Being a fleet manager is exciting, challenging, stressful and fun all at the same time. During my 20-plus years as a fleet manager, I learned what it takes to be successful at my job. Sometimes I learned the hard way, but most of the time I learned by soaking up the advice and experiences of other fleet managers I networked with through the years.
I learned that to be a successful fleet manager you must have certain traits and skills that you need to continually hone and improve each and every day, or you will be left behind in this ever-changing industry.
Take a look at a few skills I learned over the years that kept me successful when managing Kern County’s (Cali.) fleet.
Ability to Multi-Task
To really be successful you must master this ability to multi-task. You must be able to see the entire operation as a whole and know how a small change in one area will affect others. You need to balance everything to make the fleet program work efficiently. When purchasing new vehicles, drivers want one thing, suppliers suggest something else, management has a variety of focus areas (fuel economy, safety, depreciation, image, etc.), and everyone is an expert about which manufacturer makes the best product. If you are not capable of multi-tasking and staying focused, your time as a fleet manager will be limited.
Goal-Oriented Fleet Management
You must set goals. The best fleet managers are goal-oriented in all aspects of fleet management. They employ metrics to continually benchmark productivity, vehicle downtime, fleet utilization, and effective management of both fixed and operating costs. The best fleet managers are committed to achieving specific results and govern their operations with these results in mind.
Adaptable to Change
The one thing I learned over the past 20 years is the only thing that is constant is change. I have seen fleet department staffs disappear, outsourcing become more prevalent, and procurement groups begin playing a greater role in fleet sourcing. Good fleet managers will adapt to the change. Great fleet managers thrive because of it and are willing to recommend change – even if it impacts them negatively. Fleet is ever-changing and the best fleet managers adapt to the change instead of fighting it.
As I was promoted up through the ranks, I noticed a manager was always creating charts that measured everything. I did not understand the importance of these measurements until I stepped into the fleet manager role. I quickly understood that what gets measured gets managed and holds myself and team members accountable. The best fleet managers are results-oriented and understand metrics. They drive for continuous improvement and for them, there is no such thing as the “status quo.”
Good Stewards of Corporate Money
Let’s face it – in today’s world of shrinking budgets the best fleet managers are creative in cutting costs and, somehow, someway succeed in maintaining the same level of service. You know the old saying – “Do more with less.”
Focused on the Internal Customer
The best fleet managers recognize their primary goal is serving the end-user departments and drivers. Their main objective is establishing a cooperative, working relationship with all internal departments associated with fleet operations, and to be proactive with their needs.
The best fleet managers understand that the managers and drivers they support are key to their success. They keep their sights set on the end-user and the board of directors, as well as everyone in between.
Fleet managers are the stewards of expensive assets and peoples' lives. They create a culture that stresses accountability and lead by example.
Enjoy What They Do
The best fleet managers find personal gratification in their job. They enjoy what they do. They are passionate about their job and responsibilities. Yes, we all wince and groan at “doing more with less” and constant new challenges, but at the end of the day, the satisfaction of doing your job well is something we never get tired of doing.
Fleet managers who are passionate about their work inspire others to take on new challenges and have the ability to pass these traits onto their staff. They will not only be successful fleet managers, but also have a successful fleet operation.
To learn how RTA can help you and your fleet succeed, reach out to our staff and schedule a demo.