Before jumping into the debrief of the 2020 Global Fleet Conference, I would like to congratulate the team for creating a highly successful virtual event. If you missed the conference or even a session or two, I encourage you to review the available sessions and watch the topics pertinent to you.
The fleet managers’ discussions are always interesting with valuable input on their views about TCO, sustainability strategy or just on how they see themselves compared with global benchmarks.
Thinking of my takeaways, I want to highlight four key items:
1. Global is becoming truly global
For several years, global in our industry really meant Europe and U.S. Then LATAM came on the map over the last 10 years and now we are now seeing a growing interest in Asia as a region. This is a natural trend as global companies are often organized by region with regional structures in charge of supporting the in-country operations.
Fleet, mostly through indirect procurement, fits into this strategy of helping local operations increase their maturity level with global expertise and methodologies.
The need to have multiple sources of information is critical in this process. In the past, the local fleet organization held that market’s expertise. Now, I have seen an increasing maturity in the international organization of the fleet ecosystems (fleet management companies, OEMs, telematics companies, etc.) that allow an organization to develop a more complete understanding of the local situations.
2. The need for a global COVID-19 strategy
As you can imagine, the situation with COVID-19 was, and continues to be, on everyone’s mind, as it impacts every corner of fleet management and is accelerating some preexisting trends in the industry.
The need for organizations to establish a global strategy when dealing with the current and potential impacts of the pandemic is pressing. This is truly a global challenge that we are facing, touching every region of the world even with countries and industries experiencing differing severities of the pandemic.
The financial crisis 10 years ago taught the market valuable lessons that were put in practice very quickly, such as extending the lifecycle of the vehicles currently on the road. It allowed clients to take advantage of the savings caused by the reduction in miles driven.
On the other hand, this situation is creating a boom in market demand in some areas and flexible solutions are helping them to adapt. So, the challenge is the execution at a large scale of these decisions and, in that sense, companies with select, well-identified strategic partners across the globe have been able to react much faster and much more efficiently to this challenge.
But the most important lesson we learned, both for clients and suppliers, is not to panic. The full impact of this pandemic is still very much unknown so it’s best to make short-term adjustments while staying consistent with the long-term strategy.
3. Flexibility is part of the new normal
Flexibility was a recurring theme across the conference. As the demand for more flexible solutions grows, the pandemic has pushed the need even harder. The disruption of OEM production and the need for companies to make rapid adjustments boosted the demand for increased flexibility within fleet solutions.
In closed-end markets, this demand met with the appetite by fleet management companies not to sell the vehicles returning from expired contracts in the current environment. The development of flexible solutions–which existed already–has accelerated. In open-end markets, the nature of the lease and the usage of the fleets have always called for flexibility in the sense of making informed decisions on when to return a vehicle. But we are seeing a rise in requests for vehicles that would be immediately available and contracted for a short- or mid-term duration. These vehicles are used for specific projects that are either limited in time or very urgent, meaning some fleets need quick access to readily available vehicles.
4. Global is personal
The most advantageous business cases for clients starts with a clear definition of what success looks like to them and their organization. Being aligned with your organization on what you are trying to achieve is key to addressing fleet at global level. It allows you to see past the market differences and truly leverage the full strength of your own organization as well as your selected partners to look in the same directions.
Cost is obviously a factor but when you also have a true vision on both your short- and long-term goals you can navigate through these challenging times while ensuring you find the right balance to reach them. That is why no two companies have the same global strategies for their fleet. And frankly, it’s how it should be.
What was your biggest takeaway from the 2020 Global Fleet Conference? Let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org.