The Role of a Fleet Manager
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Technology can offer many advantages and in some cases, it’s possible to manage virtually what previously had to be done face to face.
Nevertheless there is still a strong need for field operatives in many businesses whether it’s for distribution, sales or account management.
This means operating a fleet, is a part of the business which can suck up valuable resources if not managed proactively.
The role of a fleet manager is wide-ranging and diverse with many pressures. Here’s a brief overview of what a modern fleet manager is responsible for.
Getting the right vehicles
Businesses want vehicles that are economical, robust and are large enough to suit their purpose. A small super-mini may be particularly cost-efficient but in practice may not be large enough to carry sufficient supplies.
But against the needs of the business is also the environmental burden: one of the most rapidly increasing priorities is a requirement to be using vehicles which are eco-friendly.
The fleet manager therefore needs to be able to select the vehicles which deliver the company’s needs as well as having green credentials too. Many customers look for a business which is environmentally aware so this can have a direct impact on sales.
To be able to do this, the manufacturer’s information will be a good starting point but it’s also possible to monitor the vehicles in the fleet and their performance. A good tracking system will deliver useful information about performance which a fleet manager can use to inform their choices in the future.
Identifying areas of improvement
Budget will be a pressing concern for every fleet manager, as left unchecked the cost of vehicles could drag a business under.
It’s therefore imperative that costs are kept under control at all times, and most importantly monitored.
There’s a range of different tactics which can be utilised to get the best out of the money available and a fleet manager will be responsible for ensuring these are put in practice.
It may as simple as making sure the vehicles are well maintained; low tyre pressure will burn more fuel, as will a heavy load.
At the opposite end of the spectrum, it may be the smallest details which accumulate and cost the business money. Driving style for example can have a big influence. Excessive acceleration, braking and leaving the engine idling for long periods can burn fuel and also increase wear and tear.
Drivers who aren’t getting the best out of their vehicle could benefit from attending driving courses. This isn’t about the basic road skills; this course focuses on how to maximise fuel economy and protect the vehicle and is known as ‘green driving techniques’.
Getting the right technology
A good fleet manager will make sure the company invests in the right equipment and technology to allow them to do their job effectively.
This means having advanced tracking facilities in each vehicle for example. This not only provides the drivers with the protection of knowing that the company can get help to them if needed, but it provides a suite of valuable data about journey routes, traffic, the performance of the car and also driver behaviour.
Another useful tool is a fuel card as it provides you with much greater control about where your employees fill up, and also reduces the administration on expenses too. With a combined invoice for all fuel costs, it’s much easier to manage than individual claims. A fuel card can complement a tracking package very well, providing additional information about the driver. For example, a driver that always waits until the last minute to refuel, visiting costly motorway services rather than topping up around town could be adding a significant chunk to your bill every year. A fuel card will help you understand refuelling patterns and identify where costs can be saved.
A fleet manager needs to stay on top of all the latest pieces of technology and equipment in the market that can help them do their job more effectively and improve performance.
A fleet manager is one of the most important positions in the business and is a role which has evolved over the decades. Although the exact responsibilities may vary from one company to another, the fleet manager will always be the individual who has a duty to get the most out of the available budget by improving performance and upping efficiencies, whilst satisfying environmental needs too.
Demanding and challenging, the role of a fleet manager is one which is set to continue to become a highly influential position in any business which requires a fleet operation.