How To Be A Highly Efficient Fleet Manager
The role of the modern fleet manager demands a variety of skill sets and knowledge, not just of vehicles and their suitability for the role in question, but of legislation, driver training and a host of other regulatory and compliance issues.
Larger companies often have a full time vehicle fleet manager whose sole responsibility is the efficient running of the vehicle fleet on a day-to-day basis.
Other, often smaller businesses, may add the function of the vehicle fleet manager to that of another job role or department, such as human resources, administration or secretarial, depending on the number of vehicles involved and the scale of the business.
What does a fleet manager do?
Traditionally, many companies have relied on an inhouse fleet or transport department comprising a fleet manager and several fleet administrators – depending on the scale of the job – to tackle the efficient management of their fleet of vehicles.
Often such companies have operated in fields like logistics, distribution, sales, service delivery or transport where the operation of vehicles is actually a core part of their business.
Other businesses may not have a strict operational need to operate a vehicle fleet, but see the provision of company vehicles as a means of attracting or retaining a high calibre of staff and view it as an integral element of the remuneration package.
What are the duties and responsibilities of a fleet manager?
Currently, a corporate fleet is likely to represent the second largest cost, after payroll, for many organisations, and so effective fleet management is absolutely key to ensure that vehicles are run as efficiently as possible.
The duties and responsibilities of a fleet manager can therefore be broad, and have expanded over time to embrace not just the efficient running of the vehicle fleet, but legislative changes in health and safety and duty of care, plus the rising importance of green issues.
And the fleet remit has more recently been extended to include new areas such as employee mobility management – one of the latest buzz-words! – along with corporate social responsibility as the impact of the business on the environment assumes ever greater importance.
Amongst some of the areas for which the fleet manager is responsible are:
- Vehicle sourcing and purchasing
- Funding management
- Servicing and maintenance
- Fleet administration
- Fuel management
- Accident management
- Duty of care
- Risk management
- Driver training
- Driver contact
- Vehicle tracking
- Vehicle disposal
So the remit for the highly efficient fleet manager is broad and requires that he or she becomes not a jack of all trades, but a master of quite a few!
How can fleet managers become more efficient?
To keep abreast of the latest developments in efficient fleet management, full-time fleet managers may be encouraged by their companies, or may see it as personal development, to gain a qualification in their chosen field.
Organisations such as the Institute of Car Fleet Management (ICFM) offer courses in varying levels of fleet management from introductory through to advanced, and are a great way of keeping pace with developments in vehicle fleet management.
At the same time, trade associations such as the Association of Car Fleet Operators (ACFO) offer peer-to-peer networking opportunities and a source of sound, reliable and up-to-date fleet management ideas and information to help the modern fleet manager become more efficient.
Taking the outsourcing route
Growing numbers of businesses of all sizes have opted to outsource the management of their fleet, or at least part of it, to an independent fleet management specialist.
It is worth bearing in mind that, however experienced an inhouse fleet department is, it is usually is a departure from the organisation’s core business, while for a specialist fleet management company it is their absolute focus.
Not only will the independent specialist be up to date with the latest legal requirements and business practices, but they will also be able to bring a range of technical skills and expertise to bear, including greater manpower, that may be lacking in the originating company.
This means that any new legal, procedural or environmental developments, any changes in the market place, new developments or innovative fleet management ideas can be quickly assessed and used to gain an advantage and increase the benefits to the business.
Operating in partnership
For many fleet managers forming a strategic partnership with a fleet management specialist can provide the best of both worlds, by bringing in a specialist to handle certain aspects of the fleet operation while the fleet manager remains in effective, strategic and overall control.
There are many instances of such partnerships working very effectively for both parties and leading to more efficient and effective fleet management for the business. And the fleet manager can select areas where additional help and support may be needed to ensure the objective is achieved.
Maintenance management is a classic case in point and CLM has a long established history in managing the servicing and maintenance of vehicles for fleet customers to achieve efficiencies and cost savings that the fleet manager alone may not have been able to achieve.
Another key area is that of the management of fleet accidents where an accident management specialist, like CLM, can provide an all-embracing service that ensures that, not only is vehicle downtime kept to an absolute minimum, but costs are kept under control and drivers kept mobile at all times.
If you would like more details of how a strategic partnership with a specialist provider, like CLM, can work to your advantage please get in touch.