Global Fleet Conference: takeaways from leading fleet managers
If you’re a fleet manager, the year 2020 will have been interesting, to say the least. But even before last year, fleets were changing rapidly, and that change is set to continue. In a series of presentations and panel discussions, various fleet managers shared their top priorities to define their strategy.
1. Know your fleet
“Invest time to know your fleet,” said Jean-Philippe Caraes (pictured below, left), Strategic Supply Manager, Hilti. “It will boost productivity when exchanging with partners.”
Know what your fleet is made up of. “If regional or national fleet managers can’t give you a list of their vehicles, I know they aren’t managing their fleet at the level they should,” said Michael Cuzzo (pictured below, right), Global Category Leader Fleet for IBM Procurement Services. His position was somewhat special among other fleet managers, in that he offers his services to IBM departments and subsidiaries like a consultant, taking them on a multi-year path to improve their fleet management practices.
2. Know what other fleets are doing
Fleet management is not a core business in most companies, meaning expertise on the matter may be limited internally. However, managers in charge of a business expense as complex as this need to be aware of what other fleets are doing. “One of the most common questions I get is ‘What are other companies in our industry doing that we’re not doing?’ We also help them understand whether they are practicing or leading,” said Mr Cuzzo.
Staying up to date on what others are doing, can be a matter of being in touch with other fleet departments, on a higher level (global, regional) or on a lower level (regional, national). International conferences and networking events can also come in handy, as can membership of fleet management associations.
3. Focus on TCO and efficiency
If it wasn't at the top of the fleet agenda before, it definitely is now – TCO and efficiency. It's a priority that can be (or appear) to be at odds with sustainability targets or employee retention but fleets that perform the right balancing act can achieve results. In the right context and with the right tools, newer fleet and mobility options like electrified vehicles and alternative mobility can go hand in hand with efficiency.
The first step to TCO control links back to the first item on this list: know your fleet and have a list of all leasing companies, carmakers, insurance companies, energy companies and other partners you may have ties with. In a second step, devise a plan to manage and optimise/reduce these partnerships.
4. Allow for regional or national variation
Not all carmakers and leasing companies have a presence in all markets, requiring fleets to look at other suppliers. Other reasons to allow for variation include differences in legislation and taxation, but also market expectations and infrastructure.
“You should also collect best practices around your market organisations and make them available to all fleet managers,” said Mr Caraes.
Sustainability and emission targets are a top strategy priority for most fleets. “48% of our CO2 emissions come from fleet,” said Mr Caraes. “And now, that’s even much higher, reaching more than 70%, because business flights have disappeared for the time being.”
Electrification can be an obvious way to reduce emissions, but it isn’t feasible everywhere. Robert Hitchcock, Head of Global Fleet Procurement, G4S, said: “The major part is understanding what challenges local fleets have, what maturity they have and what is feasible to do.”
6. Stakeholder alignment
“Stakeholder alignment is critical because we overlap with Compensation & Benefits and Legal,” said Mark Peabody, Global Fleet Leader Facilities & Services, 3M. “There are labour laws that are involved that can be roadblocks ‑ we said no kids can drive the company car but if you implement that in countries where the car is a benefit, that makes it difficult. We also want to be market-aligned for our employees.”
Other departments that need to be involved in fleet management include Sourcing and Facilities. It is also important to get top executives and local teams on board.
Mobility is the way to make mobility future proof, but the path to mobility may be long in many markets. “Leasing a car is the most traditional way but in some countries we’re starting to change,” said Yuliya Lapenkova (pictured, right), Global Sr Procurement Manager, Danone. In a growing number of countries. Danone is now implementing mobility programmes offering carsharing, carpooling and other mobility options.
She added: “Mobility is one of the ways we want to achieve our emission goals. The maturity level is very different from one country to another, though. There are not enough systems in place yet, though.”