The communication team designs the vehicle

Published in the March 2019 issue of Fleet Affiliation

Organizations tend to be multi-layered, and the fleet is just one part of the machine that drives business forward. Just as fleets deploy a variety of vocational work trucks to complete specific tasks, a business may have several departments collaborating on a single project. These can include, for example, marketing, research and development, field operations, and executive management teams.

Who, in the end, has the responsibility to spec the vehicle? The spec writer is the author of the document that will ultimately be delivered; however, the communication team designs the vehicle (or should). In this context, the communication team is not a department or organizational layer. It’s  a collaborative entity that can expand beyond the organization.

The power of multi-perspective thought
A person’s perspective can be influenced in many different ways. Collaborative research consists of two or more parties working together to achieve a common goal. It can result in a deeper understanding of how better to serve the internal customers and constituents. Two-way communication is key. Collaboration within an organization could be considered cost-free advice. The communications team can have great information and resources, but it may not have knowledge of regulatory or budgetary constraints, for example.

Who is the communications team?
The communications team is a multi-layered group consisting of internal customers and outside influencers such as suppliers, upfitters, and original equipment manufacturers. Fleet leaders should be positioned to channel ideas and manage layers of communication. With truck technology advancing rapidly and continuous job requirement changes, it is important to filter all this data. Once positioned, you have the ability to control costs and drive efficiency.

While there is no instant solution, acting as a conduit of two-way discussions between the internal and external groups, you have accomplished two things. First, you have positioned yourself as the fleet professional expert and champion for end users by providing them the best-suited tool for their tasks, while communicating fleet department constraints. Putting extra energy and focus into understanding end-user challenges will go a long way. Secondly, you have brought product ownership to the end user — where vocational tools tend to be respected more and taken care of at a much higher level. This can produce measureable results in unscheduled maintenance and end-of-life resale.

Complete the loop
The last piece of advice — complete the loop. Regular engagement with the communications team is critical. Then, during the specification and design phase, you’re able to provide end users with the product that best meet their needs. With this regular communication you will continue to be on the front end of their operation and can regularly communicate new ideas, tools and products to help your internal customers.

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