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What is a fleet manager? Role and responsibilities.

What do fleet managers do? What are their duties, responsibilities, and challenges? And what makes a fleet manager effective and successful? This post answers all these questions.

A fleet manager plays a crucial role in a trucking and logistics company’s performance. Executing this function well begins with the correct understanding of what the role entails.

Learn what a fleet manager is, what the job requires, their responsibilities, and the attributes that make them effective.

What is a fleet manager?

A fleet manager is in charge of anything and everything that involves a company’s fleet of commercial motor vehicles. They oversee fleet maintenance, the process of procuring and replacing vehicles, hiring drivers, etc.

What does a fleet manager do?

A fleet manager oversees all commercial vehicles, drivers, and related assets, including their operations, conditions, external and internal policy compliance, and overall performance.

Fleet managers ensure that vehicles and drivers are being utilized to their fullest potential in a safe and cost-effective manner.

Besides operational concerns, fleet managers also have a role in a company’s human resources, administrative, and finance-related tasks.

Fleet manager duties and responsibilities

A fleet manager’s duties may vary by industry and size of fleet but they’re responsible for the company’s fleet, its drivers, and upper management.

Fleet manager responsibilities toward the fleet

The fleet manager oversees the end-to-end lifecycle of each company-owned commercial vehicle.

The first step is researching the best vehicle types and building a fleet based on a company’s operations and budget, then supervising their procurement.

Fleet managers then administer the processing and maintenance of vehicle licenses and registration, including insurance.

When a vehicle is no longer capable of serving its intended purpose, the fleet manager determines whether or not to rent, sell, reassign, or retire a vehicle. 

To ensure vehicles always run safely and efficiently, the fleet manager must direct the following activities:

  • Vehicle scheduling and dispatch
  • Efficient asset utilization and route planning
  • Vehicle inspection and maintenance
  • Real-time vehicle location tracking
  • Vehicle performance monitoring, record keeping, and improvement

Fleet manager responsibilities toward the company’s drivers

The following is a list of driver management operations a fleet manager may oversee:

  • Monitoring, correcting, and improving driving behaviors and operations
  • Mentoring, coaching, and rewarding drivers
  • Assisting in the recruitment, discipline, and termination of drivers
  • Evaluating drivers’ performances
  • Setting driving schedules
  • Tracking driver attendance, health, and other statuses
  • Ensuring drivers’ adherence to applicable transport regulations (e.g., Hours of Service compliance)
  • Providing route and operations information and technologies
  • Maintaining constant communication with drivers
  • Training drivers on risk management protocols, safety standards, and more

Fleet manager responsibilities toward the upper management

Fleet managers are accountable to the company’s management teams. A manager must ensure that the fleet contributes to attaining organizational goals using the available resources.

A fleet manager reports to upper management on:

  • Issues and bottlenecks detected in fleet operations
  • Fleet’s performance and expenses
  • Budgets and major purchases
  • Costs of fleet operations
  • Plans and sets fleet-level targets

What makes a highly effective fleet manager?

Below are some of the traits of an effective fleet manager:

1. They embrace technology

Highly effective fleet managers accept and embrace the developing technologies that can improve company operations.

For example, during the roll out of the electronic logging device (ELD) mandate, some fleet managers were unwilling to switch to the new hardware. As a result, these fleets paid stiff penalties and missed out on the benefits of using ELDs.

On the other hand, fleet managers who were quick to accept, embrace, and integrate the new ELD technology into their operations felt few or no repercussions.

Other game-changing technologies that fleet managers use include telematics software and GPS to track vehicles, ensure driver safety, and enhance the client experience.

An effective fleet manager will also leverage artificial intelligence to create insightful driver programs and optimize fleet performance.

2. They focus on safety

Highly effective fleet managers understand that safety is the priority.

When safety is compromised, commercial drivers and general motorists are exposed to life-threatening risks.

