In recent months, I’ve heard many people talk about how the needs of the fleet managers have changed and how employees are asking for different things than they did in the past. To that, I say that change is the only constant. Companies can no longer live in the safe bubble of “that is the way it has always been”. Often, it’s those programs that have been administered the same way for years that are facing the most challenges in their programs. To stay ahead of challenges, companies should consider the following top trends in Fleet, and how to apply them.
- Flexibility is key. Programs are getting more robust, and people are looking for more choices. Choices matter, and it will be the future of the fleet industry to morph programs to meet this desire. From ride sharing, shared leases, choosing to no longer own a car, to autonomous vehicles and dealing with cars not meeting employee needs, it’s clear that flexibility is needed. Flexibility is required to maintain certain characteristics of the industry as it is today.
- The working population is changing. As discussed in my session about the millennial workforce at the NAFA convention earlier this spring, the younger generation is now the largest population of the workforce, but this is not representative of the fleet industry. Many comments I received were about why programs should change when “we didn’t do it for other generations before?” The answer is simple: no generation has been quite like this generation. Why you ask? Read Number 3.
- Technology is changing, FAST! Data is available everywhere we turn, evident by the fact that 3 out of 4 vehicles that came off the production line last year would be classified as “connected cars”. While people still have some privacy concerns about 24/7 monitoring, technology is making everything more transparent. It’s important that fleets choose the right technology. Telematics solutions make great sense for those that have service vehicles such as trucks, vans, or logoed vehicles. They need to know where the car is at all times, and it should be expected when providing that type of vehicle. Other solutions make more sense for those that have sales fleets. Some solutions provide less intrusive models that allow drivers to submit their business mileage and odometer rather than every single trip being captured and provided to the business. The point is—data is everywhere, but making it digestible and actionable is key. Regardless of your fleet situation, data needs to be actionable and have the ability to better the business. This concept is driving change for many, and having the right partners will be crucial for a successful fleet program.
- It’s about Options. Fleet managers are often tasked with managing more than just a fleet. They are managing other employee programs while maintaining the integrity of safety programs, driver training, insurance requirements, and even vehicle requirements. With so much on the plate of a fleet manager, the future of the industry will rely on analytics and predictive patterns.
- Options are viewed as less of a threat to fleet in the eyes of many leading fleet managers. Not long ago, many thought that every non-fleet program was not the best fit for their organization. Reimbursements, allowance programs, and cents-per-mile programs were often considered less-than-ideal programs in the fleet world. However, many fleet managers have learned that there is a time and place for every option out there. For example, fleet vehicles are most practical in certain situations, while cents-per-mile programs are more practical in other cases. Fleet managers are now managing and maintaining mobility programs to protect companies and drivers alike.
Flexibility, workforce changes, and technology are driving change. We are not changing for the new generation, we are changing because we can make better decisions today than we could 10 years ago. We have improved visibility and transparency into many areas that we didn’t before. With the new generation knowing the rate of change from their personal experiences, the fleet industry is evolving and will continue to do so. Continuing to grow your network with peers and partners who understand this change and are helping companies to navigate the waters will ensure growth and expansion of fleet needs.