How can fleet manager break the mold within the industry?   -  Photo: Government Fleet

How can fleet manager break the mold within the industry? 

Photo: Government Fleet

Life lessons can come at you from every direction, people of all ages, sports, movies, books, you name it. I’m not quite sure how I initially came across Gaby Rourke, although now that I think about it, it likely has something to do with X’s (Twitter’s) algorithm of feeding me things I like…in this case, all things soccer!

The Phenomenon of Multi-Sport Marvel

Gaby is a local high school athlete, but not your average athlete, she is nothing short of a rockstar athlete. She first caught my attention because of her outstanding goalkeeping at a local high school in the Jacksonville, FL area, just down the street from me.

And then football season came around, she was suited up kicking field goals for the varsity football team. And then, she was holding up the MVP trophy at the U.S. Army All-American national flag football game. And then, she was playing volleyball for her high school team. And then the kicker (literally in this case) that truly inspired me, the score was 2-2. Gaby stepped up to take a free-kick (90 yards from her goal line, with her goalie gloves on) while the crowd was chanting “over-rated!” BOOM, she scored from that freekick making the score 3-2.

And then, for the finishing touch in the SAME game, a 50-yard free kick. She decided to take a shot on goal by floating the ball over the goalkeeper, a wise move knowing the defending goalkeeper likely wasn’t standing on her own goal line and would likely come out a bit further to challenge a 50/50 ball. Ball goes into the net, final score, 4-2. It was like a Disney movie.

What does Gaby Rourke and her ability to be a multi-sport, high-performing, kick-walls-down athlete have anything to do with fleet management? Breaking the mold.   -  Photo: Facundo Tassara

What does Gaby Rourke and her ability to be a multi-sport, high-performing, kick-walls-down athlete have anything to do with fleet management? Breaking the mold. 

Photo: Facundo Tassara

Drawing Parallels: Gaby Rourke and Fleet Management

So what does Gaby and her ability to be a multi-sport, high-performing, kick-walls-down athlete have anything to do with fleet management? She is breaking the mold, much like fleet managers need to break several molds. Why can’t a female be a star in a mostly male-dominated sport like football? Why can’t a goalkeeper also be the finesse finish freekick taker? I’m sure Gaby would just tell you she was doing her job.

So, I’ll ask the question again, why shouldn’t fleet managers be breaking the mold? Let’s briefly acknowledge the truth, and it may get a little uncomfortable. The automotive service industry isn’t a fashionable, respected, or even highly sought-after industry. In fact, from the moment we interact with people we meet, we have to build trust because mechanics, shop owners, and fleet managers have this reputation of not being trustworthy people.

Unfortunately, it’s usually the very few with unethical practices that ruin it for the rest of us. To most, we are just the people in the background fixing vehicles. Dirty and unprofessional. Well, I have news for the entire world, we keep it all moving…from everyday last-mile deliveries to emergency services, to public works crews, fleet professionals literally keep the flow of goods and services moving.

Gaby Rourke has been a star in a mostly male-dominated sport.  -  Photo: Facundo Tassara

Gaby Rourke has been a star in a mostly male-dominated sport.

Photo: Facundo Tassara

Strategies for Breaking the Mold in Fleet Management

So what’s my recommendation for you to break the mold in fleet management? I have several:

  • Stop being so comfortable at work, dress to impress. My rule of thumb when I was a fleet manager was to dress on at least the same level as those leaders I’d be interacting with. You know, the people that have the power to get you what you need.
  • Be able to communicate your needs as a fleet on similar terms that your superiors are familiar with. Figure out how to translate automotive KPIs and fleet speak directly into a lingo that means something to them. Believe me, they’ll have a soft spot and a specific style that they are looking for.
  • Fleet management, particularly in the government, will get very political. You may not like it, but if you are going to be successful, you need to play the game. That’s part of the job, full stop.
  • Attend council meetings now and then, even if you are not on the docket. When you attend a council meeting and you are on the docket, chances are, you are not paying attention because you are nervous about the potential grilling you are about to receive. When you attend one for the sake of just attending, you’ll be able to learn more about the process and how you need to prepare.
  • Don’t fall for the “government fleet is not innovative” sentiment oftentimes held by those in the private sector. I have always said that government fleets are very innovative, it’s the government process that discourages innovation because it slows it down…but that doesn’t mean it prevents it. Be innovative, just be patient too.
About the author
Facundo Tassara

Facundo Tassara

Fleet Success Ambassador, RTA: The Fleet Success Company.

Facundo Tassara is the fleet success ambassador with RTA: The Fleet Success Company. He previously worked as the fleet manager for the cities of Norfolk, Va., and Ormond Beach, Fla.

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