The role of the fleet manager has changed over the years as new innovations and technologies have made it possible to expand fleet manager responsibilities far beyond administrative tasks like time and scheduling maintenance.
With new and expanding DOT regulations and compliance—even down to state-level requirements—the definition of “how to be a fleet manager” now includes expanded duties such as:
- Analyzing and interpreting policies
- Creating detailed guidelines that employees easily understand
- Interfacing with HR
- Reviewing contracts
- Maintaining relationships with clients
- Creating statements of work for new business
- Supervising staff
- Keeping morale amongst drivers, maintenance, and administrative staff positive and ready to accomplish new challenges
But there’s even more to fleet manager requirements these days than meets the eye, and their role in organizations includes tasks that are integral to operations at all levels.
What are a fleet manager’s responsibilities?
The requirements and responsibilities of fleet managers can vary by organization, but the following list further illustrates the complexities of their expanding role and how their day-to-day duties can make an impact from the C-suite to the service bay and on daily routes.
The definition of a fleet manager’s job responsibilities now includes:
- Being aware of new and evolving environmental standards for vehicles
- Researching new vehicle purchase specs and negotiating costs for fleet additions with certified dealers
- Developing programs and management processes for the disposal of old fleet vehicles, along with timelines for replacement vehicles to maintain client services
- Creating ongoing training modules to ensure that drivers are up-to-date on procedures and understand new rules of the road
- Being aware of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) initiatives as well as Environmental, Social, and Governance (DSG) programs in order to understand their company’s carbon footprint and the need to implement policies that gradually decrease emissions
- Liaising with state inspectors in both scheduled and unscheduled inspections to ensure compliance is met at all levels
- Traveling, as fleet managers are sometimes key players in maintaining relationships with nationwide accounts
- Overseeing all incidents that have been reported from initial onset to final resolution
How to become a fleet manager
As with many professions, experience plays a big part in whether any candidate can be successful in a management role. The role of the fleet manager is no different. Understanding how vehicles operate, along with the systems and software that help keep the fleet on the road are critical features of the job description.
Other qualifications for a successful fleet management career can include:
- A bachelor's degree in critical areas such as a business, logistics planning, or in supply chain management
- Fleet maintenance experience
- Knowledge of local, state, and federal regulations from OSHA and DOT
- ASE certification
- Attention to detail, interpersonal, and organizational skills are a must
- Analytical reasoning and problem-solving capabilities
- Valid and clean driver’s license
How to be an effective fleet manager: 4 skills you’ll need
While the role of fleet manager requires the ability to multitask and delegate as needed, effective leaders must also be able to handle the pressures of a large organization. Patience will take you a long way—and is important to have on your list of fleet manager skills for any trucking or delivery organization—especially when you’re managing a variety of personnel at many levels.
After all, maintaining decorum under any given circumstance is integral and will set the tone for how others behave.
Other important aspects of effective fleet management include thorough knowledge and a willingness to stay abreast of new updates in the following areas:
1. Utilize technology for operations
Understanding integral fleet management solutions and systems will make the job of fleet manager much easier. Using these tools to manage scheduling for employees, maintenance for fleet vehicles, and for critical compliance management can save valuable time. In addition, these kinds of systems can help managers better allocate budgets and funds in a more fine-tuned manner.
Whether you integrate GPS fleet tracking services, dash cam technologies, ELD, electronic DVIR compliance, or fleet safety into your fleet management plan, an understanding of the intricate details and operational aspects of these critical solutions is a must.
2. Protect the safety of both internal and external stakeholders
While the safety of internal employees, drivers, and administrative teams is integral to the success of the organization, it’s also important to consider the ramifications of issues such as data leaks of customer information, critical earnings and competitive pricing data, internal communications surrounding new business initiatives, personnel conflicts, or even investor information.
A critical eye for data safety tools and educating the company’s workforce on how to protect company assets and information is also something that should be on the radar of a successful fleet manager.
3. Ensure fleet vehicle maintenance is up to date and compliant
Keeping fleets maintained and ready for the road is always top of mind for any fleet manager. Fleet maintenance is an aspect of the business that has ramifications extending to all levels of company success. While fleet managers aren’t expected to completely understand mechanical problems, some knowledge of the basics is important and will demonstrate that you are interested in the work of your maintenance team.
In addition, being ready to listen to maintenance crews, recognize persistent problems, and understand budgeting, insurance, DOT compliance, and warranty processes is a big part of keeping vehicles healthy and road-ready.
In the end, when you exceed industry standards and can prove a level of efficiency that gets the job done, you will prove yourself invaluable.
4. Communicate effectively with drivers
As we mentioned earlier, the mark of a good fleet manager is patience. As in any business, employees have personal problems that either require them to be away from the job or those that occupy their thoughts when working. As a manager, fostering effective communication is integral for ensuring employees know where to turn. Maintaining a happy and effective crew starts from the top.
And, when you foster good communication and have an open-door policy with all employees, internal issues and personality conflicts can be more effectively handled. Maintaining written guidelines and even having monthly get-togethers with your entire team is a great way to have grievances heard, build additional team camaraderie, and put your face in front of your employees.
Whether it’s drivers, maintenance crews, or administrative teams, the fleet manager is the person responsible for creating a fine-tuned crew of professionals.
Ready to level up your skills in the fleet manager role?
Think you’ve got what it takes to become a fleet operations manager? With the right personality traits, education, experience, and the ability to leverage emerging technologies to help keep your fleet and organization running at its peak, you’ll carve out a successful career path and catch the eye of hiring managers.
Effective fleet management “takes a village” as they say, but your role as a corporate fleet manager will help keep business operations normal, expanding, profitable, and ready to accept new clients down the road.
Keep in mind that systems like HOS reminders, ELD rule monitors, and Driver Vehicle Inspection Reports (DVIRs) are more than just tools in a fleet’s war chest. They also help you demonstrate that you recognize the power of data and that you have the drive to take any fleet you manage to new heights.
To learn more about how Lytx can help fleet managers be more effective using advanced technologies, contact us today.