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Insights from Chris Shellenbach, Regional Sales Manager at Union Leasing

Posted by Chris Shellenbach, Regional Sales Manager on August 30, 2018

Untitled design (27)I have been with Union Leasing for the past 13 years, covering Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Arkansas, and I can say that the fleet management industry hasn’t changed a lot, especially out here. That said, there are a couple of challenges that customers face, particularly during the vehicle-selection phase, with the overall aim to select those vehicles that will minimize costs as much as possible. In terms of the developments across the industry, the idea of self-driving vehicles is becoming increasingly talked about, especially across the West Coast and the North Coast, but it isn’t particularly being adopted just yet.

Vehicle selection is the number-one challenge for customers

Customers today ideally want to lease vehicles that will minimize overall costs, but the process of selecting vehicles can often be a challenging one, especially for certain industries. Let’s take the healthcare industry as an example—those requiring vehicles for healthcare will have different needs than those in other industries that are less demanding. Features like wheelchair accessibility, ramp availability, and more are ones that are important for those working in healthcare. This is especially true as they transport patients from one place to another, and the need to do so both quickly and safely is key here.

Minimizing costs and adding safety features is important for customers when selecting vehicles

Each one of my customers is unique, and every business is so different—so, evaluating vehicle options is key to helping them minimize transportation costs and improve overall safety. In addition, customers today are becoming increasingly image conscious and are mostly on the lookout for vehicles that will help them boost their company image. Hence, I’m always keen on providing my customers with vehicle options that are safe and cost effective while still making them look good on the road!

Future of the industry: self-driving vehicles will encourage customers to save money

When it comes to the future of the automotive industry, the primary trend that we’re seeing is all about self-driving vehicles. If the question about self-driving vehicles and autonomous vehicles had emerged five years ago, I wouldn’t have noted any potential advancements. Today, however, it’s much more apparent, particularly across the West Coast and on the North Coast—but I don’t see it much in my territory. While there have been a couple of setbacks in terms of accidents lately across the industry when it comes to testing self-driving cars, they will still carry benefits to the customer when the technology is perfected. While some are skeptical about the technology itself, the piece that I’m trying to wrap my head around is liability when there’s no driver operating a vehicle. So, I think that it’ll be an interesting change for us to see happen when self-driving vehicles do take off.

In addition, the benefits associated with self-driving vehicles, once the technology is more commonly adopted and is safe, will likely outweigh some of the skepticism that people tend to have. One key benefit is going to be a reduction in labor cost for operators—which continues to be a major factor across my territory. This will be an interesting change to see happen, along with the effect that it’ll have on the fleet management industry.