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March 2010

World-Class Private Fleets

Each month NPTC President and CEO Gary Petty writes a column in Fleet Owner magazine that focuses on the individuals, companies, best practices, and resources that make private trucking the force that it is in the American economy. Reaching more than 100,000 subscribers, three-quarters of whom are private fleet professionals, this column provides an excellent forum to communicate the value of the private fleet. Click here to view the archive.

Gary Petty | | Private Fleet Editor for FleetOwner Magazine
Gary Petty has more than 30 years of experience as CEO of national trade associations in the trucking industry. He has been the president and CEO of the National Private Truck Council since 2001.

World-Class Private Fleets

After assisting several private fleets this past month through the new Private Fleet Assessment Program (PFAP), Optima Associates reports that the resource continues to elevate private fleet performance. Of those private fleets that have completed the assessment, most discovered opportunities for improvement in their operations and safety programs. During these challenging economic times, it has never been more important to enhance performance and productivity.

The PFAP, introduced last year, is a collaborative effort among NPTC, Optima and Schneider National. It evaluates a private carrier in eight critical pillars or business functions: strategic planning and safety, network planning, fleet management, customer management, driver management, information management, continuous improvement, and finance management.

The fleets conducting this assessment have established a definite relationship between all attributes. For example, if a private fleet increases the utilization of trucks, it will negatively affect driver relations, or if the upper management corporate strategy changes, there will no doubt be a need to modify the policies and procedures. The private fleet assessment model factors in these relationships during the scoring process and even gives the client the ability to visually see what effect a shift in one may have on another.

There have been several exciting revelations during the first few assessments.

  • True cost realization

    A few carriers have realized for the first time what their fleet has been costing them. In a private fleet, these costs may have been assumed by the corporation in the past and never allocated to the fleet operations. Knowing all transportation-associated costs is critical to beginning the cost management process.

  • A closer look at safety

    No carrier can ever hope to reach the elusive goal of “world-class” until they have first established solid DOT compliance and workplace safety programs.

  • Need for strategic planning

    This refers to how upper management wants to run its business and what goals it hopes to accomplish. All performance standards from which employees’ performance can be judged originate from these expectations.

  • Advanced network optimization

    Many carriers seem to be locked into historical network planning procedures and are missing the advantages of longer-term capacity and demand balancing.

  • Equipment and maintenance opportunities

    Maintenance costs and procedures have proven to be where most of the immediate cost savings can be realized.

  • Customer service definitions

    Even though most private carriers state that customer service is one of the most important justifications for operating their own fleet, most could enhance the number of quantitative and qualitative standards by which they measure service levels.

This fleet assessment can identify opportunities for immediate cost savings. Longer term, it is feasible that a carrier could reinvent its operation into a lean, efficient, world-class organization.

If you would like to learn more about the Private Fleet Assessment Program, which is free to all NPTC members, please visit our web site at

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