Highlight your vocational fleet operation

Published in the October 2019 issue of Fleet Affiliation

Being a successful fleet manager can be one of the most challenging positions in an organization, and the job comes with great responsibility. Staying educated, and perhaps more importantly educating others is critical. A successful fleet manager professional is able to multitask. A balanced plan must be laid out for successful fleet operation. People in the organization, yet not directly involved with the fleet operation, may have very little knowledge regarding the processes necessary to maintain a cost-effective fleet program. This becomes problematic for upper management who may see fleet as an overburdened expense and for internal customers who may have completely unrealistic expectations about how a fleet operation should run.

Put a spotlight on the operation
In some cases, a safe bet is to manage a fleet under the radar and not make waves. On the other hand, there’s an opportunity to educate colleagues. This may turn the opinion of fleets as an overburdened budget line that gets noticed because it’s in the red, into an efficient operation seen as a value-added service to the organization. Educating others is the first step toward establishing reasonable expectations understood by everyone. As a fleet manager, you are positioned much better when expectations are reasonable rather than unrealistic.

A larger challenge may be to understand management’s current knowledge level. In the perfect scenario, upper management knows the ins and outs of a vocational fleet and realizes expenses required to maintain the status quo (minimizing the total cost of operations). Unfortunately, this is not always the case. Begin by putting the biggest challenges into the spotlight for management. A fleet manager’s required trait (other than multi-tasking) is to be a problem solver. Demonstrating the real-world organizational challenges and possible solutions builds credibility and opens the door for a deeper understanding on how fleets operate.  Secondly, there’s the need to determine what the internal customers recognize. Most internal customers have personal vehicles, and because of this, in their minds they’re experts and qualified critics. They regularly fuel their vehicles, schedule required maintenance, keep vehicles insured, and so on. However, truck design and complex fleet maintenance can go way beyond what a traditional vehicle owner understands. Take this opportunity to share knowledge.

Educate others
It is important to stay educated on the latest product offerings, regulatory compliance issues and industry trends. However, providing insight to stakeholders involved in separate organization functions can be beneficial. It’s understood that they don’t need a fleet manager’s level of expertise, but the view from 30,000 feet may lead to an understanding of just how complex the department and industry can be. Take advantage of every opportunity available.

Join us as we commemorate the 20th anniversary of The Work Truck Show®. Registration for WTS20 is open. The event is scheduled March 3­–6, 2020, at the Indiana Convention Center in Indianapolis, Indiana. Educational sessions and Green Truck Summit begin March 3. The exhibit hall is open March 4­–6. Consider bringing upper management and internal customers from a cross functional team to the Show. If additional participants from your organization are able to attend and learn more about technical and regulatory requirement of fleets, your department will be better understood. 

View opportunities for fleets at the event.