Recently, Mike Antich
with Business Fleet
blogged about the lack of succession planning for the fleet management role in the fleet industry
. As he writes, “The majority of fleet managers are primarily Baby Boomers with few younger fleet managers… Today's fleet managers comprise a narrow demographic band and in the next 10-15 years, most will retire.” Is this true for your business? Does your organization have a succession plan?
Fleet management is a skill that combines exceptional short and long term planning, experience with supply chain management and logistics, human resources, as well as safety and regulatory compliance and customer service. With a majority of fleet managers (if Antich is right, which I believe he is) due to retire, it is critical for companies to recognize the importance of their role, contributions and education. In a sputtering economy, many fleet businesses are focused on truck utilization and survival. It can be difficult in this environment to plan for 10 to 15 years from now. Elevating the role of the fleet manager may prove difficult – but it can be done with strong contribution to operational performance.
One way some fleet managers have chosen to provide additive value is to take on even more responsibilities, even having more than one title. While this may provide short term job security, the reality is that fleet management is a full-time, complicated role. Fleet managers already wear more than one hat. The definition of the job is to be able to collaborate, partner, multi-task – and deliver.
Another way to elevate the fleet manager role is to demonstrate like-minded leadership. Focus on gaining expertise and meeting the corporate goals of top line reduction. Look for opportunities to reduce costs and streamline operations. Many of the fleet manager responsibilities are best kept in-house. Fuel management, however, may be a candidate for outsourcing and provide tangential value.
Partnering with the right company can allow fleet managers to focus on core competencies while providing continuity to a key component of fleet management. Saving money by utilizing fuel experts supported with the right tools and information can optimize fuel inventories and reduce costs. Demonstrating that you can reduce top line costs while managing millions of dollars of assets can only ensure success.
From what I’ve seen, whether lauded or not, the fleet manager position is here to stay – and more strategic to the business than ever. Fleet managers will continue to be a vital component of logistics and operations – whether they elect to keep fuel management in-house or outsource.