Who shows up at an emergency scene in your community? The easy answer is police, fire, and EMS. If your fleet has public safety equipment, then fleet management also responds to the scene.
The same patrol car that you've invested "sweat equity" in, for more years than was originally intended, is on the scene during a tragic situation. The fire truck that you serviced last week is now rushing toward a horrific auto accident.
I'm a fleet manager of a small fleet, so I know it can be easy for customers to think of the "garage" as somewhere to get their oil changed. What isn't usually addressed is how few people do the service work on equipment. Typically, a small fleet will have fewer people performing more duties, and that requires a staff that understands the magnitude of their responsibilities.
The operator may give little thought to the professional people tasked with maintaining the emergency equipment and keeping it in a state of readiness. Even in the face of all the indifference, I like to make sure I'm promoting the right level of "ownership" to everyone in the fleet management department.
I try to emphasize the unique role of a fleet management employee with statements such as:
- "You will be the last one who touches this vehicle before it's involved in a high-speed pursuit."
- "You are the one who checked the brakes on the fire engine that's rushing toward a horrific auto accident on the highway."
- "You are the one who orders the correct parts."
- "You are the one who checked the service record and made sure all programs were up to date."
The next time you see your public safety equipment in action, think about your role on the team, and ask these two questions:
- "Is your fleet management team aware of their responsibilities?"
- "Are your public safety customers aware of your team's commitment?"
If you can answer yes — and answer without doubt — then you're on your way to a culture of fleet ownership. Fleet ownership leads to a higher professional image, and that's always a plus for a small fleet with big challenges.