How do fleet managers get management to recognize and acknowledge their contribution to the company. Most fleet managers aren’t high up in the corporate hierarchy and must rely on their immediate management to properly represent fleet’s viewpoint, which often doesn’t happen. The end result is that management underrates the contribution made by fleet managers.
Below are 10 ways to ensure management recognizes your contribution to the company’s bottom line:
1. Link Fleet to the Corporation's Overall Mission
Develop metrics to show how fleet is helping achieve the corporate mission and goals. Besides demonstrating expertise in fleet management, you must demonstrate an in-depth knowledge of your company’s product line/services, sales/marketing objectives, and the needs of user groups. You must implement fleet programs that contribute to the achievement of overall company goals and facilitate support to user groups to successfully meet their objectives.
2. Create a Network of Interdepartmental Allies
One strategy to elevate your stature with senior management is to expand and build new relationships within the company. Interdepartmental cooperation is an integral part of how management views a fleet manager. You must establish a relationship with every department touched by fleet to address their needs, keep them informed, and gain buy-in with fleet policy. The more people you know (and who know you) increases recognition of your work and how it benefits the company. While everyone agrees it is important to network within the fleet industry; it is also just as important to network within your company. Your ultimate goal is to be the in-house subject-matter expert with whom management consults when making major decisions.
3. Focus on the Internal Customer
A great fleet manager recognizes their primary goal is serving end-user departments and drivers. They establish a cooperative, working relationship with all internal departments associated with fleet operations and are proactive with their needs. Great fleet managers understand that the managers and drivers they support are key to their success. They are service savvy. They keep their sights set on the end-user and the board of directors, as well as everyone in between.
4. Implement Goal-Oriented Fleet Management
You must manage the fleet from a strategic level focused on achieving specific long-term objectives using metrics to benchmark actual (not presumed) progress. Become goal oriented in all aspects of fleet operations, especially driver productivity and safety, and strive to reduce not only hard costs, but also soft costs, such as downtime and fleet-induced impediments to employee productivity. Use metrics to benchmark progress to achieve these objectives. The challenge for today’s fleet managers is to continue to find ways to add value to their company and the bottom line.
5. Cultivate the Skillset to Turn Strategy into Tactics
It is one thing to enunciate fleet strategies for cost containment and productivity enhancement, it is another thing to achieve them. You must cultivate the critical skill of turning strategic goals into effective tactics to achieve these goals. You need to be more than just talk, you need to gain a reputation of producing results.
6. Metrics-Oriented, Measure Everything
Great fleet managers understand that what gets measured gets managed and hold themselves and team members to goals. They are results-oriented and understand metrics. These fleet managers drive for continuous improvement to achieve specific business results. For them, there is no such thing as the “status quo.”
7. Keep Management Informed on Fleet Performance
A corollary to being an excellent communicator is the understanding that most executives are not fleet management experts. When communicating with senior management, only provide data critical to making a decision. Keep reports jargon-free and formatted for quick review and comprehension.
8. Ability to Effectively Present to Senior Management
Great fleet managers have strong presentation skills, both in putting together effective reports and delivering them to keep upper management informed. If you wish to be respected within your corporation, this skill is a requirement in corporate business. If you can’t present or effectively report to senior management, your value will never be recognized by them.
9. Develop an Even Closer Partnership with Suppliers
Work with fleet suppliers to optimize their performance. Just as important, you must never stop learning. It is important to confer with suppliers to be on top of the latest products and services in the market. Many fleet managers make themselves inaccessible to prospective suppliers. By doing so, they are missing a wonderful opportunity to pick their brains to learn of new industry developments. You need to continually ask suppliers what they have seen in their client base that is successful. Could these practices be implemented in your fleet operation? If you are not continually learning about fleet management, about new products and services, it’s easy to become stale at what you do.
10. Involved with the Industry
A great fleet manager is connected to the industry at large. They become involved with industry associations, such as NAFA and Automotive Fleet & Leasing Association (AFLA). They read fleet industry publications. The more widely read and knowledgeable you are, the less the likelihood you might be seen as a “one-trick pony.” Be knowledgeable about the major trends in the overall auto industry.