We have seen some evolution and some revolution in the fleet industry over the last few years. Remember the professional fleet manager? The person who managed a fleet for a living, the person whose job title was fleet manager, the person whose day-to-day work life was solely focused on running a fleet of cars and trucks? That person still exists, but for all except the largest mega fleets, the person who makes the day-to-day fleet decisions is oftentimes a person who has also other significant job responsibilities, like HR, purchasing, sales management, or even operations management.
Less than 20% of Automotive Fleet’s readers have the title of fleet manager or fleet administrator anymore. Director of HR and purchasing manager are just as common as far as titles go. But while the ranks of full-time professional fleet managers may have gotten smaller, the job has gotten infinitely more complex. Managing a fleet of several hundred vehicles is hardly a part-time job but a lot of companies treat it as such. Fortunately there are a lot suppliers out there who can help you outsource some of the more complex (or mundane) fleet functions.
Managing supplier relationships can be just as complex as managing a fleet at times. The vast hordes of purchasing managers would have most of us believe that it’s just a matter of finding the lowest cost provider.
But there are just way too many moving parts in a modern light- or medium-duty fleet to just aim for the lowest cost. Especially when you consider that even lowest cost is a nebulous concept. Is it lowest up-front cost? Is it lowest lifecycle cost? Is it lowest operating cost? And what about risk management and safety? What about downtime and efficiency? Not only are there a lot of moving parts, there is also some serious analysis that needs to be done regarding all those parts. These aren’t the kinds of decisions you want to just outsource and walk away from and forget.
Every fleet is different. Most of the service providers in our market realize this and do their best to tailor their solutions to meet the needs of today’s fleet and purchasing managers. But no one can really understand your organization’s goals better than you. There are new safety programs, new telematics devices, new vehicle classes, and new powertrains cropping up all the time. Your suppliers can help you keep on top of these new developments. And so can we with Automotive Fleet magazine, along with our websites, email newsletters, and events. But it’s up to you in the end.
The only way you can make sure your fleet is running at peak efficiency is to act like a fleet manager, not just someone who manages the fleet when you have a few free minutes. With tens or hundreds of millions of dollars at stake for a lot of organizations, there is just too much at risk to not have a fleet manager in place. Even if that person has other responsibilities, there should always be a professional focus on fleet.
If you disagree, let me know.