By Christopher Lyon, NTEA Director of Fleet Relations
This article was published in the June 2017 edition of NTEA News.
Trends are shifting as the fleet workforce evolves, especially regarding personnel and ways of doing business. Retiring fleet managers are being replaced by employees with generational differences or little to no understanding of how the fleet community is run. Further influences include technology expansion and the importance of digital communication.
As a provider of equipment and services, it’s essential to review and adjust the way your company interacts with fleet customers. Partnership is a key priority, and proper interaction is critical. As truck designs become more complex, understanding and staying at the forefront of fleet needs will be essential.
Fleet management companies
With today’s fleet managers, time is a valuable resource, as they are expected to do more and wear many hats. They have been required to become experts on fuel, inventory management and the economy.
Different partnerships can be formed in this changing environment. Upfitters, dealers, manufacturer representatives and fleet management companies (FMCs) all play a pivotal role.
FMCs are becoming a central resource in the vocational truck community. Historically, they were perceived as leasing companies for fleets that had little to no customization requirements. They were viewed as resources to provide a selector list from a vehicle pool and manage everything from maintenance to disposal. Now, many FMCs have gone beyond what was considered the traditional leasing company.
Approaching today’s fleet manager
Some fleet managers are concerned that FMCs are trying to take over their entire operation. It’s important to get past this stigma and create a joint partnership that integrates the fleet manager into the equation. Being open and transparent will go a long way toward building a solid relationship, but getting a foot in the door can be one of the most difficult tasks.
Education and persistence are significant. Having the ability to communicate that FMCs are more than leasing companies (and may not include leasing at all) is a good starting point. Beyond that, emphasize FMCs do not operate on an all-or-nothing basis. A number of fleet managers believe they can be efficient at everything, so showing them calculated areas that can be improved without being overbearing will be helpful.
Once in the door, transparency can be the most important element to this relationship. The FMC is not replacing the fleet manager. Communicate with them, understand their needs and their culture. Keeping them in the picture from beginning to end can result in long-term business.
If you have any questions on this article or other fleet-related matters, contact Chris Lyon. For
truck fleet resources, visit ntea.com/fleetresources.