The importance of an in-house fleet manager is as vital as ever. Keeping track of erratic market conditions, making sure drivers have the proper resources, enhancing safety, and minimizing costs remain of utmost importance to businesses across the globe, especially during uncertain times.

And according to James Frank, Wheels, Inc. president and CEO, the in-house fleet manager has never been more important. "We are in a time of rapid and dramatic change in the fleet industry," he said. "There are certain functions that cannot be outsourced and that only the professional fleet manager can perform."

Frank pointed out that internal professionals must understand their company's long- and short-term objectives and translate them for fleet management companies and other suppliers if optimal solutions are going to be developed.

"The best of plans, if not effectively implemented, are of little value," he said. "It is the in-house professional who is responsible for obtaining buy-in and facilitating implementation."

Wheels, an automotive fleet and vehicle management company, continues to identify trends that impact in-house fleet management. And for most fleets, the job of the in-house fleet manager changed from just managing the fleet, to also managing the outsourced suppliers.

"This new role still requires the fleet expertise the fleet manager had in the past, but also requires enhanced relationship-building and communication skills," Frank said.

He also pointed out sourcing now plays a much greater role in fleet, making it imperative the fleet manager supports sourcing initiatives with subjective evaluations and specific product expertise.

Recognizing Fleet Managers Leads to Greater Innovation

Professional recognition not only helps motivate professional fleet managers to excel, but also contributes to the profession's advancement.

"Public recognition, such as Automotive Fleet's Professional Fleet Manager of the Year Award, helps spotlight role models for all fleet managers, and thus, the characteristics of superior fleet management are multiplied by the example the winners set," Frank stated.

He pointed out that while many fleets are run well today, the bar continues to be raised, making thoughtful innovation a necessity to meet the ever-higher expectations of a very competitive world.

"To be successful, it is imperative today's fleet manager gets ahead of the curve and thoughtfully anticipates the changes that are coming," Frank said. "If we wait until the requirements for change occur, it will not be possible to develop thoughtful plans and obtain the buy-in necessary to implement those plans."

Anticipating changes and the possible impact of these changes, communicating them to the appropriate areas within the organization, and implementing any action steps necessary is vital to the success of any operation.

"Since internal communication and effective implementation of new approaches is becoming so important in the fleet manager's job, building alliances in advance with important constituencies, such as HR, sales, operations, and finance, will substantially improve the probabilities of successful fleet management," Frank concluded.