Michael, how long have you been working in the fleet management industry?
I have been working in the fleet management industry for 7 years, always with Toyota Fleet Management.
How did you first get into fleet management?
I have always been interested in the motor vehicle industry having worked for previous companies in the industry. At the time I was working in a sales role for a transport company however I was looking for a position with an organisation that could provide me with opportunities for career progression and long term stability. An opportunity for an entry level position presented itself at Toyota Fleet Management which was a good fit.
Describe your current role?
The fleet sales manager role is a diverse role that combines responsibilities for new business development and management of a sales team.
The majority of my time (70%) is focused on new business development and prospecting to corporate, government and not-for-profit organisations that run a fleet of vehicles that are looking for fleet management and financing solutions.
The other part of my role involves providing support, advice and guidance to my sales team to ensure that we continue to add value to our customer portfolio.
What changes have you seen across the industry in last five years?
As organisations look for ways to reduce costs there has certainly been a big focus to reduce costs within their vehicle fleet.
This has resulted in a number of changes that I have noticed over the past five years, including running vehicles over longer terms (traditionally companies would run a passenger vehicle for three years and a light commercial for four years, I have seen a shift to four and five year terms for these vehicles); a shift to novated leasing for non-tool of trade company provided vehicles in an effort to reduce FBT liability for companies; and streamlining vehicle policy to a single vehicle manufacturer or small number of makes in an effort maximise vehicles discounts and reduce whole of life costs.
What car do you currently drive? And what is your dream car?
I currently drive a Toyota Camry Hybrid. If I could afford it my dream car would be a nice Audi, maybe an R8 or RS.
What has been your biggest challenge to date in your current role?
My biggest challenge has been the transition from my previous role as a Relationship Manager to my current role as a Fleet Sales Manager. Combining the responsibilities of new business development and staff management can pull you in different directions at times.
Where do you get new ideas from?
There is a lot of experience and knowledge within our organisation and I find that I get a lot of new ideas from my colleagues.
What are the top three challenges for a fleet manager today?
1) Having a comprehensive and implemented vehicle policy.
2) Managing driver behaviours, including vehicle servicing, infringements and fuel card usage. Cars are also a very emotive issue for a lot of people and dealing with the drivers and end users can be a challenge at times.
3) Being pulled in different directions within their organisation. There are a lot of different stakeholders including HR, Finance, Procurement, Senior Management and Drivers all who may have different goals and objectives and dealing with these different departments can be a challenge for fleet managers.
Do you think we will have driverless cars on Australian roads within ten years?
What’s your tip to a new person starting a career in fleet?
Whilst it is important to have knowledge of vehicles I believe that the most important skillset to have is to be organised and have the ability to build relationships with people. In the Fleet industry you are dealing with lots people on a daily basis, whether they be suppliers, dealers, or people within your own organisation and quite often you are dealing with the same people day in day out so it is very important that you can build relationships.