Is the way you run your fleet department really creating value for the end user, and for your organization as a whole?
Here is a quotation from a popular business book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey: “People and their managers are working so hard to be sure things are done right that they hardly have time to decide if they are doing the right things.”
I have seen many organizations where this is really evident. It is the basic problem of so many malfunctioning services, including fleet management. People are caught up in procedures that may have seemed okay when they were started, maybe many years ago. But are they really enabling a high standard of service to their users or customers? Or are there constraints that paint fleet management as a mediocre service that gets in everyone’s way for no apparent benefit?
Misplaced control and accountability
As I wrote in the last issue of fleetdigest, many fleet services are compromised because of misplaced control and accountability. The expectation may be that the fleet manager is in control of the factors that generate fleet expenses, including the number of vehicles in service, the kilometers driven and the type of equipment. User behaviours drive these expenses, not the fleet manager, and it is ultimately futile for the fleet manager to try and impose control over these behaviours.
But many are still trying. These are just a few ways that fleet managers earn the nicknames “Can’t” and “Won’t.”
• Charge back methods have been created that are not readily understood by user managers, particularly if the calculation has not been documented. Users have concluded that negotiating the fleet management fees is a pointless exercise and one that they cannot win. They move on.
• Endless demands from fleet management for data with no useful information or performance reports received from Fleet in return. This can include vehicle condition reports, odometer readings and information for taxable benefit calculations and so on.
• Arbitrary decisions by the fleet manager on taking vehicles out of service because of a schedule that says, “it’s time.” Who is more informed about the vehicle’s usefulness: the user or the fleet manager?
These procedures and others like them can produce tremendous stress on fleet staff. They are “working so hard to be sure things are done right” and the pace is probably not something they can sustain for another five years. It’s time to step back from the fire-fighting and look at what’s going on, doing the right things versus doing things right.
“Doing the right things” means acting to reach the goals of the whole organization, not just fleet. Fleet management should show that it is making a positive contribution to the goals of the corporation. This can be done by demonstrating significant expense reduction through lower annual budgets, and benchmarking with similar fleets to determine the competitiveness of the fleet.
The goals of user groups are equally important. This means that fleet management is fulfilling the attributes that users want in their vehicles. These attributes include suitability, reliability, safety, affordability, energy efficiency, availability and compliance with regulations.
Fleet management can also show how it is becoming more productive and efficient. Improving service fulfillment, reducing breakdowns and reducing absenteeism are the right things to do.
Developing a high performance service organization should be the goal of every fleet manager. Working in one is way more fun and much better for your health.