Driving Innovation in Fleet Management: Susan Miller’s Expert Insights

June 24th, 2024 | by Angela Simoes, Communications Director | Posted in: Insight on Things

As I sat down to interview Susan Miller for the Mile Marker podcast, I was struck by her extensive experience in the fleet industry. With over 36 years in fleet management, including 29 years at McDonald’s and more than seven at Geotab, Susan’s journey is nothing short of remarkable. Now an independent consultant, Susan helps fleet-based businesses across various industries implement strategic solutions, generate cost savings, and improve business practices.

Susan Miller joins the Mile Marker Podcast

Career Constants: Change and Growth

During our conversation, Susan reflected on her storied career. She recounted how she began in fleet management almost by accident. While working as an assistant to the treasurer at ServiceMaster Industries in the late seventies, she stumbled upon the fleet management industry. With the help of mentors and industry associations like the National Association of Fleet Administrators, she transitioned into roles at Keebler and, eventually, McDonald’s. At McDonald’s, she oversaw fleet operations during a period of significant technological and operational change.

Rapid Innovation, Enduring Values

Susan’s time at Geotab represented a leap into the world of telematics and advanced fleet management technology. She marveled at the rapid evolution of the industry even within her tenure there. “Even in those seven years,” she noted, “Geotab has grown and exploded with telematics and the use of technology. It’s phenomenal.”

Our discussion then shifted to the current state of fleet management and how businesses are approaching the future amidst constant change. Susan shared a piece of wisdom from her father: “Faces and names are going to change, but human nature will not.” This insight underpins much of Susan’s approach to fleet management. Despite technological advancements, the core challenges—such as convincing leadership of the importance of fleet investments—remain consistent.

We delved into the ongoing journey of digital transformation within the fleet industry. Susan emphasized that digital transformation is not just about digitizing paperwork but fundamentally changing business models. She observed that many businesses are still grappling with this concept. “People better buckle up if they haven’t already because if they thought things were changing fast before, it’s going to get even faster.”

Susan Miller talks about changes in the fleet industry

A significant part of our conversation focused on the human factor in fleet management. Susan highlighted the importance of training and developing both fleet managers and drivers. She stressed the need for a dedicated training group within organizations, distinct from traditional human resources. This group would focus on the psychology and well-being of employees, helping them adopt and adapt to new technologies and safety practices.

Safety remains a paramount concern in fleet management. Susan recounted the horrors of serious crashes and the impact they have on fleet managers. She believes that technology, such as telematics and in-cab monitoring, can play a crucial role in improving safety. However, the human element cannot be overlooked. Effective training and fostering a culture of safety are essential.

Embracing New Opportunity

As we wrapped up, Susan expressed optimism about the future of the fleet industry. She sees 2024 as a transformative year, with significant advancements in technology and business models. She urged fleet managers to remain open to change and to embrace new opportunities. “Don’t let past failures be a roadblock,” she advised. “Try it again. The planets have shifted. There are new people, and the systems are different.”

Susan’s insights and experiences offer a valuable perspective on the challenges and opportunities in fleet management. Her emphasis on the importance of both technological advancements and the human factor provides a balanced approach to navigating the ever-evolving landscape of the fleet industry.

Watch or listen to my conversation with Susan on the Mile Marker Podcast.

Author:
Angela Simoes, Communications Director

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