Many of the fleet managers we talk to are often seen as the fleet experts in their organizations. They have input on large projects and major policies, or are provided the support to start their own programs and hire the right people. 

How do they build this respect and expertise? Some have been at their agencies for decades and have built great relationships. Or they come with an impressive resume. 

As younger groups of fleet professionals replace retiring baby boomers, they’ll have to work to build their own reputations to benefit from being the fleet expert. Taking the time to create good relationships with user departments, management, and fleet staff is essential. But what else can they do?

Continue Your Education

For those new to the industry or who have just stepped into the fleet manager role from the shop floor, education can help build expertise. Some fleet managers have MBAs or other master’s degrees that they completed while working full time. Others studied for their bachelor’s degrees, also at night while working full time. It’s a sacrifice, but doable for some.

Certifications are a less time-­consuming way to get continuing education, and they’re career-­specific. There are a number of fleet certifications available. Those initials after your last name prove you have industry-specific training, provide you with resources you can use in the future, and can often help with a salary boost as well.

And then there’s education for your individual needs. If you don’t have management or finance experience, ask for classes on these topics. Or maybe it’s public speaking classes, or attending a training program for a fleet software.

Make Use of Data

Another way to show expertise is with data. We often talk about telematics data, but most fleet professionals have access to various other sources of information.

Has your fuel use decreased, and how? Has your shop safety improved, and can you prove it with less time off for injuries? Have your operating costs increased? Is this warranted, or can you do something about it? You can use data to figure out a variety of things, and use it to make a case for what your fleet needs. Too much downtime could signify a need for more technicians or newer vehicles, for example.

Or take a measure of your current operation, set a goal, and see what changes you can make in a year. These before-and-after numbers could be something you present to elected officials or management when that year is up.

Some fleets have elected to focus on safety, as part of a Vision Zero initiative or with new policies. The New York City fleet, for example, provides an update of its numbers regularly, to show its progress toward meeting the city’s safety goals.

Think About Presentation

We, as humans, care about more than just facts and figures. It’s also about who you are and how you present yourself.

Like it or not, we initially judge character and intellect based on how a person looks, their age, their gender, how they speak, what they wear, etc. We may believe that the person who delivers an eloquent speech, or has a commanding voice and a confident demeanor, or comes from a certain background, knows more than someone else. 

Some things can be changed, while others can’t. But everyone should be aware of how others perceive them, and that they may have to work harder to overcome misperceptions. 

Do you have any advice on how to build your reputation and standing within a public agency? 

About the author
Thi Dao

Thi Dao

Former Executive Editor

Thi is the former executive editor of Government Fleet magazine.

View Bio