No two days in fleet management are the same. And no matter what a fleet manager’s basic discipline or background may be, mastering the specifics of the job is as vital as having a clear strategy. Connecting the fleet manager role to the organization’s scope is equally important. Here are some ways this can be done through relationships:
- Learn the fleet. At any given moment, fleet managers need to be aware of their fleet status, age, structure, changes and drivers. Especially aware about the needs of drivers. Each of them has problems than need to be listened about. They expect the fleet team to solve their fleet troubles, right? If a driver is never complaining, that’s too good to be true. Be proactive and ask the right questions.
- Learn about the basics of vehicle technology from vehicle manufacturers. Fleet managers don’t need to be certified mechanics, but they do need to be familiar with the cars they are in charge of. They need this when they have to answer and explain how things work, in non-technical terms.
- Network daily, be permanently curious and learn continuously. Get to know peers in similar industries, with similar sized fleets that use similar vehicles. Also, network internally, with colleagues, head of departments and managers. Share your best insights with your team! Sometimes, this relationship building values more than the cold system data. You will understand how people think and they will have a better idea about each one’s role and how they can benefit from that.
- Report appropriately to each stakeholder. Fleet managers need to understand that the higher up in the organization their information goes, the less time is spent reviewing it, with a more dilluted the level of understanding it. The most senior managers (CxO’s) simply don’t have time to wade through the detail that an immediate supervisor has. Therefore, fleet managers need to provide two reporting groups : a detailed for the direct line management; the other should be a more strategic summary for the upper-level managers.
- Meet stakeholders in person. Take direct, personal responsibility when a senior manager orders a new company vehicle, or when it is due for service but also listen to the drivers when they voice their feed-back. Personal assistance in renewing a vehicle or solving a driver problem can create the kind of casual contact that will help in getting the fleet team message across the organization.
Fleet Management is a never-ending process, connected to almost all the other lines of business. The properly-connected fleet manager learns the business from all sides, joins industry organizations, networks with peers whenever possible, discusses reports in person and develops personal relationships with as many stakeholders as possible.