The Car and Truck Fleet and Leasing Management Magazine

Open Letter to Every Fleet Manager's Boss!

November 2004, by Ed Bobit - Also by this author

The question, "Who ought to be boss?" is like asking "Who might to be the tenor in the quartet?" Obviously, the man who can sing tenor. -Henry Ford

If the blind leads the blind, both shall fall into the ditch.-The Bible (Matthew 15:14)

It is hard to look up to a leader who keeps his ear to the ground.-James H. Boren

In the land of the blind, the one-eyed mail is king.-Ancient Proverb


Well, an open letter to almost all fleet managers' bosses. To explain, there are more than 18,000 managers of U.S. fleets out there. If you (or I in this case) do not include those acknowledged "pros" who handle public sector and other primarily truck fleets where vehicle spec'ing is custom and heavy maintenance integral (they're definitely "different"), we pare the number down.

I'm also not including a relative handful of managers who control the nation's largest commercial fleets because they tend to be professionals as well, and typically have years of experience to apply their skills.

That nets us about 10,000 commercial fleet "managers" who desperately need recognition, encouragement, and training to perform this function with cost efficiency.

So from where does this leadership emanate? Of course, it's the boss who, in most cases, hasn't got a clue about the nature, value, and crying need that I'm referring to.


Except for our personally owned ears, neither of us is an expert on managing a fleet. So, we're kind of starting even, or at least we did when you brought me into this assignment.

If you truly want and need me to represent you in this venue and be proficient, you will need to understand the internal operations of all departments and divisions within this company that have a connection with the fleet. That: would include sales, HR, financial, executive, accounting, and others.

If you expect understandable regular reports on the fleet's performance, budget matching, new factory and fleet management programs, and new products, I will need training and exposure to these suppliers and other fleet managers.

To meet your financial goals and harness both hard and soft costs associated with purchasing and replacing vehicles, as well as operational expenses involving fuel and maintenance, I must have a working understanding in each of these areas.

If we share the priority of striving for driver productivity and influencing our company's mission and operational policies to our drivers, I need a steady learning curve corporately. The same applies for the various fleet management services such as safety and accident management.

When you allow me to review our outsource contracts, cheek our monthly billings, relate to suppliers our corporate philosophy and expectations, as well as negotiate for quality low-cost services, I need some things, too.

I need to be kept in the loop on what's happening internally and how some new policy may affect what we are doing now. I need training that can only be obtained with your approval and a travel budget. I need to attend key industry meetings such as NAPA. And AFLA, where the presentations are pertinent, what's new is announced, key suppliers are available for consultation, and there's a full opportunity to network with other fleet managers.

So, boss, here's the deal: you give me that kind of support, and I promise you I'll save the company 10 times my salary in the next year. And when that happens. I'll also expect a raise.

(If this fits, send it on to your boss with my blessings or let me know why it won't work).


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