Technology and ever-increasing regulations will continue to challenge the industry over the next 10 years, but at a rate of change not seen in the last 50 years. - Photo: Unsplash/Ales Nesetril

Technology and ever-increasing regulations will continue to challenge the industry over the next 10 years, but at a rate of change not seen in the last 50 years.

Photo: Unsplash/Ales Nesetril

When was the last time you went to a favorite fast food franchise drive-through, only to discover at home that what you received was not what was ordered? Fast food chains are known for being the business sector that has invested heavily in creating and continually improving processes. Their success is dependent upon ensuring customers consistently receive food in a relatively short period of time and for it to taste the same, regardless of which location you visit. So why do we end up with cold french fries occasionally or, at some locations, consistently? The staff is trained, technology is present to ensure consistency, and every process has been scrutinized ad infinitum.

A process with errors in it will consistently deliver the same results of not meeting expectations — as will an employee who is not motivated to perform a task properly. Either of these challenges can result in your french fries resembling wet noodles instead of hot, crisp potato sticks. However, a bad process can be overcome by a talented employee, whereas the opposite is rarely true.

Changing Technologies Mean Updating Processes

Fleet maintenance and the fast food industry are similar in that they need employees to perform the more dexterous tasks machines cannot accomplish. Each industry benefits from the establishment of good processes, employee training programs, and having the right tools at hand for each task. However, the industries differ in the variety and complexity of unforeseen problems that occur on a regular basis that processes have difficulty in addressing quickly. Fleet technicians are often challenged with insufficient or incorrect diagnostic and repair information, not having the right specialty tool for the task at hand, and unrealistic expectations based on the resources made available.

We are currently living through a transportation renaissance where battery electric and hydrogen vehicles can be purchased at your local dealership, cars and trucks can automatically brake or steer out of danger, over-the-air computer software updates reduce the need to visit a dealership, and autonomous vehicles are being tested on public roads. All of this technology, and ever-increasing regulations, will continue to challenge the industry over the next 10 years, but at a rate of change not seen in the last 50 years.

Fleets will be operating in a constant state of adjustment that will make the development of long-term strategies and a commitment to one or two powertrain technologies difficult. The vision for the organization and the objectives that are the road map for employees to follow will need to change before new and more efficient processes can be created. The industry-wide transformation will require a team whose members’ strengths include good communication skills, a positive attitude, and the ability to accept change while working collaboratively in problem-solving new processes.

Success will be measured in outcomes that will be dependent on employees being trained on the vision and understanding the objectives, while being empowered to deviate from a particular process to achieve overall goals. Does your team have the necessary skills and abilities needed to reinvent french fries and create new processes to keep your customers happy?

About the Author

David Worthington
Manager of Fleet and Construction Support
East Bay Municipal Utility District, Oakland, Calif.

David Worthington has over 32 years of comprehensive management experience in automotive and truck related industries which include: public and private fleet management, franchised truck dealerships, wholesale and retail part operations, insurance claims, collision repair, manufacturing, and sales. He currently serves as the vice chair of the Northern California Chapter of the Municipal Equipment Maintenance Association (MEMA), and as a board member of the East Bay Clean Cities Coalition.

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