'TRAINING and development budgets were slashed in the early 1990s, middle management roles became more hands-on and businesses restructured to become leaner, meaner and fitter.
The net result of these developments is poorly-trained staff at all levels of business.
With company strategy now focused on process improvement, software development and general restructuring, the employee has once again been badly neglected. This includes the fleet decision-maker. These days the role actually encompasses a large responsibility that is far beyond the demands for which the job was traditionally designed.
The position used to include ensuring that company car policy was being implemented efficiently and that the right vehicles were provided to the right people. However, this role has slowly developed, as the company car has become a vital bargaining tool in encouraging the 'right' employees to join the business.
As choice has become a bigger factor in running the fleet, so the decision-maker has had to become more aware of human resources issues. The growth of car allowance schemes has added new demands for the skills needed to run a modern fleet.
Risk management and legal issues have also been added, along with demands to provide alternative transport, choose the best fuel for the job and even arrange second cars for wives and children.
As the weight of responsibility inexorably grows, so companies need to invest in recruiting high-quality employees, and providing them with the training and the personal development necessary. Just as importantly, companies also need to invest in developing the skills of the employees they already have in place.
Companies need to go back to basics, learn from what has happened in the past, listen to their fleet staff and understand their needs.
Let us not forget – people are the biggest asset a company has.
Firstly, a company needs to ask itself a few questions:
The company needs to understand where it wants to be in five to 10 years' time, and then work back from that point, particularly when planning how it will develop its fleet strategy. It needs to deploy the correct structure and be sure of its long-term strategy, fuelled by short-term initiatives.
Once this is understood, the employees' needs must be the first thing on the agenda. It has been proven that professionally-recruited, well-trained and sound development plans equate to consistently high performance, happier and more secure clients and ultimately, a bottom-line improvement.
If you are searching for a new employee to take on the fleet, or other areas of your business, your company needs to make the right impression.
If you want someone skilled enough to save you money, then in return you must offer a competitive salary, attractive benefit package, excellent working conditions and the opportunity for future development.
Your company must keep an up-to-date handle on the market, ie salary and benefit levels for your industry, as this will enable you to be competitive and aid in reviews with your staff.
It is vital to get all the processes in place, offer the best and fairest packages, develop and train your employees to the highest quality and give your clients the very best service available.
In a short space of time you will gain the reputation you want – 'a great company to work for'.'