The Car and Truck Fleet and Leasing Management Magazine

Our Fleet Industry Challenge: Effective Education

Various sources offer news, best practices, case histories, research, opinion, certification, white papers, conferences, shows, local meetings, and networking opportunities. Do we need to do more or get smarter in direction?

November 2010, by Ed Bobit - Also by this author

No one will dispute that in every profession there is a basic need for individual learning to augment one’s experience so they can add value to their company’s objectives. This axiom is fairly simple, but studying the practicality and impact that education projects is much more complex.

More so, in these ever-changing times. We only need to reflect on the sea change in our industry to conclude that during one generation’s time, we needed to alter our efforts to match the needs of the entire fleet market. What we did to educate “yesterday” isn’t nearly enough or necessarily on target to assist those who need knowledge most today.

More Fleet Education Needed
To apply some analysis to the total picture, I think we can say that public sector fleet managers are, overall, a pretty sophisticated and dedicated group. They are vehicle-savvy career people with truck, off-road, and repair shop responsibilities. For the most part, we could define them as the “post-graduate” group who never stop learning, but are on top of their game.

There is an almost finite thin strata of these well-educated/ experienced people in the commercial fleet area, typically veterans running huge fleets. It is this area where there are more than 10,000 “fleet managers” tending to their assigned vehicles. This is also an almost arid desert of fleet know-how for perhaps three quarters of this group. This is precisely the part of the industry crying for their level of education — and they’re not getting their share.

You see, a generation ago fleet management companies started convincing corporate execs they had the formula for off-site supervision and cost-saving operations. They were “right,” and today they dominate the corporate scene. It also created a situation where, in some cases, even the experienced managers of large fleets were eliminated.

This evolution continues today, and we emerge with an abundance of “fleet administrators” with little or no experience, who don’t have management’s ear, and also have other areas of responsibility. They can’t get their boss to approve going to a conference and have little way or time to train, consult, or take even online education.
They may not fully understand how to audit the outsourcers or to recommend changes. Oh, they’ll likely get one side of direction from their FMC, but will it be straight? The factory OEMs now feature the tiered (CAP-type) incentives so we’ve lost that old wisdom needed when the selector simply was “Chevy, Ford, or Plymouth.”

We recognize and empathize with this large, secondary section of the commercial fleet segment. We understand the urgency for a specific kind of fleet education being made available for easy assimilation.

Without diminishing our role, both in print and online, for the entire industry, we’re rededicating ourselves to provide “Fleet 101,” the basics, in palatable form to raise the level of professionalism across the board. If you are one who will benefit, I assure you that you won’t have to take three or four days off to enroll in a boot camp. Just keep your eyes glued to our pages and online with us.

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