These scenarios are real-life fleet situations from fleet user customers. Sometimes fleet policy does not address ways to deal with these unplanned challenges. I’ve scaled down the details to keep the blog short. Please suggest a possible solution as though it was a request from one of your fleet’s user departments.
You’re recovering from the worst winter storm in 30-years; repeated power outages, equipment accidents, worn and broken equipment, media embellishment of the facts, lots of civil whining, etc. Upper management and elected officials are focused on the need for a better response in the event of a similar future storm. The upcoming fiscal budget is complete, approved locked-and-loaded for January 1st the start of a new fiscal cycle. Every department head views this seasonal storm crisis as an opportunity to request additional equipment so they are better prepared to deal with any similar future crisis. First published on 12/04/2012; here is how our upper management responded to these requests:
• The Police Department formally requests changing budgeted replacement sedans (6 @ $13K /ea) to six SUV’s ($27K/ea). Justification is for better response to emergencies during storms.
o Upper management approved 1 of the 6 upgrade requests and told Fleet to “fund the upgrade through savings in other purchases.” (Reasonable and doable)
• The Streets Department formally requests purchasing one wheel loader mounted, self-powered 2-stage snow blower ($100K). Justification is for keeping one street artery open during storms.
o Upper management approved this request and appropriated funds from capital reserves. This happened four years ago and to-date has not been needed. (This was a $91,000.00 reaction to citizen demand.)
• Power Utility Department formally requests changing budgeted replacement of two, class-6, 2WD Aerial trucks to 4WD’s ($20K/ea. upgrade). Justification is for better response to outages during storms.
o Upper management rejected this request. (Appropriate response)
• Solid Waste Department formally requests $200K for retro-fitting 16 existing refuse trucks with snow plows “just like New York City.” Justification is to clear residential streets during major storms of >6” of snow.
o Upper management approved this request and appropriated funds from Solid Waste capital reserves. This happened four years ago and to-date these plows have been needed to clear residential streets once. The public response was positive but the capital cost was approximately $175,000.00. There is also significant mobilization cost each time the plows are mounted to 16 trucks. Our shop must assign a technician to help the operators do plow mounting and hydraulic hookups during mobilization. Our city averages 310 days of sunshine per year, of which 345 daily highs are above freezing. (This was a $175K reaction to citizen demand.)
After hearing the first reading on this post-budget emergency appropriation, the City Council requests that staff come back and present them a case-study defining the merits of each request. You (fleet manager) will be responsible for delivering that report to Council. The case studies were not needed because the political ramifications of doing some of these items were appealing to the wishes of the voters. Opinion: Sometimes you have to respond in ways that are impractical to satisfy the demands of the public. Welcome to democracy.
You understand that all these requests are essentially knee-jerk reactions to a freak 50-year storm, how would you respond? Would you present the report to Council exactly as you interpret each need or would you approach each department request individually and debate their true merit?
You make the call how to handle this customer request???
Remember, your goal is great customer service while keeping this customer as an ally of Fleet Management.