There are many moving parts within any logistics-based business and typically the fleet manager is going to be the one keeping a close watch on all the moving parts. If you are detail oriented, enjoys a fast-paced environment, and can juggle many balls at one time, this might be an optimal career for you. Another great element of breaking into this industry is the vast amount of opportunity for transition. With many roles, starting with a company under one job description might lead you to winding up working under another one at some point. If your ultimate goal is fleet management below are five responsibilities to educate yourself on while you weigh out the overall pros and cons.
The drivers are the ones that keep the business moving physically and the fleet managers are responsible for scheduling them, optimizing routes, monitoring productivity, and managing payroll. A significant responsibility as it pertains to drivers is going to be managing truck driver hours as it relates to not only payroll but compliance regulations and company policy as well. You can review a fleet managers guide on how many hours a truck driver can drive so that you have a baseline knowledge for scheduling purposes.
Compliance is a tricky thing because it is both easy to stay within but also easy to slip outside of. With compliance issues having the potential to shut down a driver, a vehicle, or an entire department, it is a fleet manager’s responsibility to have a thorough understanding of the compliance factors that apply to their specific company or industry and watch them like a hawk. Not only can violating these terms shut you down, but they can also jeopardize employee or public safety, put your reputation at risk, and maybe even cost you your job.
Even though a fleet manager is not the one to drive the vehicles they will be the one responsible for monitoring them. Keeping a watchful eye on routine repairs such as oil changes, checking tires for pressure and wear, and standard fluid levels are all things you can expect in this role. Depending on the size of the fleet and company perhaps there is a mechanic on site that works in tandem with the fleet manager, but be advised that again, although you are not the hands-on employee, it is your responsibility to have your finger on the pulse of those whose it is.
You can significantly minimize vehicle downtime by staying abreast on maintenance and repairs. Since it is a key element of your job to keep the wheels turning within your fleet, understand the costs associated with having one, or multiple, vehicles out of service for a period. Since this industry comes with many unexpected problems, do yourself a favor and work hard to stay out of dodge from the ones that you can see coming.
Negotiating with Suppliers
It is not uncommon for fleet managers to be the point person on many types of negotiations. Depending on the type of logistics company you are working for you should expect to have to know your suppliers, their terms, and the employees with whom you will have daily interactions with. Knowing who to call, for what issue, at what number, and how that affects your budget and schedule is a key responsibility you need to be prepared for each day. You should also know that you will be responsible for patching up any cracks in the foundation of the relationship between your company and your suppliers. Be prepared for the responsibility of improving client management and relationships to potentially fall on your shoulders.
On top of having to manage drivers’ tasks, you will also have to manage your employees on a human resources level. Perhaps there is a dedicated department for elements like recruiting, disciplining, and reviewing employee performance, however as the one holding the evidence to support these actions you should expect to be involved. Since this is a responsibility that is more intermittent than daily, it would be beneficial to keep a log for yourself on each of your direct reports. This log does not have to be anything fancy however it will be helpful, say at the time of an annual employee review, to have something to reference when it comes time for you to contribute to the process.
Those who hold this title are going to be responsible for collecting and analyzing data necessary to optimize overall operations. If you are lucky your company will have software solutions in place to support this responsibility and the collection and analysis of data will be streamlined. Fleet managers must have a keen eye for efficiencies and be able to identify not only if current roadblocks exist but also where and when there is potential for future ones to appear. Data can come across the fleet managers desk in the form of driver routes that need optimization, vehicle reports that indicate the need for service or sale, and employee concerns that require action and attention.