Coronavirus and the Fleet and Mobility Management Community
NAFA Fleet Management Association continues to work with a host of federal, travel and transportation partners to keep our members updated with the most current resources and information regarding the current situation related to infectious diseases impacts and methods to limit its spread. Because many of you are on the front lines and in some cases are first responders, it is important for you to have the resources and information to respond.
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Assocation Partner Resources
In a time of uncertainty, knowing where to turn for support and insight is critical. NTEA, AFLA and NAFA take that responsibility very seriously, which is why your association partners are working together to help your business, while you keep the world moving forward.
The three organizations believe an informed community will help the industry emerge stronger after the pandemic, and this collaboration reflects the commercial vehicle industries spirit of community and cooperation. We recognize the importance of shared, accessible resources to promote positive outcomes for all of our combined stakeholders who play an essential and pivotal role in their communities and for our nation.
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Advocacy, Legislative and Policy Updates
- Groups Push for Gas Tax Increase in Coronvirus Relief Legislation
- IRS FAQs on Paid Leave and Employee Retention Tax Credits
- Treasury Releases Guidance on CARES Act Small Business Loans
- Automaker Floats New "Cash-for-Clunkers" Program
- Largest Economic Stimulus in U.S. History Becomes Law
- DOL Issues Additional Guidance on Coronavirus-Related Paid Leave Requirements
- DHS Issues Updated Essential Workforce Guidance
- REAL ID Enforcement Deadline Postponed
- Coronavirus Relief Bill Signed into Law and IRS Issues Guidance
- Coronavirus (Covid-19) Economic Response Update
- Key Points From the Federal Government Stimulus Package For Fleet Managers
NAFA Member Stories, Best Practices and Advice
NAFA has received many powerful stories from members on managing Covid-19 with their teams. These fleet professionals offered a glimpse into their preparation, adaptation, and next steps into our “new normal.” Here is a sampling of their responses serving as a preview to a NAFA’s whitepaper playbook analyzing the fleet strategies and operations managing through the Codid-19 crisis.
A tale of two fleets, different in nearly every respect but for one: the logistics of moving people from place to place. Make that two: their ability to accomplish their work has been completely reshaped, sometimes completely undermined, by the spread of Covid-19.
We caught up with two NAFA members to talk about their current challenges; they wanted to show their solidarity with other fleets and NAFA members who are also experiencing this shared history.
They requested anonymity, as their work situations are sensitive.
The current pandemic has created a new set of challenges for NAFA members. We caught up with a Fleet District Manager (he asked to remain anonymous) for a toll road agency in the Central United States to get his field report.
The majority of his management team is working from home, so the fleet is not operating at a normal rate and only doing emergency repairs. “My mechanics are working two days a week. We pretty much have a skeleton crew in the field.” His organization has 12 garages and normally has three to four mechanics per garage. “We’ve split them in half, so there are only two gentlemen working on vehicles at the same time. The only vehicles that we are kind of keeping an eye on and running are the essential vehicles…like our help trucks that run the road and keep an eye out for patrons if they run out of gas or if there’s an accident. We are doing a minimal amount out there just to keep the roads safe.”
We caught up with NAFA Member Dale Collins, CAFM, to discuss how his team is dealing with COVID-19. Utilities are, by their very nature, essential services, and with so many workers and citizens self-isolating at home, the need to keep such services running is that much greater.
This puts pressure on fleets to strive for safety, keeping COVID-19 infection from affecting the team and sidelining crucial work. This also means having to make hard decisions should employees exhibit symptoms of the coronavirus. For Dale Collins, CAFM, Fleet Services Supervisor for Fairfax Water in Lorton, Virginia, there is no time to waste.
When it comes to an unprecedented challenge like the COVID-19 pandemic, we’re all learning on the fly, on the job. NAFA recently asked members to assess where they stand in their work and life following the first month of physical distancing.
Ronald S. Gitelman, CAFM, is the Senior Fleet Administrator for Yale University and faces very unique challenges, but never had a plan for students who are not allowed on campus as courses have shifted entirely online.
Gitelman, like many other fleet professionals, was well prepared for nearly every situation one could imagine, but he hadn’t imagined this. He has learned a lot during the past few weeks -- about Yale’s policies, preparedness, and staff -- that will affect his operations going forward.
To help understand the challenges facing Fleet Managers in different parts of the country, NAFA would like to recognize regional members who have shared their experiences and strategies managing their fleets through the COVID-19 pandemic.
Many Fleet Managers are essential and have played an enormous role in the fight against COVID-19. It is more important now than ever that we recognize our essential services and the resources needed to keep our roads safe and clear as well as maintain the flow of goods and services required to help us get through this tough time.
NAFA would like to recognize members who have shared their experiences and strategies managing their fleets through the COVID-19 pandemic.
We are all living in a time warp as our collective confinement continues, but let us reminisce a moment back to Q1 2020. In January, California residents gained the right to wrestle back their user data from the tech platforms and other companies that had captured and exploited it. In February, Senator Josh Hawley posited that the FTC should take over Google, and Senator Amy Klobuchar introduced an antitrust modernization bill as a cudgel against big tech.
The country was speeding toward a new era where the big technology companies would be reined in and privacy protections would soon sweep the nation. Instead weeks later, what nearly swept us under was a global pandemic.
We are looking for a way out and it is those same big tech companies we complained about that are helping us get through.
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.”
The federal government is pushing for states to reopen. Certain states––such as Alabama, Idaho, Mississippi, and Montana, among others––are slated to resume business before May 1st (while others––such as Arkansas and Florida––never officially shut down in the first place).
Each state will open slowly and with restrictions prohibiting large gatherings. With that said, it’s beginning to look like the U.S. is on track to gradually return to an active economy.
While commerce will eventually recommence, it will hardly be “business as usual” for a nation brought to its knees by the Covid crisis. School and universities are shut down for the foreseeable future, so fleet agencies that cater to this sector will need to find new purposes for their drivers. And the way we do business will never be quite the same. Let’s take a look at how organizational protocols in fleet need to be altered to reflect what we’ve learned from coronavirus.
We caught up with 2020 FLEXY Award Winner Steve Larsen, Director of Procurement and Fuel at Ruan Transportation Management Systems to discuss crisis management. Everyone working at Ruan has been charged with helping minimize the impact on operations that the coronavirus has caused.
As many reports and first-person accounts can affirm, many stores are faced with shortages due to supply chain issues as a result of panic buying. At times like these, the role of the trucking industry charged with getting the merchandise to our stores cannot be underestimated.
Larsen spoke to NAFA from his home where he and his wife are working remotely. What follows is a wide-ranging discussion about current needs, how Ruan is stepping up to the challenges at hand, as well as the efforts that gained him his Excellence in Corporate/Private Fleet or Mobility Management FLEXY.
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?
The national coronavirus crisis is affecting fleets in unique ways, principally from being labeled essential to being temporarily shut down. FLEXY winner Brad Smith, Fleet Maintenance Supervisor for Poudre Fire Authority in Fort Collins, CO manages an absolutely essential 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.
“Fire fleets have situations where some houses contain several functions and multiple assets running out of one place,” Smith explains. “The trucks stay at the station and crews are rotated every 48 hours, so we ensure that quality pass-on is done between the shifts. Lingering non-safety issues are monitored. I have currently halted all non-essential shop activity to include preventive maintenance actions that are not more than 500 miles or 30 days overdue. The goal of that is to keep as many reserve firefighting apparatuses at the ready in the event of major breakdowns and supply chain issues. We have six reserve apparatus with one currently in service.”
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.
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.
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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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.
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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