Trends and Practices as shared by the Top 3 Ranked Fleets in North America
The NC Clean Energy Technology Center at NC State University and The 100 Best Fleets hosted a webinar on Tuesday 6/28 featuring fleet managers from a few of the top fleets that were judged best out of 38,000 Public Fleets in the 2016 Edition of The 100 Best Fleets. If you were unable to attend, we have documented the highlights to share their practices that you can apply to your own operations moving forward. Continue reading to learn more need-to-know information and practical solutions to the biggest of fleet challenges.
Ranked #3 Fleet Manager Thomas Kuryla- Wake County Raleigh, NC
Tip 1) Get an outside source. This is necessary to see what areas your fleet can best improve on. Wake County hired a 3rd party consultant to conduct a Market Study to evaluate their fleet and compare their own systems to the larger market and industry entities. Kuryla claimed this was crucial in justifying what needed improvement and finding support from management moving forward.
Tip 2) Stricter anti-idling policies. Implementing these policies will help ensure accountability of fleet assets. Wake County employees are trained on why it is important to not eat lunch in an idling car or the harm of waiting for the heat/air conditioning to fix the internal environment of a vehicle for large periods of time. Not only did Kuryla help reduce his fleets emissions, he improved employee safety and reduced wasted fuel.
Tip 3) Update your fleet information system. Kuryla believed having a transparent fleet information system that went from being at a fleet only scale to a county system dramatically improved Wake County’s accountability. Additionally, the creation of a Fleet Advisory Committee opened the door for customer involvement in the fleet and helped employees better evaluate and prioritize requests.
Ranked #2 Fleet Manager Robert Gordon- DeKalb County, GA
Tip 1) Divide your fleet. Gordon believes that by dividing his fleet into a total of six divisions rather than one huge clump in which a diverse array of vehicles travel in and out the door he has allowed room for people to become much more specialized. The direct byproduct of this change has increased fleet efficiency. Examples of divisions include heavy truck, fire shop and body shop.
Tip 2) Quality control. Quality control. Quality control. Throughout his presentation, Gordon strongly expressed the importance of implementing an aggressive training program to ensure employees are equally adequate in their skills. Understanding what one’s employees’ strengths and weaknesses are in order capitalize on those weaknesses to train towards evolving them into strengths is essential. Additionally, whenever the DeKalb County fleet is preparing to purchase new vehicles they request that the vendor send a company employee to come out and host a training workshop to educate his people on the vehicle. This prevents the risk of employee knowledge disparities moving forward.
Tip 3) Build a recruiting committee. This allows a group to focus on employing skilled individuals and filling in labor gaps. For example, Gordon discussed the strategy of reaching out to local secondary technical schools and attending career days to seek out potential candidates for future hiring waves. This helps Gordon’s fleet communicate with these centers of education as to what they are looking students to know for the job. Secondly, Gordon’s fleet has begun to recruit from the military to employ well trained truck technicians that are often hard to come by in the industry.
Ranked #1 Fleet Manager Peter Bendar- County of Ventura, CA
Tip 1) Have a diverse fleet. Bendar’s fleet is composed of everything from EV’s and PHEV vehicles to hybrids.
Tip 2) Leaders be a captain. Fleet leaders need to be take the role as captain of their fleet. Do not be afraid to engage the team. Increasing employee engagement is critical to succeeding. Additionally, every year Bendar gives the updated version of 100 Best Fleets Book to his employees as a reference guide to view practices that are being used around the nation. This booklet also serves as a tool to compare measurable outcomes with neighboring fleets.
Tip 3) Do NOT be afraid of change. It is wise to discuss challenges with your team. Inviting a problem solving environment to grow not only increases employee engagement but generates fresh perspectives on how to solve existing problems. Bendar stressed the importance of thinking of your fleet as a business and what steps one needs to take to remain competitive. Embrace change, new ideas and help nurture future leaders by supporting a think tank like culture.