At a Glance
During the CFMO certification process, the City of Rochester, N.Y., Equipment Services Division:
- Created a leadership team to manage the process.
- Involved every staff member.
- Reviewed in depth each operational activity.
- Wrote policies and procedures for every fleet function, including preventive maintenance and utilization.
- Developed a detailed business plan.
- Celebrated every achievement, no matter how small.
We're better, cheaper, and faster." This operational refrain underpins the story of the Equipment Services Division for the City of Rochester, N.Y. It's a story the division team tells, in part, to compete with private sector companies that seek the City's business.
The fleet operations team recently earned a valuable validation of its story to relate to senior management, customers, the public, and most critically, City officials who make budget and privatization decisions.
The Equipment Services Division achieved Certified Fleet Management Operation (CFMO) status with the program's highest-ever score: 193 - or 97 percent - of a possible 200.
A recognized industry standard (See sidebar GFMA: Certifying Public Sector Fleet Standards), CFMO certification benchmarks fleet practices against private sector companies with which the public sector group competes most directly, according to Jim Wright, associate director of the Government Fleet Management Alliance (GFMA), the CFMO administering organization.
"The certification process sets very stringent standards based on industry best practices," Wright said. "If a public sector fleet meets the certification standards, it can compete head-to-head against the private sector."
Team Takes On the Challenge
The division began the certification process - an intensive self-audit against 120 specific best-practice criteria - in 2008. The approach taken was a true team effort. A leadership team with representatives from each operational area was assembled. Each team member was responsible for one or more target areas - goals and objectives. Each kept a three-ring binder detailing and recording the process and individual roles.
The team drilled down to the smallest details of each certification criteria, organized into 15 performance standards and covering all aspects of fleet management. Policies were written for every single piece of the certification. Key performance indicators, no matter how small, were tracked via a form the team devised to capture the data.
The certification initiative was the culmination of a concerted effort to improve the division's service and efficiency, an effort "driven and supported by the Office of the Commissioner of Environmental Services," said Chris Wagner, the City's director of operations. "It was truly a team effort, and everyone on the team should be proud of this accomplishment."
The City's Technology Services unit also provided critical and integral support in implementing the division's new computerized fleet maintenance system.
Part of the certification process focused on tightening up and clearly defining operational policies and procedures, with particular attention to preventive maintenance, utilization, and acquisition. The documents were signed by the mayor.
Customer service was another area the team worked on. Under a new customer service system, the divisional or departmental head of every customer is consulted in developing individual service level agreements. They are asked to detail what they need to perform their job in the area of vehicles, equipment, and servicing, and how best the fleet operation can fulfill those needs. The information is entered into a reporting mechanism. Meetings are held routinely with customers throughout the year, and agreements are updated and signed annually.
The Equipment Services Division's attention to detail is reflected in the fleet operation's business plan, a specific CFMO performance standard. The certification scorecard ties directly with the Division's business plan and balance scorecard.
The plan details "a blueprint to follow for the fiscal year," identifies and prioritizes the Division's goals, provides strategic direction, educates employees, decision-makers, and customers, and includes these stakeholders as "partners in the process."
Seeking Advice & Assistance
The CFMO process was implemented without interrupting the fleet operation's functions. To aid the effort, a retired senior administrative analyst was recruited to help. Every day, the analyst extracted what the team knew operationally and documented the information.
Other public sector fleet managers, including Bill DeRousse in Everett, Wash., now retired, and Marilyn Rawlings in Lee County, Fla., were also consulted and served as important resources.
Additional aid with implementing best fleet practices was provided by Laird Consulting.
As the certification's self-audit produced new and revised policies, procedures, and processes, the leadership team implemented and managed the necessary changes. And the changes are on-going-the CFMO certification must be updated every two years.
During monthly all-staff meeting reviews, all aspects of the division's functions are reviewed to examine, in particular, each service and operational activity and its purpose.
The leadership team also regularly performs a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) analysis, determining the operation's important issues.
From the beginning, the certification effort involved the entire staff. Everyone played a role in the process; everyone owned his or her own part.
At every gathering, leadership team members constantly focused on the process, reminding everyone how each person's job and responsibilities were tied with certification. Each operational function, from preventive maintenance to safety, was connected to the entire mission.
The division's mission statement is posted throughout its facility, a visual "heads-up" reminder of the group's function and values.
Celebrating small achievements with lunches and special events reinforced teamwork and staff ownership.
Team Impresses CFMO Auditor
Jim Schwab, the CFMO on-site certification auditor, was impressed with the group's cohesive efforts almost immediately.
