Three Ways to Screw Up Your Fleet Operation
It’s nice to get suggestions and advice from experts on how to better manage your fleet. It’s also good to know what not to do. Here are three tried-and-true ways to screw up your fleet operation.
Fleet managers need to be on the lookout for common, easy-to-make mistakes that can negatively impact operations.
At a Glance:
Screwing up your fleet operation is easy. Avoid these pitfalls:
- Making exceptions.
- Putting untested technology into your fleet.
- Micromanging all fleet expenses and losing sight of the "big picture."
There are myriad ways a fleet manager can deepen his or her knowledge and understanding of the job. Industry gatherings, networking, reading articles, and attending seminars or conferences can all help achieve a better job performance.
There are also a number of ways to screw things up. Learning the former is obviously helpful; learning the latter can be even more valuable. The mistakes of others are lessons for everyone.
1 Make Exceptions - Lots of Exceptions
You take time to craft a comprehensive fleet policy. You develop procedures to implement that policy. You make it available to all stakeholders and keep it updated. Then, the inevitable happens: You're asked to approve exceptions to the policy, by many different people, at many different levels, for a smorgasbord of reasons.
There's the sales manager. His star performer is involved in a third chargeable accident in the past 18 months, and he begs you not to bring the "policy hammer" down. The policy calls for the salesperson's company vehicle privileges to be suspended, but, the manager pleads, "Can't we make an exception? This guy is our best and brightest new performer, and if we take away his company car, we'll lose him to a competitor!"
Then, it's the vice president who gives her company-provided luxury SUV to her daughter to drive, who promptly gets a ticket for reckless driving and running a red light. The fleet manager's boss, who reports to that VP, warns the fleet manager to back off, that if he follows policy, he'll catch all kinds of grief from her.
Of course, there's the tall marketing rep who complains that he can't drive that mid-size sedan on the selector, and has his branch manager call asking for an exception for a full-size car.
You get the picture. Everyone has a reason not to adhere to that policy, to get something he or she isn't supposed to get, or to avoid the consequences of policy violations. It is guaranteed that once an exception is made, it will be the first of many. How do you turn one down, after you've approved the first one?
Pretty soon, that policy becomes little more than a series of suggestions, which are waived for anyone with a good enough excuse. The fleet manager comes to be known as an "easy mark" for anyone who violates policy and doesn't care to suffer the consequences.
Granting policy exceptions is an excellent way to screw up your fleet operation. That policy you put so much time and effort to implement is now just a scrap of paper in the suggestion box, your own authority to make decisions related to the company fleet has been compromised, and as a result, the fleet is in a low level of chaos.
2 Put All Your Eggs in One, Shiny New Basket
You go to the fleet ride and drive. That new model that everyone's been talking about is there. Loaded with new technology, a new drivetrain, and new styling, you slide behind the wheel and take it out for a spin. It handles well, has plenty of pep, lots of back seat leg room, and enough trunk space for your drivers' needs.
The hype surrounding this new model introduction has been little short of deafening. Excited, you return to the office and call the manufacturer's rep to set up a meeting immediately. The rep comes in, and you tell him you want to start rolling out the new model to your entire fleet. The rep is thrilled. He tells you he'll make sure the orders get built and delivered on time. You grab the calculator, and find that with reduced cap cost, fuel savings, and that new warranty, you'll be able to report up to the boss that you've just saved the company millions on a full three-year cycle.
It's now six months down the road. You have several hundred of the new models out in service, with a few hundred still on order.
All of a sudden, problems start trickling in. Drivers call and send e-mails complaining of issues with the engine, transmission, power steering, or all three. The trickle becomes a steady stream, and finally a flood. Vehicles start breaking down by the dozen, drivers are getting stranded, and downtime skyrockets. Then, you get the first of several recall notices, and all the vehicles must go back to the dealer to fix one thing or another.