The Essential Roles of the Fleet Manager09 Jan 2019, Posted by General in
Commercial freight companies are responsible for the transportation of millions of pounds of goods each year. With the economy on the rise, the ability to transport freight in an organized and efficient manner is a growing challenge. How can companies ensure timely and effective deliveries with all of these moving pieces? The answer: quality fleet management.
What is a fleet manager? Perhaps a better question is, what isn’t a fleet manager? Fleet managers are highly-qualified individuals that have a variety of seemingly unrelated responsibilities. For instance, they’re are responsible for procuring commercial vehicles—trucks, automobiles, trailers, or other machinery—for their fleet, as well as hiring and managing qualified drivers. Additionally, fleet managers are responsible for ensuring their fleet vehicles are mechanically maintained, that deliveries remain on-schedule, and that the operation remains within budget.
So what exactly is a fleet manager? In short, they are financial professionals, project managers, mechanics, businessmen, and psychologists all in-one. In the U.S., the position is in high-demand, but the roles and responsibilities are highly-demanding. A successful fleet manager needs significant experience with operations, logistics, and software programs to monitor both fleets and drivers.
5 Essential Roles of the Fleet Manager
Procuring Vehicles: Fleet managers are in-charge of making important decisions regarding the addition of new fleet vehicles, such as:
- When to add new vehicles
- Which type of vehicles to add
- How the vehicles will be procured (bought, leased, etc.)
- How Many new vehicles are needed
Knowing exactly when to replace vehicles requires years of experience (namely, it requires the ability to estimate the lifecycle of any given piece of equipment based on its age, how it was used, and how well it was maintained). Additionally, the fleet manager decides when vehicles are no longer necessary for the fleet, and is responsible for the marketing and reselling of these machines.
Maintaining the Fleet: The fleet manager’s vehicles must be reliable, safe to operate, and mechanically sound. Typically, the manager won’t be the individual under-the-hood making the mechanical repairs. Some companies have in-house service centers with mechanics, while others outsource their repairs. However, the fleet manager must be able to identify mechanical issues before they become larger problems, and are usually responsible for creating maintenance schedules that optimize vehicle productivity and minimize unnecessary repairs or tune-ups.
Hiring and Managing Drivers: Drivers are truly the key to a profitable and efficiently-running operation. That being said, reliable drivers can be hard to come by, and a keen eye is needed to ensure that new-hires are qualified to operate such expensive equipment. Poor or disobedient drivers can be problematic, and—at the very least—cost the company financial penalties and poor-publicity. Most managers today install GPS systems into each of their fleet vehicles (partly to monitor their drivers, but also to protect against stolen equipment). Vehicle-tracking is another important component of fleet management. The implementation of location devices allows fleet managers to track the location, direction, and speed of their equipment in real-time. Specialized fleet management software is incredibly helpful with these tasks.
Handling the Financials: In addition to supervising vehicles and drivers, fleet managers are responsible for balancing their limited budgets as well. Minimizing costs while and increasing profits is central to any business. And like any keen business owner, fleet managers should be able to review expense reports, identify unnecessary expenditures, and conduct cost analyses. Although today, most of this can be handled by computer software, managers should have a solid understanding of cost-efficiency and how to maximize profits.
Record Keeping: Lastly, fleet managers must be good clerics, as they are responsible for clear and complete recordkeeping. Thorough records will help avoid some of the major legal troubles that all businesses are susceptible to. Likewise, managers must ensure that their fleet vehicles are registered, licensed, and periodically inspected in accordance to state and federal laws. Since these laws can vary depending on jurisdiction, it’s important to become familiar with the local and regional regulations, and perhaps contact a legal professional to ensure the business remains in-compliance.
The Bottom Line
A knowledgeable and experienced fleet manager plays a pivotal role in the transportation industry. The successful fleet manager is not just a logistical expert, but a businessman, mechanic, team-leader, and cleric as well. Without a doubt, the role is highly-demanding. And consequently, the position is in high-demand across the country.
From buying and selling vehicles to managing schedules, fleet managers ensure that deliveries are timely, equipment is operational, drivers are legitimate and disciplined, and that their operation is financially sustainable.