Fleet managers know all too well the adage, “You can’t manage what you can’t measure.” Lawrence Gold, President of Bailiff Logistics Services, shares how an emerging technology can support fleet management objectives during an uncertain time.
Covid -19 will likely go down in history as both the Great Pandemic and the Great Business Interrupter. For Canadian fleet owners and operators, it has increased operating costs with necessary emphasis on vehicle sanitization, Personal Protection Equipment (PPE), social distancing and all other manner of public health regulations, including lockdown disruptions. More insidious is the extent to which COVID-19 has painted balance sheets “red” and created growing uncertainty.
Given the composition of many fleets includes leased and financed vehicles, uncertainty abounds as to what will happen next when lease and loan deferrals come to an end, and the day of reckoning arrives. Fleet owners and operators who are indebted to vehicle loan financiers or leasing companies could be considered the future “hunted”. The unfortunate reality is that, barring some meeting of the minds by way of an ongoing indulgence or arrears repayment agreement, the bailiff may be dispatched by the creditor when and if, no suitable repayment or debt arrangement plan has been presented, negotiated and confirmed. The “when” is anyone’s guess and is understandably situation specific.
The optics of aggressive creditor recovery practices during a global pandemic, has been a moderating factor. We are also now entering the period of holiday cheer when high profile creditors traditionally lay back and put repossessions on hold until the New Year. With this in mind, the best advice would be to stay in contact with your creditor and collaboratively develop and present a plan that is realistic, serviceable, and is likely to satisfy the current positioning and financial circumstances of the creditor in question. Keep in mind that, in the case of Chartered Banks, it may be the Federal regulators, and not your friendly bank manager, who are setting the pace, and establishing the rules of engagement. The best advice is to plan ahead, communicate and collaborate. Don’t bury your head.
Many of these same fleet managers also play the role of the “hunter” as they are tasked with the responsibility of ensuring flawless operational management and real time tracking of their fleet. This fleet management function is sometimes a challenge, particularly when fleet assets venture into the USA as part of their regular delivery and other “Stateside” operations. As the global pandemic continues to hamper all aspects of fleet management and movement within the USA borders, fleet managers need a new technology edge to assist them in the successful management of their USA bound fleet portfolios.
Bailiff Logistics Services Inc. has developed and introduced into the marketplace, previously unavailable access to a new technology platform called SEARCH USA which provides a valuable conduit to USA vehicle location search intelligence, By tapping into robust data bases of Licence Plate Recognition vehicle plate camera “captures, SEARCH USA introduces to Canadian fleet operators the ability to leverage this “location” information, thereby allowing them to track in near real time, the whereabouts of their USA bound fleet assets, increasing command and control capabilities.
Unlike Canada, where federal and provincial privacy laws have stymied the private sector’s ability to utilize Licence Plate Recognition technology, its use is widespread across the USA, as is evident by the overwhelming size of cloud databases, with plate captures measuring in the “billions”. Simply explained, the USA has multitudes of repo agent driven vehicles, passively circulating in almost all 50 states, carrying on board camera equipment which reads the license plate picture and turns the picture into an alphanumeric algorithm. These alpha numeric translated images are then compared to data bases of “hot listed” (i.e. wanted) vehicles that are being sought by USA creditor stakeholders, including banks, vehicle finance companies and many more interested parties. If the plates scanned are not “wanted” by any particular party, they merely remain in the database and can be queried by stakeholders who are simply interested in establishing the movement and location of their collateral/assets. In the event of a “hit” associated with a wanted vehicle, the repo agents stop, investigates and following vehicle VIN confirmation seeks instructions to repossess the wanted vehicle.
This vehicle location information is particularly important as “missing” assets are costly and disruptive. In the event of an asset disappearance, insurance claims are unlikely unless a theft can be established to the satisfaction of law enforcement. As well, law enforcement will be hesitant to be involved in the vehicle recovery effort. Accessing the SEARCH USA portal can help fleet managers increase the visibility of fleet assets in question, and in today’s uncertain times, visibility adds value.
For more information
Attention: Lawrence Gold