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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:

Potential for Growth but Many Unanswered Questions

I enjoyed your perspective on the potential growth of EVs in the coming decades that was the topic for the week of Feb. 15, 2021 State of the Fleet Industry video presentation produced by Automotive Fleet magazine. 

I agree that the acquisition of EVs is likely the easiest step in this transition.  As you said, there are many unanswered questions that lie ahead; some of which we may not yet have identified.  

Among the unanswered questions we do know, but many are not discussing are the capacity of the electric utility infrastructure both locally (each building) and nationally; the fate of exhausted EV battery packs and their impact on the environment; and whether or not the buying public will actually want early generations of used EVs as they become available on the resale market; will the worldwide supply of lithium support the growth needed for battery production; as fuel tax revenue gradually declines in proportion to the growth of EVs, what strategies will governments employ to replace this revenue; will the public learn to accept lower range limitations of EVs effectively eliminating the “American Road Trip” from our lexicon?

It’s interesting to witness, from a distance, fortunately, the shortcomings in the Texas power grid in February 2021. The Texas population of EVs is among the fourth highest in the U.S. and yet, many of those EVs are no doubt idle this week due to the failure of the infrastructure to match the demand. 

Stanton -

Stanton

You’re right again, this is truly an exciting time to be in this industry. Thanks for your support of our industry.

Bob Stanton, CPM, CPFP, Fleet Management Consultant, Roswell, Ga.

Managing by the Deliverable

The Market Trends blog entitled “Impact on Fleet Operations of the Work-from-Home Business Model” was well written. 

Prior to the pandemic, management talked about the importance of visibility when overseeing a group of employees within an operation, often referred to as “management by walking around.” 

Orta -

Orta

It took a pandemic to shift that thinking on its head and resulted in managing by the deliverable. Technology has continued to significantly improve, and what was once a practice of bringing a regionally located workforce together for larger group meetings has shifted to a virtual environment. This change will most likely result in reassessing facility needs and real estate strategies as well.

Tony Orta, Fleet Operations Manager, SoCalGas, Monterey Park, Calif.

A Coming Shockwave

I agree with the Market Trends blog entitled “Impact on Fleet Operations of Work-from-Home Business Model” and I believe we are seeing a world where companies are realizing the admin functions of companies really don’t need to be onsite most of the time. 

In my own world, I find working from home much more efficient.  I’ve taken the energy that would have gone into two-plus hours of daily commuting (round trip) and applied it to my craft.  People are less apt to call unnecessary staff meetings and those that are tend to be “tight” with solid plans and objectives.  

In the coming years, regardless of pandemic outcomes, I believe we are going to see a shockwave go through the commercial real estate market as companies cease to justify spending thousands of dollars per month for rent on office space. 

Klynn -

Klynn

The office won’t go away, but it’s going to shrink, significantly.  

Brett Klynn, Strategic Account Executive, Wrench Inc., San Jose, Calif.

(Automotive Fleet reply) Wrench is a provider of mobile vehicle technician services who come to homes, businesses and job sites to service light, medium and heavy-duty vehicles in North America. 

–Editor

Frustrating Reality

Barron -

Barron

In the weekly State of the Fleet Industry, the report entitled “‘Lost’ Spring Order Volume for 2021 Fleet Models,” was very interesting as Mike Antich describes the frustrating reality of widespread early fleet-order cutoffs for the 2021 model-year and current microchip shortage, as well as interesting update on the EV landscape.

Jeff Barron, Managing Director, Head of Leasing National Sales, The Bancorp, Crofton, Md

A Lot to Consider!

I read the Market Trends blog entitled, “Impact on Fleet Operations of the Work-from-Home Business Model” and I wanted to let you know that it is an excellent article, so many areas to consider! 

There are days that I really miss the “old guard” of Milo Matick, Don Fenton, Ed Bobit, George Weimer, and myself being able to belly up to the bar and solve all the problems of the fleet business.

McKeone -

McKeone

David McKeone, Independent Jewelry Consultant, Murrells Inlet, S.C.

(Automotive Fleet reply) David McKeone retired from fleet in 2008 after a long career in the fleet dealer segment with his last position being director of fleet operations for the Bridges Automotive Group, a  multi-line dealer. 

Earlier, McKeone worked in fleet management as the director world-wide fleet for Crawford & Company at its corporate headquarters in Atlanta. 

In his second career, McKeone created a business out of his interest in high-end and antique jewelry that he developed in the 1970s. Today, McKeone specializes as a consultant for antique and estate jewelry with a client base that includes Tommy and Dee Hilfiger, Diane Keaton, and Barbara Streisand, all of whom became clients of McKeone following referrals from their friends.  

