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Training for the New Fleet Manager

Written by Bill DeRousse

You have just been assigned to Fleet Management and must be wondering what kind of training you should be seeking right away. I have been in the fleet business for over 40 years. This has provided me with some experience and insight as to what training is needed.

Let’s start with some common-sense knowledge that might help even the most knowledgeable fleet manager. The old saying that you will catch more bees with honey is true. It will go a long way to your success if you are respectful to the people you work with. I have seen knowledgeable fleet managers fail because of their poor attitude and how they speak to both their staff and their customers. This is in contrast to someone who knows only a little about running a fleet but treats everyone respectfully; and who has an attitude of wanting to learn. 

I am sure you have known a fleet manager who is on his/her fifth fleet job and has said that with every past job, he/she had not been treated fairly. Here is one of my favorite stories that illustrates this issue… 

A man is walking from one town to another and about halfway between the two towns, the man comes upon a wise man sitting on the side of the road. The traveler stops and asks the wise man, “How are the people in the next town?” The wise man asked the traveler, “How were the people in the town you just left?” The traveler said that they were mean and unpleasant to be around. To that, the wise man responded that the people in the next town were the same. 

An hour later another man traveling the same road stopped and asked the wise man the same question and the wise man gave the same answer, “How were the people in the town you just left?” The traveler said that the people in the previous town were very nice and very pleasant to be around. The wise man’s response was that the people in the next town were just as nice.

The point of this story is that a lot of how we feel about our particular situations is generated in our mind. Some people are nice and some are not, but if our attitude is to see more of the good in individuals, then we will generally have greater success in our lives. Most of the successful fleet managers you have met in your life are not successful because of their training or college degrees, they are successful because they care about the people around them and treat everyone respectfully. 

The next step to being a successful fleet manager is training. Hendon Media Group is in the process of developing a Police Fleet Manager training certification program. Training will be for fleet managers and members of their staff. Upon completion of this training, you will have greatly improved your knowledge in the following: developing budgets; parts and fuel management; equipment purchasing and disposal strategies; determining your staffing needs; safety and accident prevention; warranty recovery and environmental management to name a few. Until the Police Fleet certification program is completed, consider these recommendations.

The NAFA Fleet Management Association (www.nafa.org) certification program was developed for both the private fleet manager and public fleet manager. NAFA joined with other fleet organizations to develop a good training tool. This program is costly and will take a lot of time to complete but is worth the knowledge you will gain. The American Public Works Association (www.apwa.net) certification is geared toward municipal fleet managers. It is put together well and a good alternative.

The Coalition for Green Fleet Management (www.greenfleetcoalition.com) is a green fleet certification program, which will increase your knowledge and interest in green fleet sustainability. Clean Cities coalitions (www.clean-coalition.org or www.cleancities.energy.gov) across the U.S. have individual green fleet sustainability certification programs. Check with your local Clean Cities Coalition representative.

I believe we are successful by being respectful; understanding our mission goals and objectives; managing and understanding our financial responsibilities; and by increasing our fleet professional knowledge by investing in training and certification. My most timely advice? Attend one of the two Police Fleet Expo training conferences this year: Kansas City, Mo. in late-April or Louisville, Ky. in mid-August.

 

Bill DeRousse has been a fleet manager for 47 years with Private, Government and Public fleet operations. He has served as a Fleet Officer for the US Army, Fleet Superintendent for Darigold, Inc., and Fleet Superintendent for the City of Everett and Everett Transit. He is currently working with Hendon Media Group as the Managing Consultant for the Police Fleet Institute. He can be reached at bderousse@hendonpub.com. 


Published in Police Fleet Manager, Jan/Feb 2014

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