I’m located in New York, covering New Jersey, New York City, and Delaware. I’ve been doing this for almost 37 years, so that’s pretty much my entire career. When I first started, in 1980, I was with Hertz Car Leasing in Manhattan. Back then, the business in general was very transactional—customers essentially leased vehicles and made their monthly payments, and that was pretty much the process. Following this, I moved to a company called Leasing Associates, and was there until 1993. Again, the experience I had here was that the business was very transactional, and it was mostly based on relationships. When the company closed its New York office, it was then that I moved to General Electric.
Working at General Electric was a whole other world. It was quite different, in that the company was always trying to come up with the latest and greatest—it offered a large variety of products to customers, like self-serve reporting. I worked at GE for 18 years and, while it was a difficult place to work at, I did learn a lot about the business. I then joined Union Leasing 10 years ago, and I’ve witnessed the company grow and become much more at the forefront of the industry. It’s been a lot of fun!
The industry has evolved to become more customer focused
In my experience, customer focus has become more prominent throughout the years. Today, fleet management companies have to proactively realize the nuances of their customers as opposed to just jamming information to them, thinking that a particular type of information or product is what they need. For example, a recent experience I had was with a construction company that was mostly interested in whether or not we’re able to effectively take care of them. They were mostly concerned with us getting things done quickly for them, and constantly providing them with the information they need.
That said, I think it’s important to look at each customer differently because each is unique, while keeping in mind that not everyone is on the cutting edge of technology. Today, customers are more interested in receiving highly personalized attention than being able to go online and push all the reports themselves—and that’s just based on my experience.
This is what’s great about working at Union Leasing—we’ve progressed our technology while also realizing that every customer is different, requiring varying business needs.
Vehicle selection is often a challenge for customers in the region
In my region, a lot of my customers are in the construction space and their needs are quite specific—and unfortunately they can’t afford to wait for a long time to order vehicles. My challenge has therefore been to find enough vehicles for them, close to where they need them. Another challenge has been finding good, fleet-minded dealers we’re able to effectively cooperate with and have them deliver vehicles quickly for customers.
Future trends in the fleet management industry
A lot has been changing in the industry—initially, people were really into electric vehicles and fuel-efficient vehicles, and I think this has died out to some extent as the industry is moving towards the idea of self-driving vehicles instead. New York is such a congested area, so I’m a little skeptical when it comes to figuring out if self-driving vehicles will ever be a thing here. The city is busy, too narrow, and too congested—so I’m not sure how self-driving vehicles will lend themselves here when the technology is perfected.
Also, my other stance when it comes to the topic of self-driving vehicles is that everybody has to be all in or not—think about it from a 50/50 perspective, I just wonder how efficient it’ll be or how it’s going to work. While it sounds great in theory—on an open road, sure, but imagine self-driving vehicles on the roads in Manhattan—it’ll be a challenge!
The other point is that, for those leasing vehicles, switching to a self-driving vehicle is not only going to be more expensive, but companies would still have to put drivers in the vehicles—and will have to pay them, too. Frankly, I just don’t think that companies that are looking for fleets of vehicles are going to invest in self-driving vehicles on top of their drivers, technicians, etc.
However, it’s important to remember that every customer is different and has a different need. In my point of view and based on my experience, at Union Leasing we are able to effectively serve the unique needs of our customers.