Have you ever had a problem at work follow you home after a long day?
Running a fleet can be a daunting task, with an inconceivable number of issues able to halt an entire operation. One concern that could be keeping your customers awake at night is money. Maintaining a positive cash flow is fundamental for any business. However, for fleet managers, a positive operating budget is a key metric for success.
Fleet professionals have not forgotten the financial challenges faced in recent years, prompting them to implement leaner practices for controlling budgets and operating costs.
Coming up with viable solutions is significant to any strategic customer partnership. First, it’s important to identify each customer’s unique characteristics. Fleets and businesses are continuing to evolve and grow, and millennials are entering the workforce with new procurement and operating strategies.
Keep in mind, you may not be working with a one-stop-shop fleet manager. You may be dealing with a purchasing or sourcing professional who may or may not have fleet experience. For this reason, it’s crucial to get acquainted with your customers and their position within an organization, be proactive and manage expectations.
Understand your customer
Fleet processes have developed over the course of time. Purchasing roles for some organizations have extended beyond traditional fleet managers and are handled instead by a sourcing or purchasing department or a fleet management company. Understanding specific customer roles can strengthen business partnerships.
In addition, be aware of end-user vehicle and equipment requirements. Someone in a sourcing or purchasing department may not have the necessary training to recognize all relevant aspects surrounding complex work vehicles. Being preemptive and asking the right questions enables you to better serve customers and supply the best return on investment. This could be as simple as working with them on specification development or as complex as presenting value-added features which could increase productivity and reduce overall life-cycle costs.
Define customer expectations
Ultimately, the foundation for building solid customer relationships is delivering a quality product on time at the lowest cost. However, it’s important to go even deeper, addressing the different expectations of the next generation. Technology is changing rapidly. In fact, computer speed supposedly doubles every 12 to 15 months. To thrive in the current business climate, your organization needs to keep up with the times.
Even the concept of communication has changed dramatically. Arrangements previously handled with lunch and a handshake are now being conducted by video conference and email. Given the many hats fleet professionals wear and the complexities they face, it’s important to get familiar with their concerns and stay on top of the latest innovations so you can effectively meet their needs.
If you have any questions on fleet-related matters, contact Christopher Lyon at 248-479-8196 or [email protected].