The “soft launch” of the ELD mandate is now in effect and the April 1 full-compliance date is fast approaching. Our members tell us how their fleet customers are responding.
There have been numerous blogs that have appeared on the NationaLease site dealing with the ELD mandate. Now that it is in effect, we thought it was time to see how some of our full-service leasing members were dealing with the mandate both for themselves and for their fleet customers.
There were two things I discovered during the conversations. First, as of this point, none of our members’ customers have complained of any issues with inspections. Of course, that could and likely will change, once the April 1 date occurs. Second, confusion is still a major issue for their customers. Many of the fleets aren’t sure if they do or do not fall under the mandate. Others have no concept of how to properly utilize the ELD. And others are still unsure about the short-term rental aspects of the mandate.
What became clear in my conversations is that each of these members is going the extra mile to help customers deal with what is coming, how best to be in compliance, and how they may reap real benefits from the data supplied through the ELDs.
Matt Svancara, Executive Vice President at Aim Leasing Company headquartered in Girard, Ohio noted that of the company’s several thousand customers, none have indicated any issues regarding ELD inspections at this point; however, he also stated that there is mass confusion among customers regarding what will happen after April 1. “About 40 percent of our customers are dedicated contract so we install the ELDs. For the rest, those who are full-service lease customers, they are responsible for installing their own ELDs so we try to walk them through the process,” stated Matt. “In fact, we just sent out an email that says ‘Did you know your truck can talk to us and tell us when it is sick.” We try to show them how an ELD can help them get in front of a problem before a truck goes down. We let them know that, even if they don’t fall under the ELD mandate, there’s a good deal of important data they can get from an ELD”
Matt notes that customer reaction to Aim’s help in learning about ELDs has been pretty positive. “This whole process lets us connect better with our customers and helps them connect to us through electronics.”
Mike Napoliello, Branch/Fleet Manager at Bentley Truck Services, Inc. a NationaLease Member the Philadelphia area, notes that his company also tries to help customers as much as possible through education, even though most of them don’t require the device. “Only about 30 percent of our customers actually fall under the ELD mandate, but whether they need an ELD or not, confusion still abounds. So we try to educate them on what system and device would work best for them, based on their in-house telematics.” However, when it comes to substitute trucks, Bentley has a portable ELD solution customers can use in case the rental time falls beyond the 8-day grace period. Mike, like the other NationaLease members, says he’s heard nothing from customers that do require ELDs that indicates any problems they may have encountered as far as inspections.
Success NationaLease, based in Kansas City, Kansas, took a different approach. According to Amber Woodrome, Accounting Supervisor, and Rick Searcy, Transportation Manager, Success NationaLease decided to put the ELDs into all of their trucks, even though many of their customers’ fleets don’t fall under the mandate. “As of January 1, 2017, all of our vehicles were equipped with ELDs because we considered it a real benefit to our customers,” noted Amber. “In fact, to explain the value to our customers, Rick and I did several on-site customer visits and held other seminars explaining the value of the devices to our customers”
Rick indicated that he talked to a number of providers and tested lots of devices until finding one that was cost-efficient, easy to use for both driver and dispatcher, and easy to install. Once the decision was complete and the devices were installed, according to Rick, “We explained to customers the value of ELDs beyond HOS; that they could get a lot of important information from the device for tracking where the truck was at any time and driver behavior.”
Both Amber and Rick said that customers admitted learning a lot about their own businesses through the ELD set-up process. But like both Mike and Matt above, they also noted the confusion that the regulation has caused. “What was really surprising,” according to Amber, “was that so many fleet owners and managers didn’t know the true rules behind HOS, so confusion goes beyond just the device itself. That’s why educating them is so important.”
What is clear from my discussions is that, so far, there haven’t been any issues regarding ELD compliance and inspections, confusion reigns supreme, and that we all have to take a wait-and-see attitude as to what happens after April 1. That’s why I’ll be speaking to these knowledgeable members again later in the year to see what has, or hasn’t changed.
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