By Robert J. Hall
The fleet manager is a crucial part of the modern business. Companies in many industries, from service providers to landscapers, rely on vehicles to deliver products and services to customers. Those vehicles and their drivers must be properly managed.
Fleet managers can enjoy long and interesting careers, but they do require certain skills to thrive in their industries. Here are some of the skills that the best fleet managers possess that make them a good fit for the job.
1. Embracing Technology
Fleet management is a technology driven industry. A quality fleet manager is able to dig through the various technology offerings, find the one that best fits the needs and goals of his/her fleet and put it to the best possible use. Even small fleets are using fleet management technology to manage their vehicles and drivers better.
Fleet managers who do well are those who are able to use and understand technology, and then teach what they have learned about that technology to their team.
2. Being Adaptable
Fleets are always on the move and goals of the fleet are always changing. Even the technology available is constantly changing. Quality fleet managers are able to adapt and adjust as needed. Those who fight change do not last long in the field. In fact, a good fleet manager will be one who not only embraces change, but thrives on it.
3. Willing to Try Something New
What happens when a driver comes to a fleet manager and suggests a strategy for better vehicle routing to get to customers on time and limit wasted fuel? While the fleet manager is the “expert” in the house, that driver has on-the-field experience. Good fleet managers will have an open-minded approach and are willing to try something new, but tempered with the wisdom that comes from a true leader.
4. Leading a Team
Fleet management is about more than just monitoring routes and using data from fleet tracking systems to run the fleet more efficiently. Fleet managers are, at their heart, managers. They must be able to lead a team effectively in order to find success.
Effective leadership starts with being a team player. The best fleet managers are willing to get their hands dirty and do all of the jobs of the fleet. They also work to connect with their drivers, other management professionals in the company, and even the service providers who maintain your vehicles. By building relationships and working as a team player, fleet managers can unite their teams and strive toward a mutual goal of success.
5. Managing Time Effectively
From managing the time of deliveries and service calls to ensuring that maintenance is handled on a proper schedule, good time management and scheduling skills are critical. Consider, for instance, the need to stick to a proper schedule for preventative maintenance.
Fleet managers that properly schedule maintenance are able to limit down time. In fact, every hour spent on preventative maintenance saves between three and eight hours of repair time from a failure on the road. For the small-business fleet, keeping vehicles on the road is essential, and managing time efficiently to ensure preventative maintenance occurs must happen.
Fleet management is a diverse field where management skills, technology skills and even basic time management are essential. Those fleet managers who find the most success are able to tap into a diverse skill set, adapt to change and learn to thrive in a demanding industry and rewarding career.
Author bio: Robert J. Hall is President of Track Your Truck, a leader in fleet tracking systems and GPS tracking software for small to midsized companies.