"They have a great team. Everyone did their part and helped each other accomplish what they needed. Mike [Quattrone, assistant director of operations] is a good leader, but part of the team. There was no negativity whatsoever. Everyone was encouraging each other. And there was a level of energy and excitement that I think they experience often, not just the day I spent with them," Schwab recalled.
He also noted the group's outstanding organization. During his day-long audit, "a staff person had a cart with all the documentation on how the fleet met each standard - all right there and very organized," Schwab said.
He described the Division's service center, which includes a flat screen television monitor for customers to view progress on their vehicles.
Another innovation Schwab lauded was the Division's machine shop. "Most public sector fleet operations don't have machine shops. They're usually a loss." However, the Rochester operation's machinist regularly examines the parts stockroom, compares the cost of a part with a new unit, and when most cost effective, remanufactures needed parts.
Mike Quattrone is the City of Rochester's assistant director of operations and head of the Equipment Services Division. He believes the value of CFMO certification ultimately lies in establishing credibility, particularly with the City's budget bureau, the mayor, and commissioners. "You make a decision, and they back it up," he said. "They support you when you need to ask for funding or resources."
The real story of the City of Rochester's Equipment Services Division - the story they relate to stakeholders - is the business of their fleet operations.
"We have a fully burdened labor rate," Quattrone explained. "That's what most public sector fleets don't realize. It's a business, and you need to run it like a business, competitive with the private sector."
Certifying Public Sector Fleet Standards
A collaboration of associations and organizations dedicated to excellence in fleet management, the Government Fleet Management Alliance (GFMA) aims to bring fleet groups together to educate and promote the industry. In particular, GFMA seeks to elevate awareness of fleet operations performing at competitive levels.
Founded by Government Fleet magazine and Bobit Business Media (BBM), alliance partners include the Municipal Equipment Maintenance Association (MEMA), Fleet Counselor Services (FSC), and BBM publications Automotive Fleet, Work Truck, and Green Fleet.
Chief among GFMA activities is management and administration of the Certified Fleet Management Operation (CFMO) certification program. Through this arduous self-audit and testing process, validated by a CFMO evaluator, a public sector fleet organization can measure and improve its cost-effectiveness, efficiency, competitiveness, and management excellence.
More than 120 specific certification criteria address critical areas of fleet management. Based on industry best practices, 15 specific performance standards are measured in eight categories:
- Staffing and productivity.
- Company and employee goals, mission statement, and business plan.
- Parts inventory management.
- Replacement policy and financial program.
- Fleet utilization management.
- Fleet policy and procedures documentation.
Designating top industry-competitive fleets, the CFMO program has become the standard for ensuring first-rate fleet operation performance. More than 150 fleets are currently seeking CFMO certification. Program details are available at the GFMA website, www.gfmalliance.com.
GFMA: A Team of Leaders
The City of Rochester's Equipment Services Division assembled a leadership team to take on the challenge of achieving Certified Fleet Management Operation status. Team members include:
- Mary Gaudioso, assistant commissioner, Department of Environmental Services.
- Mike Quattrone, assistant director of operations, fleet operations supervisor.
- Scott Corser, service manager.
- Lisa Smith, warranty specialist.
- Amanda Smith, automotive parts and materials manager.
- Frank O'Hare, assistant service manager.
- Jim Billitier, assistant service manager.
- Rick Haynes, assistant service manager.
- Gary O'Donnell, assistant service manager.
- John Pecora, equipment analyst.
- Lynne Kita, accountant.
- Lakshmi Kasturi Rangan, technology applications specialist.
- Marlene Davidson, senior administrative analyst.
Note of thanks to Rupinder Kaur.
Profile: City of Rochester Equipment Services Division
Motto: "One City Fleet ... keeping Rochester on the move."
Fleet size: 1,400 motorized units. Nearly 38 percent of fleet vehicles are alt-fueled, including E-85, CNG, and electric.
Budget: $12.5 million.
Staff: 68 full-time / 4 part-time.
Organizational structure: Five business units: administration; vehicle repair; fuel management; parts, materials, and supplies management; and equipment maintenance.
Facilities: 92,000-square-foot facility, including on-site CNG fueling station.
Customers: Nine City departments and two external customers.
Staff ASE certifications: 229
Mission statement: "The mission of the Division of Equipment Services is to support all City operations by coordinating the purchase, maintenance, and repair of the City's fleet. Our mission is accomplished through our skilled employees who utilize effective communication, planning strategies, and modern technologies to provide quality services for our customers."
- Personal integrity.
- Customer focus.
- "Can-do" attitude.
View photos of the Rochester Equipment Services Division here.