What I've Learnt: Fleet Hire's Nick Poole
Valuing the power of qualifications
One of the things we at Fleet Hire are passionate about is the development of our people. We use an array of training courses from a number of external organisations to help develop our people and give them the appropriate skill-sets for the jobs they do. The bodies we use include the BVRLA, the ICFM, ACFO and the Institute of Sales and Marketing Management, and we make sure that our people attend relevant courses that suit their job roles. That way they can all talk to each other in the same language, as well as recognising the key drivers in the fleet industry and developing a better understanding of what their clients actually need. This has proved very successful and has helped our people develop to the desired level of competency.
Benefits of a life coach
I’ve been in the fleet industry for the last 25 years in a variety of sales roles with two companies, Ryland Multifleet and Fleet Hire. One of the things I’ve found that has really worked for me in that time is the use of a mentor. This has proved very beneficial in helping me understand my own strengths and weaknesses, to work to them, and to look at myself in a completely different way. I’ve been doing this for the last five years with someone who is from outside the fleet industry but is very experienced in business; the fact that they are able to look at things in an external and objective way has proved enormously helpful.
Always employ the best people
This is one of our mantras – even if it means appointing someone you think might actually be better than you are! If they do well, then the business does well. This approach has served us well over the years and has actually led to some of our biggest business wins. We also try and match our staff to our customers and select the right person for the right opportunity to ensure that we, and they, get the most from it.
Let your people grow
Always listen to your people and don’t impose your own will on them. Let them develop their own ideas and run with them, although don’t be afraid to offer good quality input. Give them the space to grow and try not to employ ‘yes’ men or women. Too much micro-management and red tape can stifle creativity, so try and understand what your people are good at and let them develop and grow accordingly.
Keep quiet and listen to your customers
Business sales often involve a bit of ego and self assurance, but it’s important that you don’t let that get in the way of what your customers actually require. The best salespeople are those who don’t talk all the time but who really listen to their customers and understand fully what their requirements are. They put themselves in the minds of their customers and try and imagine what ‘good’ looks like from their perspective. For example, outsourcing typically looks different for each customer – if you ask them individually, they always have different answers. That’s why we always sell bespoke outsourcing services and never off-the-shelf packages: because every customer is different.
Maintain the right work-life balance
At Fleet Hire, we are a strong advocate of maintaining the correct work–life balance. While it is important to work hard, it’s also important to have a strong social and family side outside of work. It’s also important that there is a healthy, happy working environment. I’ve worked in places where there has been all stick and no carrot and these are very unpleasant places indeed. So it’s important to bring in the right people who make the right cultural fit and who can contribute to a good team spirit. We have a very low staff turnover so our people have all got to know each other, they know how each other works and they all get on well – key ingredients for a happy and successful business.