Avoiding the almost perfect work truck

Published in the August 2019 issue of Fleet Affiliation

As fleet professionals, we have at least read or heard stories of trucks that could have been the perfect truck if it weren’t for that one thing. Vocational work trucks, often extremely complex in design, have a longer service life and come at a premium price. Many specification writers work diligently to develop the perfect work truck as they envision it; however, the finished product sometimes has one item that could have been better. If this story is familiar, you’re likely in good company. With continued experience comes continued improvement. There are several strategies to employ as ways to hone your skills. The first is to define good communication, meaning two-way communication. This is more than keeping in touch with stakeholders, whether they are vendors, end users or upper management. Two-way communication is you having confidence that the person you are collaborating with has complete understanding.

Are your vendors in touch with your needs?
It can be incorrectly assumed vendors understand the things your organization values. It’s true that price point can be extremely important, but you should know collective details about what individuals in your organization expect from vendors. Access to service, product lines and experience are all important; however, positive outcomes lie within communication channels you have with your vendors. Helping them understand what’s important allows them to position themselves. Better service ultimately results in better value.

Keeping the loop in motion
With clear communication channels in place and a complete understanding of expectations from both an end user and a supplier, you have positioned yourself to avoid the almost perfect work truck. Take these tools and knowledge downstream. Having the same level of confidence with the entire cross-functional team, both internally and externally, illuminate minor design flaws. Addressing them on paper is much easier and less costly than correcting them on a post-build vehicle. How does this effect you and ultimately the end-user entity? Communicating your organizational goals continually can create synergy. Failure to do so has the opposite effect. For example, if it’s perceived your organization’s core motivator is bottom-line price, often vendors have to make sacrifices that impact several factors in appearance and in productivity of the end unit.

2020 Fleet Purchasing Outlook Survey
The NTEA released the annual Fleet Purchasing Outlook Survey. Taking the time to complete the survey is important for both the fleet purchasers as well as the manufacturers, distributors and upfitters that serve the fleet's needs. The resulting report allows the trending issues to be brought into focus, and can provide data on industry normal. This can be a benchmark point of where fleets stand within a comparable industry.

If you would like to discuss this, or other fleet issues with NTEA, contact Chris Lyon, NTEA director of fleet relations.