How to Be a Fantastic Fleet Manager

Effectiveness in management is all about maximising potential. Haulage companies, like firms in other sectors, have a lot of areas in which good management can make a major difference. From getting the best performance data to keeping up to date on technological changes, these tips will help you be the best fleet manager you can be.

Set Goals

It’s almost impossible to get where you need to go without some idea of the best route to get there. For this reason, it’s imperative to set clear goals for employees at all levels.

But how do we set goals? One especially helpful tip is to follow the mnemonic ‘SMART’, making sure your goals are:

•Specific
•Manageable
•Actionable
•Relevant
•Time-bound

In the transport industry, this means drivers should know exactly what they’ll be measured on and be able to make and record progress without hampering their work. The goals themselves should be relevant to the business and regularly measured – frequent check-ups on fuel efficiency, for instance, can be a good way to ensure workers get you value for money while on the road.

It’s also crucial to make sure workers have incentives to achieve their goals. While different incentives will be appropriate to different firms, rewarding drivers for making good progress is a great way to improve performance.

Measure All (Relevant) Data

Of course, goals are useless if you don’t have an accurate way to check they’re being met. Luckily, haulage companies have a wide range of tools available to keep an eye on performance. Dash cams and in-car telematics can get you thorough data on on-road performance without burdening drivers with any additional work.

Be careful, though: there’s always a risk of gathering too much data. To avoid getting swamped in raw numbers, focus on key areas like asset availability and cost per mile, and store records in easily searchable digital form.

Be Proactive

Data is great for identifying problem areas, but good managers are also forward thinking. Beware of the dangers of slipping into reactive management. Rather than waiting for problems to become apparent before changing practices, haulage companies need to be able to anticipate which information they’ll need and prevent problems before they arise.

Stay Up to Date on Industry Developments

Change and development are constant features in the transport sector. On top of the usual profit motives, government regulations and environmental concerns increase pressure to innovate. The competitive nature of the business means that haulage companies are always on the lookout for anything that could give them an edge.

The best managers recognise this and keep an eye on developments. Trade blogs and publications are great ways to stay aware of changes, while associations and other networks give you some idea of what the competition might be up to.

Of course, it’s also important to maintain some scepticism. Don’t jump on board with every new technology or practice you read about. Instead, use your knowledge of your business to focus on the innovations most relevant to you, and read reports carefully for evidence of proven success. Successful managers take risks, sure, but they don’t gamble their business on novelty.

These general tips should help you stand out in a crowded field of haulage companies, not just in profit and affordability but in reliability and driver welfare. Getting accurate data, innovating when possible and encouraging workers to monitor their own performance can all foster a healthy, productive working culture – a manager’s dream.

Norman Dulwich is a Correspondent for Haulage Exchange, the leading online trade network for the road transport industry. Haulage Exchange provides services for matching driver or haulage companies with available jobs. Over 5,400 member companies are networked together through the Exchange to fill empty capacity, get new clients and form long-lasting business relationships.

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Author: Desiree Michels