Managing a fleet of vehicles is no easy task—but it’s even harder when so many misconceptions arise about your job. From thinking it’s a dying profession to assuming all drivers don’t care about costs, here are some of the biggest misunderstandings affecting the industry today:
1. It’s a Dying Profession: People think technology and outsourcing will replace fleet management, but, according to Business Fleet, that’s simply not true. Nothing can replace the insider knowledge and expertise of an on-staff manager who knows and understands the team. That means fleet managers aren’t going anywhere. However, they are being prompted to adopt new technologies that are designed to codify their insider knowledge and standardize their processes. For example, the best-in-class transportation management systems (TMS) used for common carrier management are now providing private fleet management functionality too. While the profession isn’t dying, those unwilling or unable to make the jump into the 21st century risk being left behind.
2. It’s Only a Part-Time Task: Far from a part-time job, fleet management is a highly involved vocation—one that includes resolving employee complaints, handling a great deal of paperwork, and more. For this reason, fleet managers usually must fill full time roles.
3. Technology Doesn’t Matter: Just because technology won’t replace fleet managers doesn’t mean technology doesn’t have a place in successful fleets. The truth is, technology is key in supporting active fleets. From cell phone technology to GPS tracking devices, to the TMS software mentioned earlier, technology improves efficiency and communication throughout your team.
4. You Can Set a Succession Plan Later: According to Government Fleet’s 2012 Industry Profile survey, 35% of fleets lack a formal succession plan. But when a fleet manager doesn’t train successors—because of a fear of being replaced, for example—that manager sets his or her fleet up for failure. Eventually, every manager has to be replaced, and it’s important to have a plan to make that transition a smooth one.|
5. You Can Rely on Only One Manufacturer: Some fleet managers make the mistake of relying too heavily on one single manufacturer rather than developing relationships with several. This is harmful when problems arise and you have no backup in place. For this reason, smart fleet managers work with several select manufacturers, to diversify their sources.
6. You Can Make Everyone Happy. Bill Cosby was right: “The key to failure is trying to please everybody.” This is as true in fleet management as it is anywhere else. Too many fleet managers make the mistake of trying to meet everyone’s demands, without comparing that against the greater good.
7. Drivers Don’t Care about Costs: People think truckers don’t care about costs because the costs don’t come out of their pockets—but that’s not necessarily the case. When employees have pride in their work, that pride includes taking care of their company resources, from a truck to a laptop or a cell phone. Companies do well to instill this sort of responsibility in their staff members by letting employees know they’re paying attention and rewarding good behavior.
Have you encountered any of these misunderstandings already in your fleet management work? What other myths seem to be prevalent?
Guest Blogger: Robert J. Hall is president of Track Your Truck, a leader in GPS vehicle tracking systems and software for small and midsized companies.