How to Become a Successful Fleet Manager: A Step by Step Guide

Have you been tasked with managing employees who drive for your company? Are you a department leader with experience in a number of areas…except fleet management? If so, we can help.

Many businesses require employees to drive company vehicles as part of their job responsibilities. Delivery services, lawn and garden companies, construction or home improvement groups, and even universities commonly require employees to drive company-owned vehicles for work.

Whether you have two or 200 vehicles, you have a company fleet, and somebody has to manage it. In many instances, that somebody is an existing manager with experience in human resources, purchasing, maintenance, or any other company department not called fleet management.

What exactly does it take to be a successful fleet manager? Read on to learn more.

How to Become a Small Fleet Manager

If you’re interested in fleet management as a profession, you’ll need some experience and education before you take on the job. You’ll need the following before you can even apply for a fleet management position:

  • Education
  • Training
  • Certifications

Although only an associate’s degree is required to be a fleet manager, many companies prefer that you have a bachelor’s degree. You could have a degree in accounting, logistics, public administration, automotive technology, etc.

Even if you choose not to pursue one of these degrees, taking business courses can help you prepare for a career as a fleet manager.

If you don’t train through college courses, you’ll train through an internship or entry-level job. Doing both is recommended as the courses can provide you with basic knowledge while real-life experience can help you better understand the industry.

If you’ve never worked with a fleet before, the most common first step is an entry-level job before you can move up to fleet manager. However, this path is not the same for everyone.

Lastly, you’ll need several certifications to prove that you have the skills necessary to get hired at fleet management companies. The most common certification you’ll need is a commercial driver’s license (CDL).

Fleet Manager Skills

Various fleet manager skills can help you become successful at the job. Below, we will discuss a little bit about each of them.

Leadership

Any manager should have leadership skills, especially fleet managers who are required to operate and run small fleets. This skill involves being a mentor and providing guidance to a team of drivers, associates, and mechanics.

Problem-Solving

Problem-solving and critical thinking go hand in hand to identify problems and resolve them quickly and effectively. Common issues a fleet manager deals with include not enough vehicles working and breakdowns. Staffing can also be a problem if drivers get into traffic accidents and can’t work for a period of time.

If these or any other problems come up on the job, you’ll be in charge of finding a solution.

Communication

Most people think that communication only includes verbal interactions, but it involves written skills as well.

An efficient fleet communicates well. As a fleet manager, you will be the role model for communication. Drivers must be aware of safety procedures, vehicle maintenance practices, and driver regulations. It is the responsibility of the fleet manager to communicate this information to the team.

Technical Skills

Along with learning how to manage a fleet, you should be familiar with various technologies and programs that are used in this industry. For example, you’ll need to learn how fleet management software works.

The computer programs you learn will help you track and maintain driver activities along with creating a schedule for your fleet.

Habits of Successful Fleet Managers

In combination with fleet manager skills, there are some habits to learn that will help you become a successful fleet manager.

Promote Safety Training

Small fleet drivers come across a variety of distractions and safety hazards while on the road. You may choose to monitor driver performance with a driver behavior monitoring app.

This tool provides reports identifying how well drivers perform on the road. Drivers who erratically accelerate or brake may need to be reminded how proper driving procedures save the company money on fuel and maintenance.

If a driver has too many near miss accidents, they may be required to take a driver improvement course. In fact, requiring all employees to take an online defensive driving course can ultimately save the company a great deal of money.

By learning how to anticipate, identify, and avoid road hazards, drivers can help prevent accidents and avoid medical bills, lost production, vehicle repair costs, and skyrocketing insurance premiums.

Make Fleet Maintenance Accessible

You should never allow your drivers to be lazy and avoid their vehicle service and maintenance responsibilities. You should hire people you can trust, but also make fleet maintenance more accessible for your employees.

The best way to do this is by using cloud-based fleet management with automated features that can keep fleets on schedule. Everyone should have some access to the software with mobile and automated use.

Create Guidelines for Vehicle Purchasing and Disposal

To save money and make money as a small fleet manager, you should set consistent guidelines for purchasing and disposing of fleet vehicles. Your best bet is to purchase bulk vehicles and sell them when the mileage is right.

Don’t rush into purchasing vehicles for the fleet. Instead, take the time to find vehicles that meet specific requirements. From there, you can put a purchasing plan into place.

Set Goals for Your Fleet Drivers

Your drivers should always be held to performance standards which is why a driver behavior monitoring app is key. However, safety standards are not the only thing you should hold your drivers accountable for.

You’ll also want drivers to perform the proper inspections, achieve high fuel efficiency, and exhibit the best driving techniques.

Most of all, every goal you create for your fleet drivers should be actionable. With goals that are hard to reach, your fleet won’t be successful and, therefore, your management journey won’t be either.

Consider the Metrics

Don’t get too caught up in the metrics that you find unless you are only measuring the useful ones. The right metrics will help you make improvements where needed.

These are the most common metrics to consider:

  • Cost per mile
  • Total cost trend
  • Operating cost summary

Although these aren’t the only important metrics, these will provide you with insight into overall fleet performance and each vehicle’s performance. If other data impacts your fleet specifically, measure it too.

Are You Ready to Become a Fleet Manager?

Becoming a fleet manager involves more than getting the proper education and training. If you want to be successful in this field, you need the right skills and habits.

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