Fleet News

Fleet management: Fleet experience must be valued

Geoffrey Bray

Fleet today appears to be overrun by so-called ‘experts’ giving opinions in a sector in which they have little or no practical knowledge or experience.

Whatever sector people work in they need to have graduated from ‘the university of life’ in which they have got their hands dirty and truly understand every aspect of the segment.

The nuances, the ‘what if’ scenarios, the unintended consequences of taking an action and the impact that will have can only be gained with experience.

Yet, too often we hear ‘experts’ espousing views on aspects of fleet when they have no knowledge of the day-to-day workings of one.

I have worked in the fleet industry for almost 50 years and my views have been shaped by getting my hands dirty and by taking on board the comments of other people that spend their days running fleet operations.

That’s not to say that the views of experts in other fields – perhaps vehicle-related taxation, funding or maintenance – should be ignored.

However, they should not be swallowed whole. Instead, they should be taken on board, weighed up and balanced against current policies and procedures and discussed with current suppliers and peers.

Unfortunately, too many businesses give part-time employees fleet responsibility in a fashion similar to when an individual may be responsible for buying the stationery.

These businesses would not consider employing an unqualified accountant so why would they consider putting an employee in charge of typically the second biggest area of a company’s expenditure – fleet – when they have neither the relevant knowledge nor experience?

What that trend has done is give licence to the ‘experts’ to disseminate their own version of knowledge which is often garnered from a single viewpoint – almost certainly that of the organisation they represent.

It is a worrying trend and one that today’s professional and experienced fleet managers must stand up to by encouraging the younger generation that vehicle management is a hugely rewarding career delivering huge benefits to businesses.

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