A business plan is the written description of an organization’s future. It should be three-dimensional, categorized by executive, fleet organization, and customer levels.
This newly shaped plan should document your vision and strategies. Your success is only possible with the support and acceptance of all investors — executive, fleet, customers. Show what you will do, what they can do, and together you will have the success you outlined in the plan.
Leveling Out the Plan
Strategic planning should be the foundation of every level and dimension of a business plan. The executive level outlines a marketing strategy. At the fleet organization level, the strategy is to display the diversity of the services provided and how each program promotes a well-balanced and well-planned service-oriented support operation. The strategy for the customer level is to partner together in a win-win situation.
I. Executive Level. As the most critical part of the plan, this marketing summary should present interesting and compelling accounts of your organization — past, present, and future. Reflect expansions in services due to annexation, insourcing, and new regulations.
A picture is worth a thousand words, so be sure to include graphics. Graphs and charts are effective ways to showcase what is happening in your fleet. Investors need to understand your vision, mission, and strengths, and the return on their investment.
The following elements should be included in the executive summary.
- Introduction: Your mission, vision, and value statements, and an introduction to your fleet organization. Explain what you have accomplished, a brief description of fleet history and status, and how you accomplished the changes and enhancements.
- Fleet agency overview: Shows who you are and where you plan to be in the future. Explain your purpose and acknowledge customers, your fleet mix, and customer benefits.
- Services provided: Explains the service programs offered to customers. List a brief description of each.
- Marketing and competitive analysis: Highlights your services as a better competitive advantage to the local markets. Demonstrate market comparisons and projected savings in time and dollars.
- Acknowledge customer needs.
- Explain the results of your SWOT analysis. Describe your strategy for reducing the weaknesses and overcoming threats.
- Teamwork and organization: Highlight your professionalism. Sound your own horn and showcase your staff. Include your team’s experience and the certifications and awards they hold.
- Financial outlook: Budget details, how the budget is projected, and controllable and non-controllable costs. Graphically display different budgets separately. Show budget progression over the last five years, the current budget projection, and the next five years’ projections.
- Programs: Be sure to include the fleet preventive and predictive maintenance programs as well as special campaign programs.
II. Fleet Organization Level. Designed primarily for fleet organization staff, this also serves as an eye-opener for both executives and customers. Be sure to include the executive summary and customer service plans.
Fleet operations today encompass diverse programs and services such as maintenance, asset management, green initiatives, inventory control, bulk fluids and fuels, technology, training and certifications, and utilization. Create mini business plans for each program and include an activity-based budget for each. Budgeting at the program level lets investors see the impact of funding changes on the service levels. Some programs may be internal to your fleet operations and your agency, and others will extend to outside agencies.
The following elements should be included in the fleet organization plans:
- A mission, vision, and purpose statement for each plan that supports the overall fleet operation.
- Budgets for each program and services provided.
- Roles and responsibilities, as well as processes necessary to be successful. The processes visually display what goes into making the programs work and helps provide direction and consistency for the programs.
- Measures used to monitor service levels.
- Combined years of experience and technical expertise by program.
- Professional and technical certifications the fleet organization has received with a brief description of each type.
III. Customer Level. Two different but individually vital strategies are used in preparing these plans for and with customers. The first and foremost is partnering with customers. Recognition of the importance of their mission and goals is a primary aspect and you need to clarify how you will invest in their overall success by providing equipment and services. You partner with each customer by providing the support services and resources, and they provide the funding.
The second strategy is to detail the expectations between you and customers. Documenting expectations provides a goal and a base for customer satisfaction. It also lends itself to creating formal business service agreements with each customer. Use graphics to show customers’ unique fleets and chart your service level improvements.
The following elements should be included in the customer service plans:
- Fleet mission.
- Fleet diversity and dynamics.
- Service expectations.
- Customer benefits received from your services.
- Service descriptions and rates.
Many fleet organizations are reaping the rewards by implementing this multi-level business plan model. The City of San Antonio, Texas, has seen results in customer satisfaction ratings, customer loyalty, better morale within the fleet organization, and less struggle for funding. Fleet management reviews the plan throughout the year and adjusts as necessary. Several major universities have implemented this business planning strategy in their fleet divisions and have documented savings while improving services.
Do Your Research
Many different business plan models are available today. You can find books on business planning, search the Internet and download samples, and buy software to help you develop your plan. Networking groups and national associations are also good sources, or you can request the help of experienced consultants to help custom-develop a plan specifically for your fleet. Whichever you choose, remember to include input from all three levels your plan will address. Involving these groups before the written plan is complete will help create a plan that will be accepted and implemented.