Claude Masters: The Fleet Managers of the Future


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.

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