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Avoid the Complacency of Running a Well-Managed Fleet

May 2, 2008, by Mike Antich - Also by this author

 By Mike Antich 

Complacency. It is defined as self-satisfaction, especially whenaccompanied by unawareness of actual dangers or deficiencies.

Is this you?

Complacency is a real danger to fleet operations, especiallywell-run fleets. Most fleet managers will tell you that the “low-hanging fruit”has been picked long ago and there are a diminishing number of opportunities tofurther refine fleet efficiency and reduce costs. There is truth in thisstatement, but sometimes it can be used as an excuse by some fleet managers notto stray from their comfort zone. They reason that things are working justfine, why monkey with a well-tuned fleet operation? Again, there is some truthto this statement. But ask yourself, “Is your goal to run a well-managed fleetor do you want to run a best-in-class fleet?”

A great fleet manager constantly conceptualizes new initiatives, iscreative in problem-solving, motivates staff and suppliers to excel, and iswilling to experiment by implementing new technology-based fleet solutions. Afleet manager who gets too comfortable with his or her operation becomes complacentwith his or her skill set. When operations are running smoothly, there is inertiato change. The conventional wisdom is to not change something that isn’tbroken.

Are these fleet managers truly optimizing fleet performance?

An early mentor advised me long ago to never get comfortable. Alwaysassume a competitor breathing down your neck, even if there isn’t one.

Push your horizon and implement “stretchgoals.”

This also applies to fleet management.The great fleet managers I have known over the years are not complacent; theyare strivers constantly pushing the envelope.

Stretch Beyond Your Comfort Level

Veteran fleet managers who haveimplemented numerous cost saving initiatives will tell you that savings becomemore difficult to find – the law of diminishing returns takes hold. They pointout that most of the excess cost has been wrung out of the operation. Theypoint to metrics that prove the fleet is running smoothly.

These fleet managers are operating on auto pilot. They’ve becomecomfortable. Becoming comfortable, or “resting on one’s laurels,” is the roadto complacency.

Complacency is the enemy of excellence. A great fleet manageralways believes additional cost savings can be achieved.

They recognize the need to be creative. They alsobelieve there is always something new to learn. They are continual learners. Thesefleet managers stay current with industry best practices and network with industry-respectedfleet managers. However, there are other sources of best practices. Oneunderutilized resource is prospective suppliers. Many fleet managers makethemselves inaccessible to prospective suppliers. They are missing a wonderfulopportunity to pick their brains, to learn of new developments in the industry.You need to continually ask suppliers what they have seen among their clientbase that is successful. Could these practices be implemented in your fleet operation?

I learned long ago that itis impossible to be an expert in fleet management. It is a continually evolvingindustry and the best that we can hope for is to keep pace with the changes andperhaps gain the insight to peer a little beyond the horizon. You can be an experton Roman history, for example, since that history has a beginning and an end. Butfleet management is a dynamic profession that is constantly evolving. Fleet managementbest practices in the next decade will dramatically differ from those of today.Many of these future best practices will be technology-based. If you are notcontinually learning about fleet management, about new products and services, it’seasy to become stale at what you do. Network with your peers. Ask what’sworking for them. Probe. Avoid the “not invented here” arrogance. Adopt proven solutionssuccessful at other fleet operations.

Cancel Auto Pilot & Grab the Controls

Without realizing it, some long-time fleet managers get settled intotheir positions and get too comfortable. They coast along repeating what’sworked in the past. The result?

They getcomplacent. At worst, they stagnate. Are you too comfortable in your position?

Getting out of your comfort zone forces you toview fleet management in a new way. It stimulates you to think new thoughts andsee solutions in a different light. Be willing to experiment. Not all problemshave a silver bullet solution; many times problems are resolved throughincremental enhancements. Be proactive. Great fleet managers confront deficienciesbefore they become problems. But more importantly, they don’t rest on theirpast laurels. They always believe more can be done.

As Malcolm Kushner, a humorist said, “People who are resting ontheir laurels are wearing them on the wrong end.”

Let me know what you think.

[email protected]

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Author Bio

Mike Antich

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Editor and Associate Publisher

Mike Antich has covered fleet management and remarketing for more than 20 years and was inducted in the Fleet Hall of Fame in 2010.

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