Gov’t Fleet Managers Work Together to Find Solutions

July 08, 2010

Fleet managers shared their challenges with their peers, who were able to provide possible solutions.

AUSTIN, TX - Public sector fleet managers had the opportunity to get feedback from peers on how to handle some of the biggest challenges they face today during a roundtable discussion at the Government Fleet & Expo (GFX) in Austin, Texas.

More than 60 professionals gathered for the "Big Challenges and Big Solutions Networking Roundtable," the last session on day two of GFX.

Mike Antich, editor of Government Fleet magazine, moderated the session. Participants were split into approximately 10 tables, categorized by "industry suppliers" and "fleet personnel." With each table seating four to seven people, the roundtable provided an intimate setting for small group discussions. Antich instructed attendees to spend the first 15 minutes introducing themselves to the rest of the table, then share the biggest challenges each currently faces in their organization.

After the initial sharing, participants had a chance to briefly identify possible solutions and helpful practices among the group members at the table. Each group selected one representative to act as spokesperson in front of the entire room.

Each table had a group member stand up in front of the audience and share the findings of the smaller discussions. Bob Stanton, Polk County, shared his group's challenges and solutions.

Challenges and solutions identified included:

• Managed competition and privatization. Fleet managers can never get too comfortable; fleets must prepare for this by ensuring operations run as efficiently and cost-effectively as possible.

Underutilization of vehicles. One suggestion was to cooperate with other departments.

Training. Fleets should work with OEMs and try to get as much free training as possible done on-site.

Fuel prices and contingency supply. A possible solution to explore is underground storage of fuel purchased in bulk and working with community vendors for emergencies.

Budget. With fleet replacement funds a lucrative target for cost-cutting, fleets must educate politicians about the impact of such cuts.

Support from stakeholders. Hold an education session to justify the existence of fleet services to politicians, etc.

Replacing technician tools. One shop has invested in owning its tools.

Entitlement by employees. Overcome these attitudes and promote team identity. Talk to HR and have performance measurement included in job description.

Skill sets. Keep technician skills up through skill assessment, job performance review, and other incentives. Let employees know how much they are valued.

Compliance with alternative-fuel use mandates. Monitor through fuel cards.

Take-home vehicles. Explain pros and cons to decision makers.

In addition to challenges on the fleet manager side, suppliers also identified challenges in the industry. Suppliers indicated the resistance fleets have to new technology on the market and introducing technology to an organization that hasn't used the product/program before.

"It's challenging to get fleets to accept new technology," said one group spokesperson for the industry suppliers. Taking time to educate would help, he said, noting examples such as participating as a guest speaker at industry events. Validation and proving the technology has worked in a real environment is important. Suppliers asked fleets keep an open-mind to these solutions.

Overall, the session was well-received by attendees, with several requesting more time be added to next year's roundtable so all participants have an opportunity to share their own proven solutions and best practices for each challenge identified.

Click here for additional GFX conference coverage.


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