I’ve been in Fleet Management for five years now—having started out in Inside Sales, where I pretty much covered the entire country, then going into an Account Executive role, leading up to my current role as Regional Sales Manager. My territory right now is Minnesota, Wisconsin, the Dakotas, Iowa, Nebraska, and Kansas—this is a pretty large territory, where everything is really spread out geographically.
Being prepared for safety and all weather conditions in the Midwest
Today’s customers are increasingly requesting adding features like map functionalities and Bluetooth standards in their fleet vehicles for safety purposes. Sales people, in particular, want be able to track mileage, get vehicle repairs more easily, as well as enhance their vehicle’s fuel efficiency. Around five years ago, this was something that customers wanted to have—but now, it’s becoming pretty standard and not just an option anymore.
Another challenge that customers often face is the need to keep drivers safe on the road, and today there’s technology to help, such as back-up cameras and lane departure systems—which are key features that help minimize accidents.
A recent challenge that I came across recently involved a new customer in the service fleet sector. Service fleets require service trucks and service vans, but a lot of these are Front Wheel Drive, so drivers sometimes have trouble getting to their appointment due to the accumulation of snow. This year, we experienced a lot of this here in the Midwest. For customers, the challenge is making sure that they have the right type of vehicles to be able to do their job no matter what the weather’s like.
The adoption of self-driving vehicles in the region: a long way to go
There’s a Tesla dealership that’s close to my house, and I actually drove one of their self-driving vehicles for the first time recently. It was a crazy experience, and I kept wanting to put my hands on the wheel—it was just a very different experience. When compared to California, this region is a lot more skeptical about the entire stance on self-driving cars and autonomous technology. For example, I previously attended a NAFA event in Minneapolis, and all the manufacturers were talking about the notion of self-driving cars. People like to think that these may be adopted in the next couple of years. For manufacturers, while it’s great to position oneself as an industry leader within the whole self-driving realm, there’s a lot of testing that needs to be initially done before jumping too far ahead.
Additionally, there are other more important considerations for fleet vehicles to keep in mind today than self-driving cars. Fuel economy, for example, is huge especially as customers in the region are generally travelling longer distances.
One piece of advice: Be open to new opportunities and new technology
Some advice that I give my customers is to be open to change. So many customers have been doing things one way for so long, and think that their way is the best. As their fleet consultant and partner, they really don’t have to take all of our ideas and implement them, but it’s in their best interest if they can just be open to them. Our job is to bring the newest technology and the latest things that are coming out to customers’ attention, and to help them save money and become more efficient with their fleet. And so, I think that being open to opportunities and trying new things or even switching manufacturers, for instance, to see if they fit their specific needs better, can prove beneficial to their business.
Shannon Bandeira will be attending the HFMA Annual Conference from June 24–27 in Las Vegas, Nevada.