Leadership Articles

Leadership Articles

How to Achieve the Top Ranking in 2020 100 Best Fleets

“This is not a secret and by no means are we trying to keep it that way,” says NAFA Member Jeffrey A. Hawthorne, CAFM, B.S.B.A. He is the Division Manager for Fleet Management for Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office (PBSO), in Florida. His fleet tied for the top spot in the 100 Best Fleets rankings for 2020 announced in April, and he is only too glad to share the methods that got PBSO there.

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Evaluating Your Risk Exposure 


People who live by the power of positive thinking may be great assets for a team, but it’s not the most important professional attribute for your risk manager.  Effective risk management requires that an organization identify, then separate manageable and unmanageable risks. Fleet risk-management decisions rely on a wide range of stakeholders including department heads, mechanics, human resources and top management. NAFA recommends looking at risk management holistically by bringing these stakeholders together and ensuring they have a common vocabulary and the tools to properly evaluate and manage risks.

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A Risk-Averse Fleet Makes A Bold Decision That Pays Off

All fleets are grappling with the COVID-19 pandemic, and each organization is dealing with circumstances unique to them.  Such is the case with the fleet of 2020 Fleet Excellence Award Winner Chris Schaefer. Schaefer won in the Excellence in Corporate/Private Fleet or Mobility Management category.

“Every fleet needs to be mindful of risk, but we’re an insurance company,” Schaefer says. “We are naturally risk-averse. We have to protect our drivers, employees, and customers, but also set the example based on the services we provide.” Schaefer, Fleet and Travel Manager for Westfield Insurance, has been working from home along with his team members. “We have roughly 1,500 people who work at our home office, so that is a large population to move to work-from-home setups, but we implemented that quickly.”

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Growing Tomorrow: Lessons from the Coronavirus

Of course, communication is always a good idea – but during (and after) a crisis, this is even more essential, as it presents a learning opportunity for leadership.  Collect your anecdotal and analytical data now to create your playbook.  

  • How did staff get around during self-isolation?  
  • Did they park their vehicles and use a bicycle, or even an e-scooter to maintain physical distancing?  
  • What apps were they using to stay informed – and can these be integrated in company software?  
  • For city-based employees: are they still comfortable with using public transport for commuting or making customer-visits, or should you implement a mobility allowance for ridehailing and carsharing?
  • For essential services employees, were current fleet vehicles fit-for-purpose during the crisis? 
  • Countries around the world have undertaken different mitigation measures during the Coronavirus Crisis; globally operating fleet and mobility managers should reach out to their international teams to exchange best-practices once time permits. 

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Together We Will Prevail: Insights on the Impact of Coronavirus in Fleet

The fleet industry has been through economic downturns in the past, but those have developed over time. The coronavirus pandemic, on the other hand, hit the industry within a matter of weeks…and there’s no definite ending to the crisis. As such, fleet managers have found themselves without a clear set of guidelines to follow to navigate their businesses during the outbreak. 
We interviewed NAFA board members to get their insights on how fleet professionals can best contend with the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak, to emerge stronger (and more resilient) on the other side. 

NAFA Board of Directors Secretary/Treasurer Kathy Wellik, CAFM, is Director for 
Iowa State University Transportation Services. Wellik––like all of us––must face this pandemic head-on in every level of her personal and professional life. She says that Iowa State University Transportation Services is taking a few key actions to move forward at this crucial moment. 

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Mitigate Now: Nine Lessons from the Coronavirus

Challenging times call for operational strategies that can evolve as the situation unfolds.

Maintaining the operations of a business in a simultaneous health and economic crisis is a critical concern for every leader today.  

As the coronavirus crisis rages, fleet and mobility managers have a specific responsibility to act swiftly – to ensure the safety of employees, to assist the business in staying flexible, and where possible, to support efforts to save lives. 

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How to Maintain a Fleet During the Coronavirus Shutdown

The government is calling for the shutdown of “non-essential” fleets in response to the widespread Coronavirus epidemic. However, for fleets that do deliver products that are considered “essential,” such as food, medication and pet supplies, demand is skyrocketing. Suddenly eCommerce companies like Amazon are being called on to deliver essentials to a country in quarantine. 

Michael Woronka, Chief Executive OfficerAction Ambulance Service Inc., reports, “The importance of moving product and people by land, sea, air, and rail cannot be underestimated and will be the cornerstone of the foundation of working our way back to ‘normal’ as this pandemic subsides, and it will.”
Fleet managers are responding quickly to the outbreak: Airlines have put workers on furlough. Navy bases have had to quarantine fleet staffers in response to 
two workers testing positive for coronavirus. Yet amid this massive restructuring, there has never been a stronger focus on the supply chain. While auto manufacturing plants such as Toyota, VW, Honda, Volkswagen are suspending operations, vehicle rentals are experiencing an uptick as rental demand from courier and delivery companies increases. 

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Preparing for Natural Disasters in Uncertain Times

According to Patti M. Earley, CAFM, Fleet Fueling Operations Supervisor at Florida Power & Light and President of NAFA, after a disaster, the most important mission is getting people’s lives back to normal as quickly as possible. “For most organizations,” Earley says, “restoration or continuity of daily functions doesn’t happen without the fleet. While there may be some advanced warning with hurricanes, most disasters don’t necessarily give you notice before they strike.”

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Succession Planning is Key to Professional Continuity

Everyone wants to think they’re irreplaceable. Yet when the lottery hits new heights, the lines are long—with many dreaming of quitting their day job. Retirement parties come around frequently. And no one likes to think about it, but people die every day—and many of them are still in the workforce when it happens. 

Then there are happy things: marriages that take someone out of state, or a promotion that leaves the role vacant.

In a world in which vacancies may mean the full-time equivalent shifts to another department or in which a fleet professional suddenly juggles additional responsibilities, having the next hire identified makes sense. And it may prove more valuable than simply filling the job.

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Data Safety: How Do You Protect Your Fleet from Hackers?


Today’s increasingly connected vehicles provide a trove of data and insight, but that brings with it another worry, especially for law enforcement fleet professionals: the valuable data also might be of interest to criminals.

What about a terrorist attack response that is dramatically slowed down because police vehicles are remotely disabled, wherever they sit?

Officers are sitting in an undercover police car, staking out a drug kingpin. Out of nowhere, the car is surrounded by armed men, because the bad guys hacked into the police network to find out vehicle locations.

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Navigating Fleet Staff Conflict

Workplace relationships can be the most difficult kind. They are as close as family ties, and frequently, one will see their co-workers more than spouses, children, and so on. The key differences are that your livelihood depends on your ability to work and interact with your colleagues, and the quality of your organization’s efforts can suffer greatly if you don’t. 

Therefore, fleet and mobility professionals can find themselves in the position of mediator and conflict mitigation manager , with two employees on either side and at odds with each other. 

“At its core, fleet management is a resource management discipline and the most important resource we have are our employees,” said NAFA Regular Member and Past President Christopher D. Amos, CAFM, Commissioner of Equipment Services, St. Louis, Mo. “Workplace productivity is negatively impacted by anything that distracts from people doing their job.”  

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Is Green the New Gold?

Investing in a new technology or initiative for the sustainability benefits alone is a noble idea with long-term benefits—but not necessarily one that upper management will gravitate toward. These days, with budgets being crunched to squeeze out every dime, those efforts might also require cost savings.    

The good news is that it’s easier than ever, fleet professionals say, to find vendors who will offer solutions that support sustainability. Increased competition, naturally, means better solutions—and better results. So yes: “green” can add up to “gold,” but it will take some work. 

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