Published in the January 2017 issue of Fleet Affiliation
Cost control and reduction are typically at the forefront of a fleet manager’s priorities. And this usually goes hand-in-hand with the expectation that you produce more results with diminishing resources.
With the fast pace of technological advances and vocational trucks subsequently becoming more complex, it can be difficult to keep up with the times. However, several strategies can be employed to ensure long-term success.
Begin with training and education
Start with your own training and education program. Having formal training policies in place can safeguard fleet operations from getting behind. Unfortunately, many fleet managers are strapped for time and often believe they cannot afford to carve out the hours needed for training and education. Realistically, however, you can’t afford to not take the time. Some important issues you may face include:
- Changing state and federal regulations
- New and improved truck equipment
- Changes in vehicle specifications and designs
- Maintenance requirements
- New technologies
Establishing formal education and training protocols and following through will ensure you are not left in the dark and behind the times. Finding resources can often be challenging, but they are available. Some include:
- Trade journals
- Vendor publications
- Fleet associations
- Trade shows
- Sales representatives
Use your sales representatives’ resources
Many believe that cutting the middle man out of the equation can reduce costs, but your sales representatives (at least your preferred ones) can be an invaluable resource. Most fleets include a diverse portfolio of vehicles and equipment. Being an industry expert on all aspects is an impossible task, but partnering with your vendors is a potential training opportunity. Sales reps are responsible for knowing the ins and outs of all the equipment they sell. Affiliating with quality vendors and upfitters will extend your knowledge base with a relatively low amount of effort.
Trade shows – can you afford not to go?
Trade shows, often viewed as several days out of the office, are often scrutinized for the amount of time versus the value gained. A little bit of preparation will ensure maximum value is received. Before committing to a trade show, take a few minutes to understand what can be gained.
Educational sessions. Most beneficial opportunities come from shows that have significant educational content directly related to your operations and needs. Many offer concurrent sessions. Decide in advance which ones will have the best value. If multiple staff are attending, it’s best to assign each person to specific sessions and share information after the show.
Plan your visits in advance. Trade show expo floors at first glance can easily become overwhelming. Walking along the trade show floor without a plan will likely result in disappointment. One of the positive benefits of trade shows is that you can often meet with many of your vendors and partners within a single venue. Look at the list of participating exhibitors. Make a list of specific problems and issues that need to be addressed and connect with the appropriate companies and vendors.
One opportunity coming up this year is The Work Truck Show® 2017 and Green Truck Summit. Educational sessions begin March 14, 2017, and many of your vendors and suppliers will be available onsite.
If you have any questions regarding this article or other fleet-related matters, contact Chris Lyon, NTEA Director of Fleet Relations, at 248-479-8196, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.