Advancing knowledge outside of your area

Published in August 2023 Fleet Affiliation.

Running a successful and efficient fleet can be one of the most challenging positions within an organization. A successful fleet leader / professional will have the ability to multi-task the day-to-day responsibilities while staying on top of the ever-changing fleetscape.

Individuals within an organization who are not directly involved with fleet operations may have very little knowledge of what it takes to run an effective and efficient fleet program. This might become problematic if upper management sees fleet as an overburdened expense, and if internal customers have unrealistic expectations for fleet operations.

One of the most significant challenges is to to keep educated on current practices and also to educate others. This can be achieved with a concrete plan in place.

Champion the cause
As a fleet manager, you are positioned much better when expectations are reasonable vs. unrealistic. Educating your internal customers is the first step for them to have reasonable expectations; this has the potential to change your customer’s opinion of fleet an overburdened budget line that stands out in the red, into an efficient operation that is a value-added service to the organization.

One of the larger challenges is understanding what level of knowledge exists within an organization. In the perfect scenario, upper management understands the ins and outs of a vocational fleet, and that there is the necessary expense to maintain the status quo of minimizing the total cost of operations. Unfortunately, this is not always the case.

For the management team, begin by putting the biggest challenges into the spotlight. A required trait of a fleet manager – other than the ability to multi-task – is to solve problems. By demonstrating to management the real-world challenges of their organization and real-world solutions, you will build credibility and open the door for them to accept an understanding of how the fleet operates. 

Secondly, most internal customers will have vehicles of their own. If this is the case, they likely maintain their vehicles – fueling them, bringing them in for maintenance, maintain vehicle insurance, and so on. Take this opportunity to tell your story. When it comes to commercial vehicle design and complex maintenance, it can go way beyond what a traditional vehicle owner can begin to understand on their own.

Wrapping it up
It is important to stay educated on the latest product offerings, regulatory compliance issues, and industry trends. Further, helping stakeholders become aware of the value brought to the organization by fleet may be beneficial in gaining management support.