Guest Editorial: How to Be a Top Public Sector Fleet Manager

November 2012, Government Fleet - Department

by Steve Kibler

Each year, Government Fleet magazine conducts a competition for the Public Sector Fleet Manager of the Year. Entries are judged by their peers, working fleet managers, and I have had the shared privilege of judging these entries for the last two years. In reading the submittals of these qualified leaders, I found a wealth of information that should be shared with every fleet manager. There are significant differences between agencies, but there were successful management practices in each category that showed genuine merit.

Let’s take each of the competition’s 10 categories and apply the common denominators that sum up to best practices.

1. Business Plan: A good business plan is a road map to success. It should cover where we want to go, how we will get there, how long it will take, and how much it will cost. It should include:
● Long-range financial mapping, projected expenses/savings/ROIs.
● Integrating and quantifying plan sustainability.
● Integrating agency core goals into the internal service plan.
● Defining phased performance benchmarks.
● Strategic timing to re-evaluate progress and make adjustments.

2. Technology Implementation: The best way to describe technology is implementing a system, tool, software, or modernized process improvement to save time and labor and reduce operating cost. Implementing technology without quantifying any operational savings doesn’t equal an improvement. The subcategories are:
● Setting cost-cutting goals before implementing the technology.
● ROI analysis of the technology.
● Utilizing barcoding technology.
● Working toward a paperless shop.
● Any technology proven to reduce direct labor.

3. Productivity: This may be the single most misunderstood category in the fleet industry. It should be noted that 75% total billed hours (of 2,080 hours) is very good, 78% is outstanding, and 85% may be calculated incorrectly. The subcategories are:
● Comparing your productivity to the private sector.
● Total billed hours at 75-80%.
● Compensation for ASE certifications.
● Regularly publishing productivity to upper management.
● Pay-for-performance budgeting.

4. Policies and Procedures: A well-written policies and procedures manual (P&P) will make any fleet manager’s job easier. Include:
● Designated centralized fleet control.
● Defined “cradle-to-grave” cost control management.
● Provisions to integrate changing customer needs.
● An active Fleet Review Committee or similar.
● Standardized practices that track costs of ownership for each asset.

5. PM Program: This is the single most important program in any fleet and the least understood by customers. Communication with your customer is your best tool. The subcategories are:
● Top-down management-supported PM program.
● Efforts to educate customers about the importance of PM.
● 90% or higher customer PM compliance.
● Posting PM inspection checklists that show the difference
between the local Fast Lube and your shop.
● Condition-based follow-through on laboratory fluid sampling.

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