7 Critical Lessons Fleet Leaders Learned in 2023

It’s that time of year when leaders reflect on the last 12 months to take stock of what went well, what they struggled with, and what they can take away to make the next year better. What lessons did fleet leaders learn in 2023?

We’ve been witnessing a major transformation in the fleet industry. Everything is changing—from sustainability strategies and resource planning to tech and data to culture and people. Here are seven big lessons we’re taking away from this year.

1. EVs Have Pros and Cons

EV adoption continued to gain ground and doesn’t appear to slow down anytime soon. McKinsey says as many as 34% of commercial fleets could adopt EVs by 2030, depending on some big unknowns like regulations. 

The business case for switching to electric vehicles is compelling. There are lots of reasons to make the transition, but saving money isn’t one of them. As data comes in from early adopters around costs related to EVs, it’s turning out to be more expensive than anticipated. Most technicians lack the training to work on electric engines, so maintenance costs and turnaround times are skyrocketing. And the lack of operational understanding as a whole is impacting overall efficiency.  

If you’ve been mandated to switch to EVs in the next three, five, or whatever number of years, follow some advice from the field to make sure the benefits outweigh the costs for your fleet.

2. There’s a Lot More to Sustainability than Just EVs

EVs shouldn’t be the only play in your sustainability strategy. There’s more than one way to reach your decarbonization goals. A proactive replacement plan can go a long way. After all, new vehicles often mean greener vehicles, even when they aren’t electric. 

Fleet leaders need to consider other ways to reduce waste and reuse resources. The Department of Energy shares some best practices that should be part of your approach to building a greener fleet. One of the most important things on this list is reducing fuel consumption, which is a bigger topic than just a checkmark in your sustainability initiatives. 

3. Fleets Must Get Better at Reducing Fuel Consumption

Even though the price of fuel came down in 2023 compared to the record highs of 2022, fuel costs continue to be a big concern for fleet operators. If resource efficiency is one of your goals, controlling fuel costs should be top of mind.

Strategies to reduce fuel consumption include:

  • Maintaining a well-oiled preventive maintenance program
  • Rightsizing your fleet based on your organization’s and community’s needs
  • Ensuring your replacement plan looks far enough into the future
  • Teaching more fuel-efficient driving behaviors
  • Using your FMIS to monitor and reduce fuel consumption

4. Technology Can Solve Many Fleet Challenges

FMIS software has played a key role in fleet management for the last couple of decades. Top fleet organizations are going well beyond the capabilities of an FMIS to embrace innovative new solutions. 2023 has brought advancements in telematics, early adoption of AI, implementation of IoT devices, and even instances of drones taking over the industry

If you’re on a mission to optimize your fleet operations, be sure you’re thinking through your technology roadmap. 

5. Your Fleet Better Have a Data Strategy

We’ve talked a lot about data this year—why it’s important, what to track, and how to use data to improve efficiency, effectiveness, and performance. 

One of the biggest challenges fleets have when it comes to their data strategies is that they simply don’t have the in-house expertise to leverage this powerful resource. Many fleets could benefit from hiring a data analyst. 

If you need to wrap your arms around building a better data strategy, check out this episode of The Fleet Success Show—Episode 107: Benefits of a Fleet Data Analyst.

6. Fleets Can’t Underestimate the Importance of Culture

Even though the term “assets” is typically synonymous with “vehicles” our greatest asset is our people. This isn’t some cliche. Creating a strong, healthy, intentional culture is one of the four pillars of fleet success

Half of all fleets are dealing with labor shortages. 80% of techs say they’ve thought about quitting. Their four biggest reasons are:

  • low compensation
  • poor working conditions
  • lack of professional development
  • not feeling respected

This last part is a reminder of how important it is to recognize and celebrate the leaders in your fleet.

If you’re ready to take an honest assessment of your culture, here are a few candid resources to help:   

7. The Path to Fleet Leadership is Shifting

Most folks in fleet leadership used to have one thing in common—they worked their way up in the ranks from the shop floor. Over the past few years, this has started to change

Many of the fleet managers stepping into their roles today didn’t grow up in a shop. They’re moving over from business, finance, and analytical roles in adjacent industries and bringing their expertise with them. 

This shift is driven by the need for new skill sets. It’s both exciting (when we think about how it’s shaping the future of fleet) and uncomfortable (for the veteran fleet leaders who grew up in this industry and are used to being surrounded by fellow mechanics). 

Stay on Top of What Lies Ahead for Fleets 

As you head into next year and prepare to steer your organization on the road to fleet success, bookmark these valuable resources:

  • The Fleet Success Show: A podcast dedicated to talking about the fundamentals, standards, and best practices that empower today’s fleets to achieve fleet success.
  • The Four Pillars of Fleet Success: A proven framework to create a solid foundation for success and ensure that your fleet operates at peak performance.
  • The RTA Blog: Practical tips and insights to help you operate, optimize, and analyze your fleet.  


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