Sifting through the events of the past and finding the common threads to present-day challenges can paint a better picture of what can be done differently in the present for success. As a fleet, learning from the past allows for more ways to plan for the future for the best interest of the fleet and the people who keep the operation moving.
The other day I asked our facilities manager if he could pull up the Government Fleet's first print issue. Someone had previously asked if I could find an article from the early 2000s so it got me thinking, “What was in that first issue of Government Fleet?”
The issue that I got back, presented to me in the future as a clean pdf, was from May/June 2003 and included a mix of topics that are still relevant as well as questions that we know the answer to today. One of those included an article, sandwiched between a Toyota Corolla ad and a promo for this new thing called e-news, with the headline “Is There Really a Technician Shortage?” That’s no longer a question, but a statement. These days it’s not only a challenge to find technicians but bring on people who have knowledge of evolving vehicle technology.
Industry news included the addition of Prius Hybrids being added to fourteen cities in Texas. At the time, the Arizona Department of Administration was urging agencies with vehicle fleets to limit trips whenever possible. The follow-up to these news items was an article on organizations being asked to cut costs. While the economics have changed, the principle can still be applied to today: “In tough economic times, it is even more important for fleet managers to totally understand and be able to explain all of the cost elements associated with their fleet pie.”
Go through the rest of the issue and it’s clear that the economy was on everyone’s minds. And how could it not? It was 2003. There was uncertainty about the war in Iraq, economic risks with an aforementioned adjustment to the US external deficit, and the markets reached a low below Dow 7500 in mid-March 2003. How does this all apply to today’s fleet planning?
Part of the reason for looking at the past is to see if we can do anything differently. It takes time and research but going back through trends may offer insight on how to handle future changes and how fleets can make changes to grow alongside this evolution.
On the other hand, looking back reminds us to also live in the present. There are vehicles to operate and employees to take care of and you have to be able to make the right decisions.
As one writer explained in that first issue, “How you and your organization respond could determine the scope and structure of your service matrix. Failing to respond in a timely manner may take those decisions completely out of your hands.”