Behind every well-run fleet is an effective fleet manager. The value of this position should not be underestimated. A great fleet manager can potentially save a company millions. This is why fleet managers should be viewed as a critical revenue-generation component of any company's business plan. Yet, what kind of person makes an effective manager?
The role requires a unique combination of leadership skills, strategic thinking and business knowledge.
Let's look at ten highly effective traits of a successful fleet manager:
1. Strategic Planner
Strategic fleet management is essential to keeping costs low and productivity high. A well-constructed and executed plan will seek to optimize all aspects of the supply chain and use metrics to benchmark progress. From vehicle acquisition and replacement planning to driver training and supplier selection, a fleet manager will need to make high-level strategic decisions.
Think it's hard to keep multiple balls in the air? How about keeping a hundred vehicles on track? Fleet management is all about effectively multi-tasking; making sure drivers comply with all regulations, suppliers are offering the best pricing, routes are determined in the most cost efficient manner, and vehicles are maintained and at the right place at the right time. And don't forget about satisfying internal customers and presenting to upper management.
A fleet manager may manage a multi-million dollar company asset and with that power comes the responsibly to always look for a better way to do things. Is the company using the right suppliers, are the vehicles up to par, or is there new technology that would drive down overall costs? Constantly asking these questions and seeking solutions to problems that senior management didn't even know existed makes the fleet more efficient and the manager more valuable.
4. Good Communicator
Communication is the cornerstone of any successful fleet. With a good communicator at the helm, drivers, suppliers, and executives are all on the same page in terms of current progress and future goals.
5. Goal-Oriented and Metric-Driven
Being a fleet manager is a highly metric-driven role. Top managers are always looking at the numbers to see if there is a way to improve a key element to make the fleet more cost effective.
6. Ability to Manage Up
No matter how good a fleet manager is, if he or she isn't good at letting senior management know what's going on it can cause problems for everyone. An effective fleet manager keeps senior management informed on fleet performance, new regulations, budget requirements, and new products.
7. Team Player
Even the best fleet manager can't do it alone. From drivers and suppliers to upper management and other internal customers, a good fleet manager is constantly working with everyone involved to optimize performance.
8. Effective Networker
It's all about who you know...and this is true in fleet management as well. Successful managers take advantage of networking opportunities by participating in fleet industry organizations, networking with industry peers and suppliers, and attending national fleet meetings.
9. Ability to Implement Effective Policies
The ability to design and implement effective policies is an important trait of successful fleet managers. Strategic policies that have buy-in throughout the chain from drivers to executives can control costs and dramatically affect a company's bottom line. For example, a fleet manager who reduces annual fleet expenses by just $50,000 generates the equivalent of $500,000 in sales if a company operates at a 10% net profit margin.
10. Forward Thinker
Long-term planning is one of the keys to successful fleet management. In addition to producing both fleet and departmental budgets each year, good fleet managers develop innovative strategies to cut costs and improve processes.