Fleet Managers have the unique mission of ensuring that vehicles, and their components, are in working order, are in manufacturer compliance, and are safe for personnel. A lot can go wrong with law enforcement vehicles, the demand placed upon them is grueling, and is not the kind of conditions we would want our own vehicles to go through. A Fleet Manager is relied upon heavily for ensuring these vehicles will perform at their greatest on a moment’s notice, while not knowing when that moment will be.
The Role of The Fleet Manager
Fleet Manager as a role has been evolving for some time. Much like anything in life, trial, error, experience, and technology have come together at intersecting points and helped define the role. Some agencies have assigned not only the vehicles, but all equipment within vehicle, like prisoner partitions, laptop mounts, Radar/LIDAR equipment, dash-mounted cameras (DMCs), GPS, and numerous add-on equipment as part of the Fleet Manager’s purview.
Fleet Manager’s are required to plan vehicle and related equipment budgets, which means being in contact with vendors, conducting price surveys, soliciting presentations and proposals, and then presenting all relevant information to their administration. While looking at the longer-term needs, Fleet Managers are also required to inspect vehicles and their assigned equipment, generally once a month, scheduling routine and out-of-routine preventative maintenance, repair work, and also dealing with collision reports, major overhauls, and part replacements. Keep in mind, we’re detailing the needs around the vehicle itself. You can apply all of these tasks to the types of installed equipment that patrol vehicles have, and when you get down factoring all the time and effort that goes into it, you can see why it’s wise to have a person in solely charge of this operation, rather than relying on your Asset Manager to do it, while managing all other forms of equipment.
With this assignment, there has been a traditional assignment of handling laptops, radios, and cameras in the vehicles, with the obvious reason being that this is all equipment in the vehicle. In a later article we’ll explain that parceling out this equipment to a Communications Manager is best practice.
Getting back to Fleets Managers, they need systems that allow them to track all of their tasks completed, pending, as well as tracking requests from agency personnel as it relates to their assigned patrol vehicles. They also need to be able to write notes, assign equipment between vehicles, while maintaining accurate timelines of in-service, and overall time in agency for vehicles and assigned equipment. All of these tasks, and details, and notes, and activities can be a lot to maintain. Some Fleet Managers handle thousands of vehicles, with a hundred types of vehicles, all with their own unique equipment and standards to follow. Some Fleet Managers have a dozen of the same type of vehicle to manage, each with unique equipment requirements, all on a different timeline of service. The missions vary, and so do the details, but at the end of all it, Fleet Managers have a detail-oriented job that requires sophisticated tools to not only thrive, but to succeed for themselves, and for the benefit of your agency.
We also know Fleet Managers have their own language to operate by. Restorations, Dismantles, In-Service (we know the term in the field differently), ‘portering’, allocations, depreciation schedules, subrogation, you name it, there’s a word around every corner in a Fleet Manager’s world that you don’t know, and consequently, you need to ensure that you are supporting your Fleet Managers with the best tools available to carry out the mission of keeping the rest of your personnel safe while in their vehicles. Asset management software that can input nomenclature, and accept definitions of those activities goes a long way in reporting accurately, the state of each vehicle and each piece of equipment that your Fleet Manager is supervising.
Of course, what asset management role wouldn’t be complete without the possibility of a sales management aspect? Some agencies have removed this role by placing a contract with a third-party company that buys vehicles at a set price, based on vehicle conditions (i.e. depreciation schedules come up here), and this means the Fleet Manager is only responsible for scheduling showings with the companies that are on that year’s schedule, developing sale paperwork, to include clearing the vehicle title, ensuring the vehicle is properly re-registered out of government use, and into private use, and of course signing for the purchases. In other instances, agencies are using a surplus contract with the original vehicle sales staff to sell patrol vehicles back to them for resale on their respective lots. That can save some headaches, but it’s also not what every agency does, and it sometimes is not the best option. Agencies have to weigh the overall benefit of any resale scenario with vehicles and vehicle equipment, because it can cost a lot of labor to maintain such sales, however, the tools to accomplish this task, like your asset management software, should make it easy to acquire the items you need to accomplish sales through your Fleet Manager, which is a cost savings itself.
Fleet Managers have a job where safety is paramount, and they can’t take a day off from the requirements of the job. Not only is the job a true separate activity from those of the Asset Manager, it is one that needs special tools all its own to accomplish the mission, whether they be in concert with your asset management system or not. Ensuring your Fleet Manager has the right tools, ensures vehicle safety is not only possible, that it should be expected.
Be safe out there!