By: Shawna Laird, Business Manager
Strategy is defined as a long-term plan of action to achieve a particular goal. Strategy is about choices and recognizing that those choices can affect your outcome. By creating an effective strategy in producing a Business Plan, unfavorable results can be reduced or avoided. All Business Plans should be three dimensional and include: 1. Business Plan; 2. Fleet Program Plans; and 3. Customer Service Agreements.
Let’s take a look at the different components of a Business Plan.
Executive Summary: The Executive Summary should be one to two pages long and include your Mission and Vision statements. Be sure to introduce your fleet organization. Describe the programs and services that your organization provides in supporting the using departments. Brag on the organization! Show your accomplishments and how those accomplishments were achieved.
Fleet Overview: Showcase your organization. Explain the purpose of your organization and the diversity of the equipment that composes the fleet. Highlight the benefits of your organization and define the services provided. Acknowledge your customers, both internal and external. Go crazy and use charts and graphs that are easy to understand and still make the point.
Marketing and Organizational Analysis: Define your customer needs. Show that your organization understands their needs and explain how your organization can and does meet those demands. Publish a SWOT (Strength, Weakness, Opportunities, and Threats) Analysis. Get your staff and user departments involved by asking them to participate in the SWOT Analysis before publication. Work your strengths and hire to fill areas of weakness. If you cannot hire, then create a plan to promote or train staff to fill those weak areas.
Teamwork and Organization: Accentuate your team. List your awards and certifications. Emphasize the expertise of your staff by detailing their accomplishments and certifications. Stress the experience you have in your organization (number of years, diversity of skills, etc.) Your team is central to the success of your organization and your Business Plan.
Financial Outlook: You’ve all heard “run it like a business.” Create your budget at the program level. Include a Profit & Loss statement and analyze current market trends. Underscore your organization’s commitment to reduce costs by explaining programs that will be implemented to save money.
Appendix A: Fleet Program Plans: Plan by program. Include the goals, tasks, measurements, procedures, processes, roles, responsibilities, and reports. Clearly state the goals and objectives of the organization. Use visual work flow charts to highlight your tasks and processes. Charts can be easier to read and understand and can lead to better comprehension of how the organization works. Define the roles and responsibilities of your staff and explain their part in the overall success of the organization. Outline the reports you will use and how you will analyze the performance of the organization. Include sample reports or dashboards.
Appendix B: Customer Service Agreement: Partner with your customers and define both your organization’s and the customer’s expectations. Explain your organization’s processes and the costs and benefits of the services and programs.
Update your Business Plan annually and publish it. Have it available to your staff and user departments both in print and electronically. Upload it to your intranet. Schedule meetings, at your facility, with upper management, city council, county commissioners, or your board of directors to review your Business Plan, especially if new people are elected or hired. Ask for feedback from the readers. You never know what ideas and programs may come from those comments.
By: Shawna Laird, Business Manager & Business Services Team
Roller coasters – you either like them or you don’t. They can give you a thrill or a scare, depending on whether you are going up, or coming down. It appears that as in the past several years our fleet budgets will take a ride on the fuel cost roller coaster, again. Energy price forecasts are highly uncertain and the prices are on the accent on this roller coaster. The cost per gallon at the pump includes taxes and fees. With the recent changes to the tax breaks, the consumer will see this roller coaster continue to climb. Although most government entities are exempt from taxes, there are fees per gallon that are passed on to the customer.
Taming this roller coaster will require more than one rider. Before we start on the ride, we need to recognize what factors on this ride, are controllable and by whom. Some factors the fleet manager has no control over. Massive storms and unusual weather can definitely impact the ride, tossing the budgets to and fro. Fleet budgets will be impacted by these factors. Government mandates also make the ride more of a scare than that of a thrill. Although we can reduce the carbon footprint for our fleets, that does not equate to lower cost of ownership or cost per mile. Be sure to monitor the total costs not just the fuel cost per gallon. Fleet managers can’t control the cost per barrel of crude oil, but they can partner with their purchasing group or co-ops to ensure a better price per gallon, and purchase more cost efficient vehicles during the replacement cycles. The driver/operators can’t control the need for the fuel, but they can help to conserve the amount necessary to get their jobs and tasks done. Management can help reduce on site meetings and encourage ride sharing.
Many fleet agencies have implemented service level agreements for maintenance and rental of the vehicles and equipment. Enhance your service level agreements to include fueling profiles and expectations in your end user service agreements. Include vehicle sizing, accurate usage reporting, tire pressure monitoring, PM compliance, and promotion of alternative transportation methods in your profile and service agreement.
Create an internal fuel conservation monthly campaign. Set goals, track the progress and put a value on it. Share the information with your staff, your management, and your customers. Work with your management to encourage participation at all levels within your organization. Challenge the end users and give them recognition.
Ride the fuel cost roller coaster and when you make it to the bottom in one piece; get ready to go again.
By: Shawna Laird, Business Manager & Business Services Team
In the last several years, Utilization Management and Shared Resources have been ‘in the news, on the horizon, and adopted in budget goals and fleet business plans. In 2012, we are challenged at looking deeper – into the small “stuff” and the specialty equipment.
We all recognize that every fleet has a substantial investment in vehicle and equipment assets that their customers need for the delivery of service; and we know the goal of a Utilization Management Program is to balance under and over utilized vehicles and equipment for a more efficient and cost effective use of the fleet assets. We have traditionally overlooked a large category of fleet assets, the small and specialty assets, and we all have plenty of them. Often times, we have one for every service center or for every crew throughout the agency jurisdiction.
