By Matthew Betz, Vice President Business Development, Fleet at Motus, LLC
“Judge a man by his questions rather than his answers” – Voltaire
People who know me know that I ask a lot of questions. Don’t get me wrong, I also tend to offer my opinion pretty readily, and like to think that I’m ready with a good answer when somebody has a problem. But as a rule, I question things. I like to learn as much as I can about a situation, then develop what I think might be the best solution.
As fleet professionals, particularly those of us with more than a few years of experience – we sometimes feel like we are expected to have all the answers, all the time. After all, that’s what makes us feel like experts. And, in many areas, there’s probably nobody in your organization who knows more than you regarding fleet. In fact, in some cases, we are so knowledgeable that we sometimes jump to conclusions regarding the mobile workers that are driving our fleet vehicles. We’ve all been in conversations where at least one party is quick to accuse the drivers of not taking care of the fleet vehicle, under-reporting personal miles, not paying attention to policy, or possibly more dangerous infractions. We can sometimes be guilty of jumping to the answer without all of the facts or asking enough questions.
So, that brings me to my first question: How does it make you feel when others in your organization make decisions that impact your job without asking for your input? Or, better yet, how positive do you feel when someone asks what they can do to make your job easier, more productive, safer, or more effective? I realize that we can’t give drivers input into every decision. For instance, they may not have the knowledge or facts available to them to pick the most cost effective vehicles, or understand why certain repair facilities are better choices than other. But I contend that we can become even more expert by gaining insight from the people who use the tools that we provide.
Keeping in mind that for the most part we primarily provide vehicles so our mobile workers can do their job, doesn’t it make sense to ask them a few questions? Whenever I meet someone who drives a company car, I always try to ask about the experience, and am sometimes surprised by the insightful responses that I receive. While you will always remain the fleet expert, you may gain valuable insights into the daily struggles of your drivers through carefully crafted questions. After all, who knows better how to improve a tool than the person who uses it every day?
My last question is “How do we best go about gaining those valuable insights from our mobile workers?” In some companies it may be easy to schedule some one-on-one time with a number of drivers. But other fleets are so large that one-on-one discussions wouldn’t be practical. In these cases, I have heard of great results by forming driver councils. Much like the fleet advisory boards that we’re so familiar with, a smaller, well-respected representative group of drivers might provide incredible insights.
Whether you choose one-on-one conversations, surveys or a driver council, I hope you will take the time to question how we in fleet management can help. As always, I welcome your comments, questions, or concerns. I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.