Anonymous Public Fleet Manager

Micromanaging Fleet Operations

February 11, 2014

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In the past few weeks, several veteran fleet managers have vented to me, voicing frustration with their directors’ micromanaging fleet operations. These professionals have years of experience and training and run well-recognized fleets. Some of these requests and orders run contrary to best fleet practices and may be politically motivated.

In one instance, after a fleet manager completed a detailed utilization study, the director still insisted on replacing under-utilized equipment. The fleet manager tried to explain that it would be more cost-efficient to rent the equipment as needed, when special projects arise. The director felt that the city should own all necessary equipment to maintain city properties, despite the utilization study extracted from the fleet management information system.

In another instance, a fleet manager was requested to provide input in the building of a new Public Works facility. The fleet manager spent time documenting the square footage and equipment needs for the fleet garage portion of the new building. When the final plans were returned for review, 50% of the fleet manager’s recommendations were deemed unnecessary and removed, without opportunity for the fleet manager to justify need.

Every municipality likes to keep their Police and Fire Departments happy, right? What about when the director sides with the Police/Fire requests for political reasons, in spite of the fleet manager’s recommendations and fleet best practices? In this instance, the fleet manager was left to deal with the budget expense and other consequences of this decision.

Directors need to let the experts run their fleet operations, unencumbered by second guessing, which wastes valuable time and operational funds.

In the previously mentioned cases, several of the fleet managers are contemplating changing jobs due to their frustration.

Is this happening to you?

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  1. 1. Allen Mitchell [ March 12, 2014 @ 05:40PM ]

    I have experienced some ambivalence on the part of top management, but not to the extent that is being described in the initial article. I suspect that some of this is due to a lack of trust in the fleet manager. This may well be a failure to establish credibility and trust within the organization and especially with the fleet manager's direct supervisor. Another impediment may be insufficient policies/procedures that stipulate the authority of the fleet manager.

    One suggestion is the fleet manager needs to formulate partnerships with key fleet customers and the Finance Dept. also frequently communicate fleet metrics, cost reductions and successes to management

  2. 2. Jim Wright [ March 17, 2014 @ 11:58AM ]

    As a consultant I see this 30% of the time. Often it is a power strugle. If you have fleet under you, then you have more responsabilities and therefore more pay. In some cases I have recommended making fleet it's own department. Reporting to the city / county manager. In other cases we recommmend moving fleet out of one departmenet and to another more responsabile department that has the agencies best interest in mind. I also recommend implementing best practices in the form of policies.
    If all else failes perform a benchmarking analysis to help justify implementing a new management approach.
    Remember this. Most agencies senior management staff still think of fleet as a dirty garage that is a high cost problem that is necessary to perform their respective services.
    AND, let them know what you are doing. Openly brage about sucess stories. Let your customer departments know how much you saved them last year.
    Fleet operations are misunderstood. If they (senior management), don't know what you are doing or your needs, then you are always suspect.

  3. 3. Mike Webster [ April 16, 2014 @ 01:36PM ]

    This has happened several times in my career and caused me to change organizations because of it. You can only beat your head against the wall so many times before you have to either give up trying or move on. I chose the latter. When my integrity and reputation is on the line from decisions made against my recommendations it is time to move on. Fortunately, when I have moved on it has been to organizations that need and appreciate my experience and expertise. In the public sector the tide can change with every election so it is always a good idea for Fleet Managers to keep their options open and know what other opportunities might be out there. There are always agencies out there that appreciate our expertise and want to reach that next level.

  4. 4. Robert [ July 02, 2014 @ 08:27AM ]

    I just wanted to write and thank you for your candid view points. I write the blogs for a GPS fleet tracking provider named Virtual Fleet Supervisor and many of the issues you write about and discuss are fodder for discussion among the fleet managers we work with. Just wanted to thank you and tell you to keep up the good work.


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Author Bio

Anonymous Author

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Public Fleet Manager

The anonymous public fleet manager is a current working fleet manager who oversees a public fleet in the U.S. He writes about controversial and stimulating topics and expresses candid opinions about some of the challenges and demands of running a fleet operation day-to-day, as well as topics that affect the industry. More than one author can contribute under the "anonymous" name, leading to a diversity of voices and opinions.


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