Many fleet managers feel overwhelmed by the complexity of fleet management. But this doesn’t have to be the case; there are less stressful approaches to fleet management. Making decisions is overwhelming for those who don’t know what to do. I mean, let’s face it, if you were asked to fly a Boeing 737 without any previous experience, the thought alone is enough to give you a heart attack.

I mentioned in a tweet over a week ago the two categories of decision-makers who avoid consulting experts when it comes to managing their fleet:

  1. Unaware of their problem (don’t look; don’t see).
  2. We’re accustomed to (and comfortable with) suffering losses in the market.

As a fleet management consultant, I’ve seen businesses make countless decisions about their fleets. Some of these decisions have been great, while others have had disastrous consequences. However, the common thread in all these decisions is the need to strike a balance between various competing factors.

The caliber of your choices will dictate the kind of outcomes you experience in both your personal and professional lives. Although fleet management decision-making can be a complex process that involves considering various factors and weighing the pros and cons of each option.

Our brains are hardwired to embrace the status quo, according to neuroscientific research. We tend to resist change and prefer to stick to what we know, even if what we know is detrimental to our progress and no longer serves its purpose. This phenomenon is known as the “mere exposure effect.”

The mere exposure effect is a psychological phenomenon by which people tend to develop a preference for things or people that are more familiar to them than others. Countless studies have proven this phenomenon to be true. You’re not entirely to blame for this, though. When our ancestors were alive, people traveled and lived in packs. In ancient times, taking a risk could result in death.

Fast-forward to today. We are not in danger of dying if we are in unfamiliar places or do the unfamiliar, but our brains are still hard-wired to think that way. We have to make a conscious effort to remind ourselves that repeated exposure to something will increase familiarity and dispel any false notion of possible danger.

In the context of fleet management, this means that decision-makers are likely to stick with their current processes and solutions, even if there are better options available. It’s important to note that just because you choose to remain stagnant doesn’t mean the world wouldn’t move forward without you. Keep in mind that anything that isn’t growing is probably dying.

To overcome this bias, I encourage decision-makers to think outside the box and explore unconventional ideas. For example, instead of focusing on defensive driving fundamentals in driver safety training, businesses could also focus on defensive driving attitudes. Discovering how stress, anger, unreasonable expectations, and fatigue could help reduce the risk of accidents.

Another important aspect of the decision-making process is the need to consider the long-term impact of decisions. The reality is that many decision-makers are reactive rather than proactive. Too often, businesses make decisions based on short-term gains, without considering the long-term implications. For example, businesses may choose to defer vehicle maintenance to save costs in the short term, but this can lead to costly breakdowns and repairs down the line.

If you’re a decision-maker in your business, ask yourself if deferring important decisions has become habitual in your professional life. It may look harmless now, but in the long run, you are forming a habit of making serious losses. To avoid this pitfall, businesses should consider the total cost of ownership (TCO) when making fleet management decisions. TCO takes into account not just the initial purchase cost of a vehicle but also its maintenance, fuel, and repair costs over its entire lifespan. By considering TCO, businesses can make more informed decisions that balance short-term gains with long-term benefits.

I believe businesses need to incorporate into their decision-making process the use of data and analytics to drive decisions. Neuroscience has shown that humans are prone to cognitive biases that can cloud our judgment and lead to poor decisions. When you rely on data and analytics, you can remove some of these biases and make more objective decisions.

Data and analytics can also be used to identify trends and patterns in driver behavior, helping businesses identify areas for improvement and implement targeted training programs.

Decision-makers require a shift in mindset from traditional approaches. Decision-making doesn’t have to be as emotional as it is today. To make these changes, fleet managers need to be willing to embrace new technologies and ideas and experiment with different approaches. Also, there is nothing wrong with seeking help if you don’t know what to do. This isn’t high school, where you get penalized for asking for help.

A continuous growth mindset is necessary for a fleet manager to be successful in his role. Though it can be challenging, the rewards can be significant. By taking a proactive and innovative approach to fleet management, businesses can stay ahead of the curve and achieve long-term success.

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