When one becomes a part of fleet management, he or she is responsible for acquiring, maintaining, insuring, and fueling company-provided vehicles as well as the expenses associated with it. He or she is also responsible for hiring and being in charge of the drivers of these vehicles.
In order to enter this field, a good starting point is to get an associate’s degree in vehicle maintenance. While you do not have to actually be a mechanic and work on cars, trucks, or vans, you should have a good working knowledge of how they run, what it takes to keep them running, and what is needed to fix them. This not only keeps the fleet on the road, it is also important to driver safety.
After gaining that knowledge, you should get a bachelor’s degree in either fleet management, if it is offered, or in business, if it is not. Regardless of your major, you need to be sure that your education includes English composition, Accounting, Finance, Risk management, Law, Civics or government, and Systems or computers. These classes are important because the profession requires a wide range of skills, knowledge, and experience.
Another area good fleet managers must understand is the automobile business. Those interested in fleet management should know how vehicles are priced as this information is critical to negotiating lease contracts and purchase deals. You should also learn the basic terminology and lingo that is used. Additionally, the overall distribution and manufacturing process, from order to production, and from shipment to delivery should be a part of any fleet manager’s knowledge base.
Since one of the largest expenses any fleet will incur is depreciation, those involved in fleet management should know the different resale channels through which cars and trucks are remarketed. These include retail, wholesale, auction, “whole-tail,” and to employees. In addition, a person in this position should also know which of these markets are best at any particular time or for any particular vehicle.
In addition to having a working knowledge of both vehicle maintenance and the auto industry, a fleet manager should also know how national accounts are used in a maintenance management program, and in regards to billing and pricing, as well as when to send drivers to the dealer.
Two viable career tracks that can help you gain the experience necessary to become a fleet manager include taking an entry-level position in a large fleet such as through a clerical or administrative job in a fleet department. Though such positions are less available today than they were in the past, these positions can help to expose you to the day-to-day activities this job entails including learning how to communicate with drivers, the process of placing orders and tracking inventory, license/title/tax procedures, and other daily tasks.
Another common route to a career in fleet management is through those companies that help to service and manage fleets. This list includes maintenance providers, accident management companies, fleet fuel card providers, safety training suppliers, GPS tracking companies, and other similar players in the industry. Most of these have entry-level positions that can introduce new graduates to the industry.