New year, new beginnings: Learning from past challenges and successes

Christopher Lyon, NTEA Director of Fleet Relations
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This article was published in the February 2020 edition of NTEA News.

As we welcome a new decade, it may be a good time to consider new beginnings. Analyzing past successes can play an important role when planning for the future, but another opportunity is to look at shortfalls. While not as popular as victories, understanding gaps can be the greatest tool for improvement. Taking the time to identify areas that may be lacking in your business will help steer your company closer to becoming a preferred partner to customers.

Stepping into the light
Fleet professionals can be creatures of habit, often maintaining steady, long-term relationships with vendors. However, comfort and familiarity can cause missed chances for the supplier and purchaser. Typically, fleet specialists won’t seek new options if their current needs are being met. This is where stepping into the light — presenting and taking new opportunities — can play a crucial role in gaining and maintaining customers. Breaking the barrier of a comfortable business relationship is one of the most challenging and impactful aspects of starting or expanding a client affiliation.

Reaching out
Reaching out to potential customers is important. When telling your story, make it personal. One of the fastest ways to discourage business is the hard sell, as well as telling customers their current suppliers are subpar. Remember, they have long and comfortable business relationships. Telling a fleet professional their supplier isn’t a fit will often be viewed as a reflection on your customer. Take the time to learn about potential clients and how your company will benefit them. Every customer is different, so spend time researching, identify what you perceive to be important issues and adjust your messaging. This gives your business a personal feel, and fleet professionals are often more receptive to change when encountering this level of service.

Maintaining the relationship
While gaining new customers is the first hurdle to overcome, maintaining is the second. Don’t let the relationship become too comfortable as, eventually, another organization may use this same tactic to gain clients. While comfort may be stable for many years, it’s not always the best long-term strategy. Continue to find ways to help improve customers’ operations. Keeping the relationship fresh is a solid technique for attaining repeat and lasting business.

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