We are targeting specialized and small equipment that may or may not have meters on them, but are included on your fleet asset list. Small and specialized equipment is often overlooked or put on the back burner for utilization management programs and planning. It is time to track the ‘use’ of this type of asset and record use patterns. Need vs. convenience?
Make it an objective in 2013 to begin accurate tracking of the use of these units throughout your agency. Look at alternative technologies for tracking use, such as Automated Vehicle Location (AVL), Global Positioning Systems (GPS) and Automated Pooling Systems (APS). These are available to track the actual use of the equipment. This technology tracks the number of times the equipment/vehicle is operated rather than the number of engine hours or miles driven or even days in use. In small and specialized equipment the number of times the unit is used is a better measure of the use than hours or miles driven.
Once you have data on the actual ‘use’ of the small assets divide them into three categories: Retain, Consider for Shared Resources, and Reduce Fleet.
Once you have identified units that could be better utilized in a shared environment between operating customers, consider consolidating these units into a central rental center where the equipment can be reserved when truly needed and shared between customers in the agency.
In many cases it may be more fiscally responsible to rent the types of equipment that have been identified as underutilized from commercial sources. Be sure to have contracts in place for commercial rentals. Utilization balancing reduces fleet costs by balancing usage of all units within a specified class and within an annual time frame across the entire agency. Be sure to update your Utilization Policy to include these assets.
By: The Business Services Team
In part 2 of this Teambuilding series, we discussed that team players are essential to the success of the team. In this portion of the series, the focus is on Team Ownership. The Team Ownership that we are discussing is not the person who has the legal right/title to the team. It is the opportunity for ‘individual’ ownership that each of the team players has. There must also be ownership by the team – not just the ownership of the team.
Kevin Eikenberry writes” Commitment, engagement or buy-in – whatever you want to call – it’s a good thing. One sure-fire way to increase all those things is for people to feel ownership of something. When people feel ownership for problem solving, ownership of the ideas created in a meeting or ownership in their personal or organizational goals they are working towards greater success will occur.“ When people take ownership of anything, they take pride in it, share it with others, and have a passion for it.
For a team to be successful in any endeavor, the players have to own their roles, their contributions, and their involvement on the team. Each of us takes individual ‘ownership’ of our job responsibilities. We take responsibility for the necessary tasks it involves, we do the best we can, engage in it, show its importance, and contributes to the success of the overall team/organization because of it. Each position is owned by someone and each team ‘owner’ contributes to the entire team goal. Taking ownership of our role, whether we write specifications for the new equipment, order repair parts, prepare the budget, repair and maintain the equipment, supply the parts, build the vehicles, develop new technologies, provide administration and business management, or conduct studies; moves the team up in the success rankings.
Think of your favorite sports team, each player has a role and a responsibility to own that role and to contribute to the success of the team, each and every day. Not just for the championship. These team players have and display team ownership. They work at it, are loyal to it, and are proud of it.
We each have ownership on many teams. Every organization that we belong to, work for, volunteer for, or participate in any away with needs team players that will own their piece of the team. Our families, our friends, our sports teams, our jobs, and our associations and organizations will succeed because of us taking “ownership”.
By: Steve Kibler, Fleet Manager, City of Loveland (Colorado Chapter)
Each fleet manager or any manager for that matter has a unique style of leading his/her team. It’s kind of like the three bear’s beds, there are three categories: one is too soft, one is too hard and one is j-u-u-u-st right. The one that avoids or ignores problems is too soft. The autocratic one or the “off with their heads” one is too hard (but this style must be in your ammo box). The manager who earns his teams trust and respect through fairness and integrity turns out to be the just right leader. Which one are you? We are motivated to lead in many ways; through frustration with current leaders; through a will to “fix things” or an inherent need to improve how a service is provided.
My personal motivation comes from witnessing colleagues do it right and wanting to emulate that example of leadership within my own team. Another subtle motivation may be a catch phrase or sage quote by some famous person. I have some favorites I would like to share.
“Worry is interest paid on trouble that hasn’t happened yet” ~David Petersen
“A successful man is one who can lay a solid foundation with all the bricks others have thrown at him” ~David Brinkley
“Being defeated is temporary, giving up makes it permanent.” ~Marilyn von Savant
And my personal favorite:
“Be who you are and say what you feel ‘cause people who mind don’t matter, and people who matter don’t mind.” ~Theodor Suess Geisel (You probably know this author by another name: Dr. Suess)
There are many ways to lead your organization to success but there are exponentially more ways to fail and go backwards. How can you avoid this pitfall; always follow through with a plan until it is completed to your satisfaction or until it fails (the plan, NOT you). If you never fail, how can you or your team know what your limits are? We’ve all heard the saying “two heads are better than one.” Think how much better the dozen or so heads on your team are if you have created a culture of trust. Don’t be afraid to ask suggestions from your team about a challenging project. An unknown author said: “He who does the job knows the job best; trust the people you hired to do the job.” Trust your team to suggest strategies and/or obstacles you may not have anticipated. Then you must lead by decisively picking the direction the team will take and you must define to the team the goals along the journey. Here’s where follow through is so important. Don’t let the project die on the vine. If I may quote RMFMA member Craig Croner, City of Boise “Regularly inspect what you expect from your team.”
Each of us must find our own style of leading. My advice would be to regularly network with your team every chance you can. Attend every industry related conference, meeting, and/or training you can and glean whatever motivation you can steal from your colleagues. ‘Cause those that mind – don’t matter and those that matter – don’t mind.
I even composed a motivational saying of my very own:
“You can’t go through life with one foot on the brake; release your fear of failure; of not achieving excellence; be excited about life and release the brake!” ~Steve Kibler
The FleetPros Blog is written and moderated by the Business Manager with contributions from the membership and Business Services Team.