How to Be A Successful Vehicle Fleet Manager
Every organization with a fleet of commercial vehicles has at least one person, the vehicle fleet manager, who ensures the fleet is running in a proper, cost-effective way. But fleet managers face a number of challenges. What does it take to be successful? In this article, we'll explain what a fleet manager does and which skill they need to find success.
What is a Vehicle Fleet Manager?
A vehicle fleet manager is the person in charge of the company's fleet of vehicles and drivers. Usually, the fleet managers are in charge of purchasing, maintenance, and replacement of fleet vehicles. They're also responsible for hiring and managing fleet drivers, analyzing fleet data, and managing the fleet budget. Vehicle fleet managers spend their day analyzing fleet data for better business performance, managing paperwork for fleet vehicles and drivers, overseeing the fleet's finances, and more. It's a big job.
To do their job well, vehicle fleet managers need to be skilled in leadership, communication, time management, and multi-tasking. Because fleet managers are always dealing with a wide range of important fleet tasks, they also have to be able to work well under pressure in order to stay on top of their busy workload.
There are multiple habits a vehicle fleet manager can have to be successful. Here are five habits every successful vehicle fleet manager has:
- Make safety your first priority.
- Understand that drivers are part of good vehicle maintenance.
- Measure what’s important.
- Improve communication.
- Embrace fleet management technology.
Make safety your first priority.
The safety of your drivers and other people on the road should always be a vehicle fleet manager's first priority. They're the most valuable asset you have, ethically, financially, and from a brand equity point of view. Fleets of any size naturally face a number of hazards and risks. Vehicle collisions can be caused by anything from speeding or distractions to unrested drivers or a lack of proper vehicle maintenance. This can lead to higher insurance premiums, legal fees, medical bills, and increased fleet vehicle repair costs.
It's important for fleet managers to make the safety of their fleet their first priority, know how to identify and prevent potential safety issues and risks the fleet drivers and maintenance crews may face and take actionable steps to prevent them.
Understand that drivers are part of good vehicle maintenance.
Part of a vehicle fleet manager's job description includes scheduling inspections of fleet vehicles and addressing regular maintenance needs when needed. While the scheduling and upkeep of some fleet vehicle maintenance tasks can be prescheduled or handled exclusively by the maintenance crew, it's ultimately up to the vehicle fleet manager to ensure all fleet vehicles are road-worthy and in good working condition.
A successful vehicle fleet manager knows their drivers are their eyes and ears — their first line of defense. The drivers are the ones operating the fleet vehicles on a regular basis, and they're usually the first to know if something is wrong with a particular fleet vehicle. To take advantage of this, a fleet manager should provide coaching and guidance to drivers to ensure they inspect their vehicle every time they drive it and report anything that might not be working properly. Drivers should be given vehicle inspection checklists, and maintenance crews should have vehicle maintenance checklists. Drivers should also understand how to drive responsibly in order to minimize wear and tear on their vehicles.
Measure what’s important.
As a vehicle fleet manager, data is your friend. It's a powerful tool that lets you track and analyze the operations of your fleet. It's important to make use of your fleet data if you want to measure how your fleet is performing and see which areas need improvement.
The best way to use data successfully is to start by identifying which areas of your fleet you want to improve and aligning them with the proper metric. For example, if your fleet fuel efficiency needs improvement, you'll want to track metrics like total miles driven per vehicle per year, the average cost per gallon of fuel, and total fuel cost per year. These metrics will give you a good idea of how your fleet is performing and, specifically, where the problem areas may be.
Being a good communicator is a valuable skill in any profession. Vehicle fleet managers are no different. To be successful, a vehicle fleet manager must be able to stay connected with fleet drivers when they’re on the road, communicate expectations to their team, and pitch their ideas for improving fleet operations to their directors.
Being a great communicator as a vehicle fleet manager starts with creating a detailed communication plan. This plan should detail how your drivers, maintenance crew, fleet managers, and directors communicate with each other. Having a fleet communications plan in place should provide clarity and improve efficiency in the fleet's operations. It's important to keep everyone in the loop, so the vehicle fleet manager should regularly schedule meetings to strengthen connections with fleet staff, answer any questions they may have, and build loyalty within the department.
Embrace fleet management technology.
Fleet technology is no longer a perk, it's an essential component of a vehicle fleet manager's toolkit. In fact, a recent study found that 64% of organizations find fleet management technology "very" or "extremely" beneficial to their company, and 86% of those organizations saw improved ROI within one year.
In order to be a successful vehicle fleet manager, it’s important to embrace new technology. That doesn’t mean you should snatch up every new gadget and piece of software that comes out, but staying current on what’s out there for your fleet to use and how it may benefit you.
Learn more about Derive VQ and how it can improve your fleet’s fuel efficiency.