In the movie “The Big Short”, there’s this scene where Christian Bale’s character Michael Burry is talking about the housing bubble that he believes is about to burst in the United States and around the world. (Where were you in 2008?)
When confronted with opposition to that idea because “things don’t look bad right now” he responded with some cold, hard truth:
“No one can see a bubble. That’s what makes it a bubble.”
The World Of Fleet Is In A Bubble
Now don’t get me wrong -- we’re not saying you should pull out your life savings and move to a cabin in Montana.
Jokes aside, we believe (and the evidence strongly shows) that the world of fleet is dealing with a complex and unique set of challenges that must be overcome for your fleet to succeed in 2022.
Of course, there’s always the usual suspects:
- - “Budgets are tight”
- - “Margins are razor thin”
- - “There’s not enough time to get everything done”
Those are nothing new and we’re not confident that they’ll ever go away, at least not entirely.
We’ve been observing other much more concerning issues:
- Fleet managers feeling unfulfilled at work -- spending more time in the office than they do at home with their kids, all while wondering if they’ll get chopped next.
- - A vacuum of talent as fleet professionals retire, taking their knowledge and expertise with them.
- - A growing trend where fleets are seen more as cost centers than essential functions of an organization.
- - Lack of clarity regarding what a successful fleet even looks like. How do we know? What do we do?
- - A cacophony of noise around subjects like electrification, sustainability, and regulation.
Not to mention the tsunami of issues the past 18 months have brought with them, including employee retention issues, wild fluctuation in the price of goods and fuel, chip shortages, supply chain issues, and a global pandemic.
You starting to get a sense of the size of the bubble we’re in?
Who Are We To Tell You What To Do?
With all humility, there’s a strong chance that we’ve been in the world of fleet longer than you’ve been alive -- we’ve been helping fleets succeed since Jimmy Carter was in the White House. We’ve seen what works and what doesn’t. And our unique perspective as an FMIS company literally built by fleet managers has given us some insight into what you can do to solve today’s challenges going into 2022.
That’s why we’ve drawn a line in the sand to define what Fleet Success means and to build the playbook for you to get there. You can learn more about what exactly Fleet Success is by checking out our weekly podcast, The Fleet Success Show.
(Psst… A book we’ve written and a never-before-seen 2-day summit are also coming soon.)
Setting Up Your Fleet For Success in 2022
So what do you do?
Success at your fleet in 2022 and beyond is going to require a lot of you, but to keep things brief, let’s focus on three quick wins you can implement to set your fleet up for success next year.
Quick Win #1: Get a Bird’s Eye View
As Jeff mentions in a recent podcast episode, now’s a great time to take a step back from the day-to-day and get a 360-degree view of your operation. Analyze processes and find ways they can be optimized. Walk the shop with your people. Speak with those who depend on the job you do. Ask questions like “If you were in my shoes, what would you do to help us achieve our goals?” or “What’s a challenge you deal with often?”
This exercise will do a few things. First of all, it’ll show your team you care -- that they matter and that you are aware that your job is to help them be successful. It’ll also show where the weak links in processes are. Is your parts room a gigantic mess making it hard to find what you need when you need it? Organize it. Is your operation dependent on loose stacks of paper floating all over the office? Implement an FMIS to help keep things on track.
Quick Win #2: The Best Offense Is a Good Defense
You're never wasting your time as a fleet manager when you spend time thinking about what you can do today to prevent a problem from occurring tomorrow. That’s why preventative maintenance is better than reactive maintenance. But with this quick win, we’re talking about other areas of risk management. As we go into the new year, take a look at your fleet’s risk position by evaluating your insurance coverage, warranty amounts and determining your needs for things like GPS tracking, onboard cameras, and other theft/incident management technologies. If you’re not in the trucking space, you may consider implementing a trucking best practice - DVIRs (Driver’s Vehicle Inspection Report) - at your fleet. More on this here in this podcast episode.
As my grandma always said, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”
Quick Win #3: Build an Intentional Culture
Perhaps not something you’d think would belong on a list like this, but we feel this one might just be the most important. To be fair, this one might not be “quick” but we do think that the fleets that win in 2022 will be the ones who take this seriously.
What are your fleet operation’s mission, vision, and core values? Because these are what shape and mold your culture, developing these are a great place to start. As you do, remember that your core values are not aspirational values -- things you aspire to be one day. They are values that are true to who you are today and they’ll become the guardrails you use to protect your culture.
As part of this endeavor, you may also consider implementing one-on-one meetings with team members at each level of the organization. This helps you keep an ear to the ground of what’s working, what’s not, and how your people feel when they come to work each day, empowering you - as their leader - to help them the best way you know how.
To you and your fleet’s success in 2022! If we can help, whether you are an RTA customer or not, remember we’re just a call (800-279-0549) or a click away.
About the Author: James Ricks is RTA's marketing and Fleet Success category wizard. He lives in the Phoenix suburbs with his wife and three daughters.