The company, on the other hand, is just one accident away from paying hundreds of thousands’, if not millions’, worth of legal penalties.

3. They simplify vehicle maintenance

While necessary, running regular vehicle maintenance can be time-consuming and tiresome.

Fleet managers use cloud-based fleet management software to streamline the entire vehicle maintenance process. This simplifies the process and helps boost fuel economy.

They also use ELDs with vehicle diagnostic features to automate inspections and fault-code detections.

4. They communicate effectively

Fleet managers put a premium on effective communication.

Effective communications means:

  • Drivers fully understand what fleet managers’ expectations are.
  • Fleet managers keep their clients and industry partners updated.
  • Fleet managers establish a friendly work environment and encourage the staff to express their observations.

5. They never coerce drivers

Effective fleet managers are mindful of their drivers’ workloads. They don’t force their drivers to work past their Hours of Service limits.

They know that coercing drivers violates the HOS rules and results in unsatisfied drivers, compromised fleet safety, and lower driver retention rates.

It’s within the fleet managers’ scope of responsibility to make sure the drivers are content with their work and feel they’re respected.

6. They use ELD data and insights

ELDs do so much more than just help companies comply with the regulations. They provide vital data and insights that fleet managers can leverage.

For example, fleet managers can regularly monitor their drivers’ performances and identify bad driving habits, such as harsh braking, sharp cornering, and hard acceleration.

These dangerous driving behaviors are safety risks that fleet managers should work to eliminate. By looking into ELD data, they can identify which drivers need coaching.

Effective fleet managers can even use an ELD’s idle-time tracking features to identify idling drivers and reduce fuel wastage.

7. They work wisely

Highly effective fleet managers understand the importance of working smarter, not harder.

They value their time and effort, so they use innovative and high-quality technology to complete their tasks faster instead of using slower manual and traditional methods. As a result, they save time and company resources while producing higher-quality work.

Let’s take the International Fuel Tax Association (IFTA) calculation as an example. Manual calculation is tedious, requiring dozens of hours to complete. It’s also prone to errors.

Instead, fleet managers can use automated software or ELDs with IFTA fuel tax reporting features to create IFTA reports in only a few clicks.

Fleet manager job descriptions

A fleet manager is required to perform duties and functions that are considered essential to the operations of the company, such as:

  • Procure vehicles, whether through lease, purchase, or other means, according to company requirements
  • Register, obtain licenses, and insure the company’s vehicles
  • Secure vehicles, drivers (during work-related activities), and relevant assets
  • Hire well-performing drivers and in-house technicians (if applicable)
  • Partner with reputable repair and maintenance shops in favorable locations
  • Oversee and schedule vehicle inspection, maintenance, and servicing to minimize downtime
  • Maintain all vehicle information and inspection records
  • Develop functional, profit-maximizing driver schedules and routes
  • Ensure that drivers follow their designated working hours
  • Manage drivers’ attendance and behavior
  • Securely store driver records
  • Reduce unnecessary expenses and increase fuel efficiency
  • Secure the fleet’s compliance with applicable regulations
  • Guarantee excellent client service
  • Analyze fleet performance data and improve accordingly
  • Report fleet performance and finances to upper management

Trucking and logistics companies often require the following qualifications from fleet managers seeking employment:

  • Degree in logistics or accounting
  • More than two years of holding positions in logistics
  • Previous work experience in transportation industries
  • Exceptional leadership, decision-making, and organizational skills
  • Analytical mindset and problem-solving capabilities
  • Exceptional attention to detail
  • Outstanding interpersonal skills
  • Excellent written and verbal communication

Fleet managers’ salaries can also vary depending on the payment structure of the fleet management company, their industry, job location, education, and work experiences.

The 2020 U.S. Bureau of Labor statistical data estimates that fleet managers (categorized as transportation, storage, and distribution managers) can earn a mean hourly wage of $50.53 or a mean yearly salary of $105,100.