The Secretary Magazine

Fleet Management decision making

Fleet management is a crucial part of the modern business. Companies in many industries rely on fleet vehicles to deliver products and services to customers, and those fleets must be properly and efficiently managed.

Being a fleet manager is a complex and varied role, one that requires wearing a lot of different hats and wearing them all well. While many fleet managers enjoy long and exciting careers, they need specific skills to thrive in their industries.

From multi-tasking to communicating with many individuals, fleet managers must be well-versed in several disciplines and possess many dynamic qualities. In this article, we will pinpoint the top nine qualities of the best fleet managers.

A fleet manager oversees all commercial vehicles, drivers, and related assets, including operations, conditions, external and internal policy compliance, and overall performance. Fleet managers ensure that cars and drivers are being utilised to their fullest potential safely and cost-effectively.

The best fleet managers can juggle their responsibilities and obligations seamlessly and simultaneously. They need to balance everything to make the fleet run efficiently. With suppliers wanting one thing, drivers suggesting something else, and management having a variety of focus areas, such as fuel economy, safety, depreciation and image, fleet managers have to be able to juggle many demands and challenges if they’re not able to successfully multi-task several different things, your time as a fleet manager might be short-lived.
With the company’s success ultimately resting on their shoulders, fleet managers must be accountable for maintaining the programmes, vehicles and policies put in place. Great fleet managers understand the importance of their role in the success of a corporation, taking their responsibilities very seriously. Leading by example, they create a culture that stresses accountability.

When choosing your vehicles, consider whether you want to move into low-emission cars, bearing in mind that new, conventionally fuelled (ICE) vehicles will no longer be sold from 2035. If so, consider factors such as range and whether you want to provide on-site charging. Apart from how the vehicles are to be fuelled, consider their purpose. Lots of short urban trips or longer delivery runs? What sort of loads will the cars be expected to carry?

Your choice should be based on their ability to fulfil your commercial requirements and on whole-life costs, including depreciation, the impact of any differential writing down allowances and restricted rentals, service, maintenance, repairs, replacements and fuel. Decide on funding – purchase or lease, and if the lease, the lease terms, for instance, some include maintenance, replacement and driver checks. Then, decide how the vehicles will be provided, from fully expensed company cars to grey fleet (expensed business use of a privately owned car.)

You’ll need to decide what kind of vehicles to purchase and how many, and this will be influenced by several factors, including the age of your fleet, maintenance, and the need – if it’s a business strategy – to expand the company. You may need to consider a mix of vehicles and whether to buy or lease. These all have pros and cons, and you need to consider business imperatives when making these choices.

You need to ensure your drivers are reliable and do their job correctly, don’t have accidents too often, don’t stop for long lunches, and are generally the best. That’s an important decision, and Human Resources will need to be involved so you can be sure references are checked and documents verified. It would be best if you also were confident that these drivers are trained on safety aspects regularly and that this is taught as part of the company’s culture.

Regarding keeping your drivers safe and in contact, vehicle tracking software provides a real-time overview of where your vehicles are and how they are being driven. You will receive immediate updates and alerts about any issues and can keep in touch with your drivers, letting them know if their schedule needs to be changed. You can collect information on speed, fast acceleration, and hard braking using telematics technology, which will help improve driver behaviour and reduce both strain on the vehicles and fuel costs. It will also help you see if any issues need addressing, perhaps by extra training.

Don’t forget technology is rushing, and you must keep up. What are your peers doing so you can make the best decisions for your company to constantly ensure an effective – and profitable – fleet operation?

Use the data to regularly review the available information to identify any issues which require attention, considering the nature of the vehicle deployment; for example, drivers who travel significant distances at a consistent speed will deliver better fuel consumption than the user who spends a deal of time on heavily congested roads. Focus on improving performance, prioritising those areas where the payback is most significant in compliance with legal or organisational cultural demands or cost savings.
Fleet managers are also crucial in keeping costs down and maximising profits. This is where proper software comes into play because juggling all that data into a spreadsheet can be complex and the cause of many headaches. Adequate software will also show where there are patterns, which can highlight an issue before it becomes a migraine. That’s a difficult choice, and you’ll need to be guided by the Accounting Department, but argue your case if what they are using doesn’t meet your needs.

Fleet managers are responsible for managing a team of people and their schedules and must often have strong time management skills. Not only do fleet managers manage and delegate work to their team members, but they also focus on their work, ensuring the process runs smoothly. Great fleet managers are usually excellent at prioritising tasks effectively.
Efficient fleet management translates into better customer service. Timely deliveries, accurate arrival time estimations, and better communication with customers are all made possible through effective fleet management. And happy customers, as we all know, are more likely to return.