Fleet managers can’t afford to be satisfied with maintaining the status quo. No matter how good things are going for a fleet, there are always opportunities to do more and do better. Complex fleet operations mean that managers have to be prepared for each day to bring new challenges. Highly effective fleet managers cultivate habits that help them rise above the fray and overcome the challenges.
The author Stephen R. Covey, who wrote the best-selling book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change observed that “Ineffective people live day after day with unused potential”. When you cultivate habits that make you a more effective fleet manager, you tap into that unused potential to develop an approach that delivers bigger, better results.
Of course, when complication and complexity is the name of the game, the focus of your new habits needs to be broad enough to equip you with the skills to deal with whatever comes your way.
We have the benefit of talking to some of the best Fleet Managers in the business every day. What they’ve told us has helped us put together a list of the seven most important habits for Fleet Managers who are ready to tap into that untapped potential and elevate their game to the next level.
Read on to find out where you’re already on the right track and where you can look for ways to improve.
The Habits That Make Fleet Managers More Effective
When you want to get better results you usually have to find ways to do more with less. Fleet Managers need to find tools that help them organize, communicate, measure, and analyze lots of people and equipment even though it might be spread out all over the country at any given moment.
In light of what the job is, and how it presents Fleet Managers with unique challenges, the habits that make the biggest difference will be those that do the most to tap into the resources that Fleet Managers have at their disposal to either avoid or overcome the obstacles that come with the territory.
So, while some of the rules will seem like good advice for people working in any industry, our discussion of the rules will focus on the specifics that are most relevant to fleet management.
At the end of the day, it’s all about the bottom line.
It’s common to hear people praise the value of hard work. While it’s true that a good work ethic and an ability to stick with the job until it’s done are solid foundations to build on, it’s important to remember that trucking is a competitive industry. If it takes “going the extra mile” to get results then that is what you’ve got to deliver. But when you can work smarter and get better results, that’s what you should do.
Customers might praise your business for being hard working. What they really mean is that you delivered results. Some of the crew might put in long hours, but it’s the folks who deliver superior results consistently that do the most for your team.
As a manager, you won’t help your business grow by working more hours or doing more tedious tasks. You can only do that by getting better results. When you find ways to get those results with less time, less effort, and less risk—you’re on the right track.
Be Proactive Rather Than Reactive
A lot of Fleet Managers feel like all they ever get done is running around putting out fires and figuring out ways to resolve emergencies. When you’re constantly pulled in a dozen different directions responding to urgent issues, you can’t focus on the work that you need to do to get ahead of the problems and smooth out your fleet’s operations.
The only way to achieve a permanent difference in the frequency and severity of emergencies is to put in the effort that is needed on the processes. That can help to avoid emergencies before they happen. Taking a step back from the day-to-day challenges to look for ways to get ahead and stay ahead will pay off in the long run.
The most valuable resources that Fleet Managers have at their disposal are their teams—the folks in the office, the folks in the shop, and the folks behind the wheel out on the highways. All of those people want to do everything they can to help the business succeed. But if their manager doesn’t tell them what they need to do to help the business succeed, they can’t reach their full potential.
Setting clear expectations and being transparent about performance goals lets your people know what they need to do. It is just as important to communicate your appreciation through rewards and recognition. Communication is the key to getting the most out of your team. Getting the best out of your group is fundamental to being a more effective manager.
People and equipment are a Fleet Manager’s most important resources for getting the job done and keeping clients happy. Databases and applications that are easy to access and use are their most important tool for using those resources efficiently.
Software and other technology make it possible for fleet management to measure everything about their fleet’s operations, document the results of the tasks that get done, and utilize the data and insights to learn lessons about where they can do better.
Fleet Managers need to stay on top of technological advances that change the way the industry works. They to be proactive about adopting the tools that allow them to get more done.
Make Maintenance Easy
People are an important resource for Fleet Managers but their equipment is a very close second. When you can get your people on board with a plan to take care of your equipment, you’re doing everything you can to set your people up for success. Well maintained equipment runs more efficiently and you can rely on it to get the job done.
When your equipment is up to the task, your vehicle maintenance crews can be proactive and your drivers stay happy. That makes it easier for a Fleet Manager to make a plan and stick to it because they’ll have fewer emergencies and unanticipated obstacles to deal with while keeping their team on a plan.
The easier you make it for your drivers and maintenance crews to take care of your fleet’s equipment, the better. Over time you’ll see your daily operations smooth out and you’ll begin to reap the rewards of effective maintenance in the form of higher profits and lower stress.
Focus on Safety
With “nuclear verdicts” becoming more and more common to the industry, it just makes good business sense to put safer operations high on your list of priorities. But effective Fleet Managers know that safety has a value that can’t be fully measured in terms of dollars and cents. Focusing on safety shows that you care about your people and your equipment. It shows you care about your customers and about the general public that shares the roads with your fleet.
Profits can be restored and equipment can be repaired but injuries can’t always be healed and fatalities can’t be undone. No matter how much money you make your fleet by becoming a more efficient manager, none of it will seem worth it if people get hurt in the process.
Set Guidelines for Adding and Retiring Equipment
When a Fleet Manager has day-to-day operations running smoothly and they’ve optimized their profit margins, one of the areas where they can still make a big difference for the business is in their approach to adding or retiring equipment.
When you get the most out of all of your equipment, it’s easier to see when there are enough new opportunities to justify the investment in growing your fleet. When your equipment is operating efficiently, you can identify the point at which age and use have made an asset too inefficient to keep up with the rest of your highly effective fleet.
Retiring and replacing assets before they become a drain adds to the sum of your fleet’s productivity and efficiency.
FleetPal Connect Gives Fleet Managers The Technology They Need to Be More Efficient
FleetPal is fleet management software that makes planning, organizing, communicating, and tracking vehicle maintenance easy, efficient, and effective. Our software tools give highly effective Fleet Managers customizable templates so that they can adapt the power of FleetPal to their fleet’s specific needs.
Now that you know the 7 habits of highly effective fleet managers, you have a pretty good idea of what you need to focus on to get better results. If you’re a Fleet Manager that needs technology that can help them be more efficient, we would love to give you a demonstration of what
FleetPal can do. Contact us today to request a tour of the platform and have one of our vehicle maintenance experts answer all of your fleet management questions.