– Editor

Worth Eight Minutes of Time

Allsbrook -

Allsbrook

I encourage everyone to take eight or so minutes every Tuesday and watch the State of the Fleet Industry video updates produced by Automotive Fleet. The last few weeks (months really) have been a little intense, especially with early order cutoffs.

Danielle Allsbrook, CAFM, Logistics Planning & Operations Management, Ferguson Enterprises, Newport News, Va. 

Learning to Manage Remotely 

I read the Market Trends blog entitled “Impact on Fleet Operations of the Work-from-Home Business Model” and would add that depending on the type of work an individual does makes a difference in whether or not one can work remotely. 

Vitola -

Vitola

I agree there needs to be a change in mindset with management and many may need to learn how to manage remotely. I for one believe you can hit a bigger talent pool by allowing permanent work from home. I have to say, you’re doing an awesome job putting out great information, especially during the COVID crisis this year.

Lisa Vitola, CAFM, Fleet Administrative Services, Account Manager, Donlen, Bannockburn, Ill. 

The Hidden Cost of Regulatory Non-Compliance

We’ve all seen the many print, TV, radio, and billboard advertisements by personal injury attorneys promising huge settlements for heavy-truck accidents. 

These seasoned attorneys target the transportation industry and are increasingly winning extreme “nuclear” verdicts – generally $10 million or more. In fact, a recent study by the American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI) found that awards in truck accident cases increased by 51.7% annually between 2010 and 2018.

In a case out of  Texas, a motorist was killed when a tractor-trailer’s driveshaft assembly detached and struck the motorist’s vehicle. The plaintiffs argued that the accident was a result of the operator’s failure to properly maintain the truck and the jury agreed. The plaintiffs were awarded $281 million, including $100 million in punitive damages.

A lawsuit against an operator in Georgia resulted in an award of $280 million. Plaintiffs in the case alleged that the driver of the truck was fatigued and, after falling asleep, crossed the center line where he struck a vehicle head on, resulting in the deaths of all five passengers.

In a 2018 Texas case, a driver allegedly under the influence struck the back of a pickup truck, resulting in disabling injuries to the motorist. The plaintiffs alleged that the operator had failed to properly vet the driver, even disregarding their own policies, and that the driver was under the influence. 

The jury awarded the plaintiff a verdict in the amount of $101 million. So, what makes the transportation industry so ripe for such extreme verdicts?

One answer? Compliance. Or, more accurately, non-compliance. Transportation management is a complicated business. In addition to regular business concerns like payroll, taxes, and customers, transportation operators must also navigate an ever-increasing tangle of state and federal rules and regulations. Even the most vigilant operators often fall short in one area of compliance or another.

The dangers of non-compliance can be deceptive. In the example cases, compliance failures in maintenance, hours-of-service, and driver qualification resulted in horrific accidents and enormous verdict awards. But these failures may not have seemed like major concerns to the operators prior to the accidents. 

They may have even been just the tip of a compliance failure iceberg, meaning there were likely many more compliance issues that contributed to each of these ultimate failures. As in a house of cards, each piece of compliance is important, and each supports the others. Remove or weaken one, and the entire structure becomes unstable.

If compliance sounds overwhelming, it’s because it can be, particularly for smaller operators who must meet all the same requirements as larger organizations, but with a fraction of the workforce. Fortunately, there are services available to help operators manage all these needs. 

Quigley -

Quigley

Many of these services offer things like MVR monitoring programs, Driver Qualification (DQ) file audit and retention services, ELD monitoring and administration, FMCSA drug and alcohol testing programs, mock DOT auditing, consulting services, CSA monitoring, and more.

Proactive and holistic compliance management is critical to a healthy operation. Compliance failures can have catastrophic consequences, not only for an operator where accidents can lead to bankruptcy or even criminal conviction for select employees, but also for drivers and others on the road. 

Brett Quigley, President, Quigley Transportation, Management Solutions, Fort Myers, Fla.

 

Women are Multi-Capable 

Meyer -

Meyer

I read the March 2021 issue and wanted to let you know that “WIFM Marks 10-Year Milestone” was an excellent article. Please write a follow-up article about the different abilities that the women have in the field from driving to repairing to managing fleets. 

There are some awesome women out there that need recognition.

Art Meyer, Fleet Procurement & Equipment Mgr., Voidform, Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas

Originally posted on Automotive Fleet

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