In a recent, wide-ranging discussion with Claude Masters, CAFM, NAFA President and Manager of Vehicle Acquisition and Fuel at Florida Power and Light, we asked him to give us his thoughts on the changing role of fleet managers and why a fleet’s image is so important.
Claude: I really think that the fleet managers of the future might look quite a bit different from the way they look today. What I am seeing is that more and more fleet managers are being asked to interact with company executives because of the profile of their vehicles and fleets in the industry today. Ten years ago, in most cases, top executives didn’t pay much attention to their fleet of vehicles other than they were a tool to get a job done.
Today, some fleets are actually a profit center for the company, depending on what that company does for a main source of revenue or income. And today, all corporations know that the fleet has a significant financial and image impact on their company.
A very well-run fleet, one that has a great image and a green profile, is a benefit to the corporation. The vehicle that does damage to the corporation is the one that is driving down the road belching black smoke and basically tarnishing the image or the brand of that company. Executives are beginning to pay more attention to that.
Executives are getting asked day-in and day-out about their sustainability programs and fleet is becoming an increasingly more visible aspect of corporate sustainability. So, that means the fleet manager not only has to know it but has to understand it, and then has to have a strategy for the future — and be able to articulate that to senior management in a very short period of time.
I have used this example with our fleet employees. That truck rolling down the street is, for the most part, the only interaction that our customers are going to have with our company unless they have a problem — their electricity goes out and they actually have to have a lineman come out to their house and do work, or when they call in and interact with the customer service folks.
But these are fairly rare occurrences. What our customers do see on a day-in and day-out basis are our trucks rolling up and down the road. The truck looks good if it is not smoking and has branding on it that says it is a clean fleet vehicle. That is what projects a positive image of our company (Florida Power & Light); that’s what we want our customers to see.