GF just released the annual survey for Public Fleets. 218 fleets responded to the survey and the results should indicate a reasonable cross section of the 3,000+ professionally managed fleets across the country.

During my examination of all the categories, statistics and comparisons, I found one category that shocked me to the core; 64% of fleet managers retiring in 1-5 years did not have a succession plan in place. Thankfully, GF quantified this group: 78.5 fleet managers of the 218 who responded are retiring in 1-5 but 50 of those don’t have a succession plan in place… Oh – sorry, 25 are “working on it.” We all know what that means; like the half dozen or so broken down trucks and tractors sitting way out back on my uncle’s farm in Iowa. When asked what his plan was for those vehicles? He had a plan – – – “I’m gonna fix those up some day.”

I used to work for a manager who guarded his knowledge with the attitude of a two-headed rattle snake. He believed that if anyone else knew what he knew or how he did what he did, than he was no longer needed. Of the vast institutional knowledge and fleet wisdom that he had, he shared < 1% with me – his most likely successor. The result for me was countless, unnecessary mistakes and unhappy customers because he had not shared any roadmap with me how he got the fleet where it was. Was he hoping to sit back after retirement and say to himself: “See how good of a fleet manager I was? It all went downhill after I left.” If 64% of you are going to retire in 1-5 years and don’t have a working succession plan; Dr. Phil would say: “What were you thinkin?”

When the leader of a well-managed fleet retires or gets hit by a bus (it can happen…), after the appropriate morning period like technicians with black grease rags in their back pocket for 30-days; back hoe booms at half-mast, the fleet’s operation should continue seamlessly as though the bus was out-of-service that day (I’m sure there is some irony there…) Compare it to a building on stilts. It’s held high by more than one… The more stilts holding an equal load, the more stable the building. How many of your staff is equally supporting what you built?

If you were/are a good fleet manager, lived by good principles, shared your values, nurtured your staff, whomever you choose as your successor will be good at his or her job. It won’t be your fleet anymore, it will be theirs. Your legacy isn’t your job title; it’s the levels of customer service and efficiency you maintained throughout your leadership. If it goes downhill after you retire, it doesn’t mean you were good – it means you failed to create a lasting culture of sound fleet management, customer trust and best practices.

Now, of you 78.5 fleet managers who don’t have a formal succession plan in-place, are you “gonna fix that up someday” – You better start today…

About the author
Steve Kibler

Steve Kibler

Fleet Manager

Born to rural Iowa, Steve was trained at an early age that nothing was free for the asking. If you wanted something you had to make it a goal and work for it. Even as a toddler, Steve immediately had a talent for taking anything apart.

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