Fleet vehicles are essential to a modern business. Whether you have a set of company cars simply transporting people to meetings and customers, or lorries carrying goods and services, or a combination of both, fleet management has become an integral role in an organisation.
The management of fleet vehicles is a varied and complex role, and whether this is an internal or sub-contracted role, done badly it can create costs, inefficiencies and a loss of business. But done well and it can make a huge contribution to the success of any organisation. There are lots of skills needed to be a successful fleet management provider, and this is perhaps best summed up by a primary need to be able to multi-task. But we can look at the many disciplines involved in fleet management here, and outline what makes a good fleet management provider.
Time management – You are juggling many responsibilities and talking to suppliers, drivers, customers and management. You are also talking about fuel efficiency, depreciation, deliveries and strategies. There is a lot to balance and lots of things changing too, and at the same time you are responsible for the drivers and their vehicles and you are responsible to the customers and to management, so being able to prioritise is critical.
Communication – With evolving technology this is changing all the time, but on a basic level you will need different communication skills for instructing, negotiating, notifying and reporting. You can be trying to locate a driver for a late delivery one minute and then writing a management report on vehicle usage or a new programme and initiative the next, so different communication skills are required at all times.
Set goals – KPIs and metrics are essential to a modern business, so a good fleet management provider needs to set objectives and ideally meet them. There are lots of operating costs involved in fleet management so you must be target-orientated and able to push both yourself and your team, as well as being alive to re-assessing these targets as necessary.
Flexibility – The one constant in fleet management is that everything is always changing. Deliveries, routes, meeting times or locations, personnel, technologies and strategies can all be amended, and this can be either planned or unplanned, so you need to be able to adapt and still meet your targets. Fleet management is a dynamic business and is always finding new ways to improve, so you need to be able to change with it.
Decisive under pressure – Time is money to any organisation and sometimes delays, errors or even just a change in circumstances can create pressure. You are faced with making key decisions, often with little preparation. The important thing is that you can make fact-based decisions, so surround yourself with good, reliable resources and think quickly, but always in-line with management strategies, principles and company policies. Being strong and decisive under pressure is an important attribute to a fleet management provider.
People-orientated – Obviously your main tool is the vehicles, but you are working with people too. As a fleet management provider you are a lifeline to many people out on the roads, but also to customers, colleagues and management, so you need a good rapport with different types of people, and this requires, not just varied people skills, but also an adaptable personality.
Proactive – If costs are building up and targets aren’t being achieved you may need to bring new ideas and solve issues. Even when things are going well, most organisations strive for continuous improvement. The ability to anticipate problems, adapt quickly to changing circumstances and embrace new technologies is huge, and is a big factor in singling you out as a superior fleet management provider.