Welcome to the fourth and final installment of our series looking at Fleet Management and the challenges that small- and mid-sized fleets face as a result of the ongoing health and economic crises caused by the coronavirus. In our first article, we talked about making sure that your business maintains a strong foundation for stability in response to challenges and agility in response to opportunities. Our second and third articles looked at human resources and equipment maintenance as pillars of that plan.
This article will talk about the importance of coming together as an industry in response to the challenges that COVID-19 has introduced into our lives. When we use the term industry, we think that it should be applied broadly—so that it includes not only trucking fleets but the vast network of support and cooperation that makes what we do possible. That includes truck and parts manufacturers, truck stops, service and repair partners, as well as trade groups and industry associations.
Our mission at FleetPal is to provide tools that allow small- and mid-sized fleets, and the service providers they depend on to keep the wheels turning, to work together more efficiently, effectively, and profitably. We know that technology alone cannot solve all of the problems that we’re facing. But we believe that responsive technology can be a tool that helps the industry solve those problems together.
Who “We” Are: The Trucking Industry’s Extended Family
Taking care of our teams has been at the forefront for most Fleet Managers for the past several months. Making sure that we do everything that we can to keep our people working if we can and keep them safe while they are is what we do. But taking care of our own doesn’t have to mean going it alone. Now more than ever we need to take a wider view so that we know what we can do to help and know where to look when we need help.
The ongoing protests in Washington, D.C. are an excellent example of what can happen when a lot of us work together to get something accomplished. But drawing attention to the problems that exist is just a starting point. Recovering from the economic turmoil that COVID-19 has caused the industry is going to take the whole industry working together in a sustained effort.
Traditionally, it has been the role of industry associations to listen to the needs of their members and distill that chorus into a unified position so that they can speak for the membership as a single voice when dealing with state and federal governments. The American Trucking Association is the largest and oldest trade association representing our industry. The ATA works with state-level trucking associations and other organizations that represent the interests of our industry. If your fleet isn’t already a member of state, regional, and national organizations—now is the time to get involved. Be an active member. The more support that you offer these organizations, the more that you’ll get back from their efforts.
There are a lot of examples in the news of towns, companies, and even some states stepping up to the plate to thank truckers and help trucking fleets. When we think of our networks, we usually start with customers and service providers that we do business with directly. But what we’ve seen in the past month or two proves that our industry’s role in keeping things moving and bringing the economy back around is appreciated by a much wider circle. Now is the time to seize on that positivity and either forge new relationships or strengthen existing ones. If it’s true that we’re going to get through this together then it’s worth noting that there is plenty that needs to be done and many hands will make light work.
Don’t Hunker Down—Huddle Up: Communication and Collaboration to Get Through COVID-19
Back before all of this got started, you probably thought of corporate communications and sales and marketing as the same thing. And you might have thought of networking as what you do at big conferences and trade shows. If you’re thinking that now is not a good time to be focused on marketing or networking the way we used to do them, you’re right. But that doesn’t mean that staying in touch with your network and offering service and value isn’t important right now. It just means that we need to shift our focus and approach a little bit to reflect the changes that we confront every day when we report to work.
Inc. magazine has argued that the strategies and tactics that we develop to deal with the crisis will define how we interact with our customers in the future. They focus on being proactive in ways that help to anticipate or identify client problems that we can help solve. They suggest reaching out to clients, asking questions, and collaborating in solution-oriented ways. They add that it is important to follow up with clients, even if it is just to check-in, and that your team should make note of lessons learned so that you can get better over time.
The Professional Convention Management Association published an article in Convene magazine that looked at how we should approach networking during the crisis. They noted that “networking is primarily about nurturing relationships” and advised readers to build a close network. We agree that it is important to take care of those who take care of you. The article went on to say that it’s okay to check in with your network for no reason at all and that there is no formula for doing it the right way. In addition to these pointers, it’s important to remember not to put too much pressure on yourself to try to do more than you can manage. The article ended by advising us to pay attention to who shows for the community right now and to proceed with care. It’s important to remember that everybody is dealing with stress right now and sometimes the most important thing that we can do for one another is to cut each other some slack.
In It for The Long Haul: FleetPal Is a Partner That Your Team Can Count On
Maybe it’s true that our industry has never faced a challenge like this one before. The one-two punch of a serious health crisis and the economic fallout from it leave us fighting a battle on multiple fronts. But the same things that we’ve always relied on to get the job done in the past will see us through these tough times. By taking care of our people, our equipment, and each other—the trucking industry has an opportunity to rise to the occasion and show customers and consumers what we’re made of. Getting it done will require us to work together on and across every level of the industry.
FleetPal Connect wasn’t designed with a crisis like this in mind. We set out to develop a tool that would connect individuals and teams within fleet organizations and connect fleets with service providers because we knew how important it was for small- and mid-sized fleets to have a network they could rely on. Now, more than ever, we’re committed to working with fleets to make sure they have what they need. Contact us to learn more about how we can help your team and your network.