As part of its virtual exhibition 2020, held September 14-17, NAFA offered a webinar on the state of the North American auto fleet industry in the midst of this pandemic.
Mike Antich, Editor-in-Chief and Associate Publisher of Automotive Fleet magazine, moderated and reviewed the situation with Steve Carey, President and CEO of the National Truck and Equipment Association (NTEA), Katie Keeton, Manager of the Automotive Fleet Leasing Association (AFLA), and Patti Early, President of the NAFA Fleet Management Association.
Obviously, such an epidemiological context undermines the economy, affecting practically all spheres of the market. To this end, the three speakers announced financial reorganizations based on the size of each fleet, but Early insists on a change of mentality.
“We expect to see cuts over the next two years. So, in addition to pushing back the budget plans on the agenda, many will have to consider extending the life expectancy of their vehicles.”
Keeton stresses that service vehicles must remain active but sees the deployment of only the necessary manpower.
“Overall, average mileage will drop dramatically. However, many sales managers don’t see this as a major consequence, as they were already working on this equation to do things differently. “
While the gussets of many fleet companies will shrink, for the three experts, the situation will lead to a more in-depth reflection on investment. Carey talks about smart evolution.
“Fleet procurement remains an essential part of the holistic system. However, by thinking in terms of vehicle evolution within the fleet, we can, for example, optimize vehicle equipment to move from a three-person crew to a two-person crew. “
In addition, when asked about telemetry, the President of NAFA honoured the efforts made over the past few years…
“Most of our companies are either in the process of implementing telemetry or have already done so. Vehicle tracking, cruise control, driver behaviour analysis systems… “
… but she raises a flat.
“There’s so much data that you also need to know how to manage it. How do you analyze it? We need to make sure that this technology doesn’t become a distraction for our drivers. “
Keaton concurs with her colleague’s comments while encouraging the evolution of these systems, which, she says, have proven themselves in the marketplace. However, in her view, the security aspect is paramount, even if it costs more and the context is less conducive to it.
“You have to take the time to communicate to management the importance of investing in security. Ultimately, these investments will pay off. “
“We will see more communication links between fleet customers and the supply chain. Companies want to make sure their staff are in cars that they meet government standards,” says Carey.
COVID security protocol
Unsurprisingly, the quartet also speaks of the global scourge largely responsible for this virtual conversation. “What are your companies doing to comply with security measures and prevent the spread of the virus,” asks moderator Antich.
“Fleet managers are minimizing contact,” says Keaton. “Caution is advised in handling vehicles and there are fewer physical appointments. We’re taking advantage of this to make more use of online applications. “
In the mechanical maintenance shops of all companies, the level of back-and-forth is reduced to a minimum. No customers, no salespeople. On the other hand, masks and disinfectants are plentiful. Early adds:
“Employees disinfect everything as they enter and leave. Some even take the temperature at the door. If they have to share their tools, they disinfect them. “
Carey then closes this chapter by pointing out that in enclosed areas, ventilation is increased to improve air quality. This is a critical issue for workers’ health.
Raising the bar
Despite this anxiety-provoking context, the quest for entrepreneurial sustainability must continue. How can we deal with the current irritants in the context of business evolution and continuous employee training?
“It’s the role of the leader to tackle a new set of challenges,” says Ms. Keeton. “We are turning to the virtual world to disseminate the latest tips and tricks for the benefit of personal development. “
For its part, through its strategic planning meetings, the NAFA Board of Directors is constantly consolidating its position.
“We are finding ways to enhance the value of membership so that our members get the most out of it. But skills are updated virtually. No face-to-face seminars,” says Patti Early, as if to endorse the approach of this webinar.