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Government Fleet Market Trends

Market Trends offers insightful examinations of current fleet industry trends and developments, emphasizing practical, real-world impacts and applications for the professional fleet manager. In addition to zeroing in on today’s fleet realities, Market Trends also provides a “peak over the horizon,” looking to the future to identify emerging issues and trends that will affect and influence fleet management in the near and long term.

Fleet Is Not an Island Unto Itself

A successful fleet operation is not an island unto itself. Yet, this is how some fleet managers view their operation – an island surrounded by a sea of unreasonable user groups. We will all agree this is the wrong mindset and that fleet operations must be closely aligned with user departments. However, the reality is that interdepartmental friction is an unfortunate fact of life, especially territorial issues that result in emotional defiance not open to discussion or compromise.

What is the Future of Public Sector Fleet Managers?

The implementation of chargeback systems started the evolution toward professional fleet managers. No longer was the best mechanic the automatic choice to be fleet manager. The trend toward privatization was another catalyst that accelerated the evolution of the fleet function because fleet managers realized that to survive, they needed knowledge and skills beyond vehicle maintenance. These, along with other catalysts, are causing the fleet management function to morph in a new direction.

Proactive vs. Reactive Fleet Management

In today’s fiscal environment, fleet management can be more aptly described as a form of “crisis management.” More often than not, fleet decisions are driven by senior management’s knee-jerk reactions or by the never-ending need to put out fires. In this reality, it is easy to slip into a reactive fleet management style, managing the fleet from a tactical level, addressing day-to-day crisises with a knee-jerk management approach. However, in today’s environment, you can’t afford to be reactive.

Is It Time to Create an Energy Manager Position?

Most OEMs believe it will require the use of a diversity of fuels to meet the 2016 and 2025 CAFE requirements. As a result, OEMs will need to develop a broader portfolio of vehicles, powered by a diversity of fuels. Will this fuel diversity necessitate the creation of an energy professional position? The State of Colorado thinks so.. My prediction is that in the near future, additional political subdivisions will follow the lead of the State of Colorado.

Root Cause Analysis of Fleet’s Friction With User Departments

A best-in-class fleet operation has excellent interdepartmental relationships. However, this is getting harder to achieve in today’s fiscally constrained environment. Even in the best of times, interdepartmental friction is an unfortunate fact of life, but as a professional fleet manager, your job is to minimize it. Today, every department is looking to stretch scarce budget dollars, and this sometimes occurs at the expense of other departments with whom they interact.

Are You an Administrator Or a Manager?

The greatest challenge facing the future of public-sector fleet management is how we define ourselves as a profession. Are we administrators of a fleet or are we managers? Do we manage our fleet from a tactical level, putting out the day-to-day fires – or a strategic level, focusing on achieving specific long-term objectives? In the future, I believe a strategic focus will be crucial to succeed in public-sector fleet management; otherwise, you will run the risk of being relegated to mediocrity.

Thank God for Hard Times

Hard times present the opportunity (or necessity) to make needed changes in fleet management that would otherwise have never occurred during good times. Too often, change is difficult to implement in the government sector as the status quo reigns supreme. However, in an environment of dwindling resources and shrinking budgets, the “status quo model” no longer works. Business as usual is a recipe for disaster.

The Impending Retirement Tsunami & Resulting Brain Drain

The demographics of public sector fleet operations are skewing increasingly to an aging workforce. A key reason is the large number of baby boomers eligible to retire now and into the next decade. Studies have documented the implications to various industries, but there has been little discussion about the ramifications to fleet management. Not only will there be a “retirement tsunami” in fleet, but there will be an even more crippling “brain drain” of lost institutional and legacy knowledge.

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