How do you know you are doing a good job? As a fleet management consultant and former fleet manager, I have the opportunity to pose this question to many government and utility fleet managers across North America. Many have thought about this question, and a few have even taken steps to prove how well they are performing. However, most simply focus on budgetary performance and leave the rest of the performance picture blank. If you want to show you are competitive, and proveyou are doing a good job, you must develop performance measures and make them widely available and visible. Performance measures can:

  • Emphasize your strengths (prove you are doing a good job).
  • Identify areas where you need to improve.
  • Help you achieve future performance improvement.
  • Help you make an objective case for more (or fewer) resources.

Of course, you may be nervous about exposing your fleet’s performance to all those who care to see. A good way to ease into the process is to start slowly, select a few key areas, and measure your performance against your own historical norms. If you don’t have a way to check historical performance, then it is probably time to begin. You need to set a point of reference for future performance monitoring. Once you get started, the process is automatic. And the benefits are immeasurable.

Show Superiors Performance Reports

If your fleet organization can’t communicate its performance to upper management, there is a significant danger that management will not understand the overall value of the services being provided and may become suspicious or uncomfortable because they feel left in the dark. This may even trigger audits, studies, or other inquiries that cause fleet managers to be reactive and defensive, and scrambling to justify their performance. Fleet managers must not assume that upper management understands their business and knows that they are doing a good job. Performance measures and reports are not just for upper management. They are also important tools to communicate with fleet customers and employees as well. And they are some of the most important management tools a fleet manager can use to track and improve the organization’s performance.

Determine Areas to Measure

What is measured and reported depends on your target audience and your business objectives. Fleets can usually use the following categories to begin defining specific performance measures:

  • Cost
  • Quality of Service
  • Timeliness of Service
  • Customer Satisfaction
  • Safety
  • Regulatory Compliance
  • Fleet Utilization
  • Fleet Appearance

Upper management typically needs high-level information which can impact overall organizational performance. Customers will probably care more about the timeliness and quality of service they receive. Employees need to know what people think of their work (i.e. quality, timeliness, customer satisfaction). Specific measures and reports should not be developed in a vacuum. Different reports may be needed for upper management, customers, and fleet employees. Meet with your boss to discuss examples of industry standard performance measures and get feedback on what is important to the boss and the organization. Managers above your level in the organization often do not understand the science and complexity of fleet management. It is your responsibility to establish and communicate the meaning of key fleet performance measures and why they are important. Meet with your customers individually or in a group setting to learn what they need from your organization. Keep the meeting focused and avoid letting it dissolve into a "gripe session" by having an agenda and a written customer satisfaction survey that they should complete and return directly to you. Give them the option of completing the survey anonymously and returning it by mail. Meet with your employees and explain how ongoing performance measurement is important to the success of the fleet organization and its continued survival in the face of private competition. Let them participate in the development of performance measures that are fair and consistent. One example of a performance measure that may be of interest to management, customers, and employees alike falls into the category of "Timeliness of Service." A specific measure that is commonly used is the "Percentage of Repair Orders Completed within 24 Hours."