-of-the-line package in the company vehicle they drive from home to work when in reality a more plain Jane model would do the job just as well and save the company thousands of dollars in each area they operate. 

It’s time to quit spoiling the upper echelon of management and to give the cost savings to those who actually do the work and make the money.

Art Meyer, Fleet Procurement & Equipment Mgr., Voidform Products, Dallas, Texas

Designing the Right Trucks 

The State of the Industry Spotlight video with Jonathan Kamanns, fleet program manager – strategic sourcing for CTE, provided a good introspective on the fleet manager role and describing fleet operations value. 

Charles L. Schott -

Charles L. Schott

Too often the purchasing department hijacks the fleet management process by becoming the loudest voice in the room, which erodes fleet management procedures in search of one dimensional, annual savings targets. As was highlighted in the Spotlight video, fleet management is best served through longer term asset management strategies linked to business objectives. 

We need to continue to educate decision-makers on the role of the fleet manager and the benefits of maintaining  process discipline. Nice job. 

Charles L. Schott, Managing Director, Schott & Associates, Boston, Mass.

Originally posted on Automotive Fleet

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