Historically high inflation and supply chain woes are giving fleet managers major headaches.
That’s according to Jim Perkins, director of Fleet Solutions USA for Shell, and Sasha Arasteh, e-mobility and services manager for Shell Fleet Services Americas, who recently sat down with PYMNTS to discuss what they see as key remedies for the ongoing macroeconomic migraines afflicting the industry.
“The consistent headaches I see on a daily and weekly basis,” Perkins said, “is how do [fleet managers] save time, manage their time better? They want to reduce the total cost of the ownership of their vehicles — that’s the big buzzword in the fleet industry, looking holistically at all the vehicles and asking how do I lower my total cost.”
A second headache, Perkins added, is that as a result of the pandemic’s impact on global supply chains, many fleet managers are still having challenges replacing their existing vehicles, as well as finding the necessary parts to repair them.
“Shell is a global organization and we [leverage that reach] to provide fleet owners with a total product suite that helps them manage the total costs of their vehicles not just for today, but for the future as well,” Perkins said.
“You know, in the past fleet managers were very individual — they ran their shop, they did their own thing. But now, fleet managers are kind of like the hub of an organization. They are really tied to the finance manager, the operations manager, the safety manager, the sustainability manager. Their position has been elevated, and now they’re really critical to helping all the disparate parts of an organization achieve its goals.”
In times of economic uncertainty, making sure things run smoothly can be pretty stressful. Given the realities of today’s business environment it is becoming increasingly mission critical for organizations to focus on controlling what they can.
“Our products have really robust reporting capabilities that integrate together in order to manage the data much more efficiently and identify abnormalities for fleet managers, helping them control their expenses,” Perkins said. “We have a platform which we call Clearview where fleet managers can pull down all this data and really synthesize it to a point where they can see where the opportunities are for improvement.”
He adds that Shell has a team that works hand-in-hand with fleet managers to help identify both areas for growth and opportunities to lower costs.
“We have all these products and services in one place, and we integrate them into a more comprehensive and holistic approach to total cost of ownership for fleet managers,” Perkins said.
PYMNTS has been closely monitoring the growing trend of organizational leaders leveraging new technology and digital tools to break down internal silos and build holistic organizational growth frameworks.
“One of things we’ve done,” Arasteh said, “is given a lot of consideration to the user experience. Many of our customers are using a kind of home-grown system or platform, maybe an Excel spreadsheet, to manage their operations — whether it’s maintenance, whether it’s inventory management — so one of things we’ve done [with Shell’s solutions] is make sure that it keeps the fleet manager in mind and doesn’t make things too heavily tech focused, everything is about two or three clicks away. And if it’s not, then we need to do something different.”
She added that Shell also offers an onboarding program and ongoing customer support to make sure that customer pain points are properly understood and addressed and Shell’s fleet management solutions are working the way businesses using them want them to.
Arasteh also highlighted the benefits of Shell’s maintenance program, particularly in the face of supply chain snarls and fulfilment delays.
“We’re seeing an increased need in maintaining vehicles because it’s hard to acquire new ones, vehicles are on back order, and the maintenance program is becoming more valuable to fleet managers as they start to become conscious about maintaining their fleet, not just from a sustainability standpoint or an inventory standpoint, but because it’s the new way of working.”
Beyond just economic issues, Perkins said that he sees the industry as being in the midst of a transformational pivot.
“Looking forward, I think everyone is thinking, ‘How am I going to transition my fleet to a more sustainable fleet?’ Everyone is looking, ‘Am I going to get cost savings by moving my vehicles to EV, and if I do that, how am I going to do that?’” adding that as an energy company, it’s where Shell can really shine.
“I do think this is a point in history where companies need to prepare for the next generation of vehicles,” Perkins said. “And I think it will all evolve together, payments, maintenance, everything.”