Fleet Consulting: Types of Third-Party Reviews
By Marc Canton
When running a fleet, it can be easy to get caught up in the day-to-day and lose sight of larger issues at your shop — problems that can be impacting your productivity and budget. I get it – I spent years running a fleet at a university. This is where hiring a third-party fleet consultant can help. A fleet consultant can provide an outside perspective of what problems exist at your shop, and make recommendations on how to fix these. Over the next few weeks, I will explore how third-party consulting can benefit your operation. This week, let’s start with types of third-party reviews.
Obviously, not all third-party reviews fleet organizations experience are the same. Nonetheless, it may be helpful to consider the types of reviews commonly experienced and why they exist.
Inspections are typically the “pop quiz” of third-party reviews. There is usually no or little notice they are coming. This is because they are meant to ensure compliance with law, regulations, standards, etc. In the world of fleet, these typically are safety or environment-related and are usually punitive, not instructional. That is, a failed inspection will carry a fine or require some remedial action. Common examples include maintenance facility inspections such as OSHA and Fire Code Enforcement reviews, fuel site inspections from either federal, state, or local environmental protection agencies, and roadside Department of Transportation (DOT) inspections of vehicles that are 10,000 pounds or over. Remember, the goal of these is “to catch you in the act” so the only way to be prepared is to be diligent about your policies and procedures and to conduct similar inspections regularly as part of your operations.
An audit is a systematic assessment of specific practices, typically financial. The word ‘audit’ often instills fear into many professionals across a wide array of industries. This is because audits are usually associated with ensuring financial compliance, and therefore there can be serious repercussions if certain rules are not being followed properly. Ultimately, it is simply an official, detailed review of an organization’s accounts and documentation, and more often than not, results in recommendations for improvements or tweaks in policy and procedure associated with financial transactions. Formal audits are typically performed by an independent body, however internal audits have become commonplace with many organizations developing departments specifically for this purpose. These internal audits are meant as a checkup, that is, to find issues before they become a problem. On the other hand, external audits are meant to test and report publicly the quality and health of the audited organization.
Studies & Evaluations
Studies and evaluations are meant to be educational. The idea is to learn about the organization’s history, processes, practices, productivity tools, and relationships with other internal and external entities. The goal is to gain insight: What is working well? What isn’t working well? What does the data tell us? What can be done to make improvements or add value? What are the pressure points?
Decision-Support & Business Solutions
Decision Support and Business Solutions are assessments meant to address a known problem, issue, strategic goal or change. The ultimate goal of the assessment is to provide a solution: What is the best way forward? What are the options? The solution is aimed at minimizing impact on existing business, staff, etc., while maximizing positive outcomes. Implementation is always a key component, such that the subject organization is left with a turn-key result, and clear path forward.
This is just the beginning of introducing you to third-party fleet consulting. We’ll dive into more topics in the coming weeks. In the meantime, if you have questions, please reach out to me at MCanton@RTAFleet.com. If you’re interested in booking fleet consulting services at your operation, contact our Sales team at Sales@RTAFleet.com.
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