Fleet management is all about putting predictable processes in place so that if an unexpected issue comes up, you always have the spare time and attention you need to fix it.
So, what are the habits of a successful fleet manager that make the right processes possible? What do you need to do like clockwork so that you’re always ready for the unexpected?
What does a fleet manager do?
Fleet managers work for organizations that rely on commercial vehicles to function. Their role is to oversee the fleet to make it as safe, productive, and cost-effective as possible. The responsibilities of a fleet manager include everything from hiring and firing drivers and maintenance techs to choosing the best vehicles to buy and analyzing data to improve overall fleet performance.
What makes a good fleet manager?
First, it’s worth thinking about the qualifications you’re likely to need to get your foot in the door. Although an associate degree is a minimum requirement to become a fleet manager, most companies typically prefer that you have a bachelor’s degree in a subject like logistics, accounting, automotive technology, or public administration.
If you don’t take that route, you can also enter the profession through an internship or an entry-level position, which can provide you with the experience you need to better understand the industry before moving up to fleet manager. Some sought-after and widely recognized certificates can also improve your chances, including:
- NAFA Fleet Management Association Certified Automotive Fleet Manager (CAFM)
- American Public Works Association Certified Public Fleet Professional (CPFP)
You’re also going to need a commercial driver’s license.
Leadership is an important skill for fleet managers as you have to run the fleet, be a mentor, and provide guidance to your drivers, mechanics, and office teams. Problem-solving and critical thinking are also important so you can identify problems and find the best solutions quickly.
Effective communication skills, both written and verbal, are another important trait of successful fleet managers. You have to communicate and enforce safety procedures, driver regulations, and vehicle maintenance practices to the team. You should also have good technical skills, including the ability to use fleet management software, so you can streamline your operations and gain a competitive advantage.
How can you become a better fleet manager?
There are several habits that successful fleet managers develop and then rely on to get the most out of their time and effort, and then as a result, their fleet.
Make safety the priority
Fleets of every size face all sorts of risks and hazards, so you should always try to identify and get ahead of potential safety issues. There are several tools, such as driver behavior monitoring apps and fleet management software, that can help you keep your drivers safe and your vehicles on the road.
By learning how to anticipate and mitigate the inherent risks your fleet drivers and maintenance teams face, you can prevent accidents and avoid inflated vehicle repair costs, medical bills, insurance premiums, and legal fees.
Understand that good maintenance starts with your drivers
As the fleet manager, it’s your job to schedule inspections and maintenance accordingly, but as the first line of defense, you should also make sure that your drivers understand their vehicle maintenance responsibilities. You should provide training and guidance, so they know how to drive carefully and compliantly to reduce the likelihood of an accident. Driver coaching is an effective way to develop self-awareness and driver responsibility.
If you’re not sure where to start, consider creating a safety awards program and other incentives that reward drivers who take an active role in their vehicle’s management. Recognition goes a long way in any industry and acknowledging their efforts can increase engagement.
Measure the things that matter
The only way you can see where you need to make improvements and whether the changes you make are successful is to track data and measure everything that matters.
The first step is to decide what you want to improve and align it with the right metric. For example, if you want to improve your efficiency then cost per kilometer, fleet availability rate, and vehicle utilization are important metrics to track. If you’re more worried about your maintenance operation, track vehicle breakdowns, maintenance downtime, and total cost of vehicle ownership.
Data is powerful but the last thing you want is to have loads of data and no idea what to do with it. As well as tracking the data, you must spend time analyzing it and learning to understand what it means for your operation. Only then can you use it to identify and solve problems in your fleet.
Embrace new technology
One of the most important habits of successful fleet managers is learning to embrace new technology rather than seeing it as a threat. That doesn’t mean signing up to every new tool that comes along, but you should at least have an understanding of what’s out there and what it does.
Research has found that 64% of organizations that use fleet management technology find it ‘very’ or ‘extremely’ beneficial to their business, with 86% and 44% witnessing ROI within a year or six months respectively. With over 72% of fleet managers now using GPS fleet tracking software alone to support their day-to-day operations, fleet technology is becoming essential rather than a nice to have.
Be a great communicator
With so many different stakeholders, your ability to communicate effectively at all levels is crucial to the success of your fleet. You have to be able to communicate your expectations with your team, stay connected with your drivers while they’re out on the road, and sell your strategy to get the green light on new initiatives from the business owners.
Creating a detailed communication plan which sets out how, when, and where people (drivers, maintenance teams, fleet managers, and senior executives) can communicate with each other can improve the clarity and efficiency of your fleet operation. Keeping everyone in the loop with vehicle maintenance checklists and policy changes and scheduling regular meetings to answer any questions can build connections and encourage loyalty among your team.
How can fleet management software help?
Good fleet management software like ManagerPlus® can help you form the habits of a successful fleet manager. It gives you control over every aspect of your fleet maintenance management, from providing drivers and service technicians with step-by-step instructions to managing inventory levels, collecting real-time driver vehicle inspection reports, and calculating the total cost of ownership.
You can track, analyze, and improve your operations and stay closely connected to everyone on the team, while the mobile app means you can communicate with your drivers and techs no matter how far apart you are.
You also have complete visibility of your maintenance operations. ManagerPlus can tell what work is being performed on which vehicle and by who, all from one dashboard. It also provides instant updates when any changes are made so you can keep your drivers safe and your vehicles on the road.
To find out how ManagerPlus can help you reach your goals, schedule a demo of ManagerPlus Lightning today.
At its heart, fleet management is all about putting the right processes in place and making them habitual. You can then focus your time and attention on the hiccups and roadblocks that lie in wait.
Best practice fleet manager habits include making safety a priority, embracing new technology, understanding that good technology starts with your drivers, and measuring the things that matter. You should also create a communication plan that sets out how, when, and where you plan to communicate with drivers, maintenance teams, and senior executives.
Good fleet management software like ManagerPlus® can help you form the habits of a successful fleet manager. It enables you to track, analyze, and improve your operations and stay connected with everyone on the team.