Succeeding as a transport manager: 7 essential skillsets

Try to explain to someone who’s outside of the industry what a transport manager does, and it can sound like you’re describing a dozen different jobs. Essential to the financial realisation, future plans, and health and safety of a logistics operation, it’s a role that requires the ultimate all-rounder.

Did you know?

In a poll of nearly 400 transport managers, less than 10 per cent thought the general public even ‘somewhat understood’ what the job entails.

Did you know?

Stats show that, on average, almost 50 per cent of a logistics manager’s time is devoted to fleet management tasks.

Did you know?

It costs up to £1 for every minute a commercial vehicle stands idle in unforeseen congestion.

Fantastic fleet management

Sourcing and purchasing (or renting) vehicles is a huge responsibility, not least because of the initial outlay required. But effective decisions on servicing and maintenance, and the usage and costs of fuel, can prove to be just as important.

Precision planning and predictions

Being computer savvy will get the best from route planning software, but a transport manager also needs to assess developments on the fly, and predict what the effect will be on upcoming shifts. Accurately forecasting order levels and locations, and pairing them with drivers’ schedules and hours, requires logical, levelheaded thinking.

Killer customer service skills

Business will benefit hugely from a logistics manager who is able to forge strong business relationships with subcontractors for sourcing backloads. Increasing the proportion of revenue-earning journeys leads to direct financial gains, and a reduction of CO2 emissions to boot.

Did you know?

HGVs run empty a massive 29 per cent of the time – but top transport managers are working to lower this costly average.

Did you know?

SMEs currently experience a massive driver turnover rate of 20 per cent.

Did you know?

‘Remaining compliant’ is the number one challenge facing transport managers, according to an FTA poll.

Human resources heroics

Mastering the technical elements is important, but it means very little without being an effective people manager too. Driver retention is statistically the biggest challenge facing transport operators, while demotivated employees will affect service levels and, ultimately, profits. The FTA reports that 33 per cent of UK hauliers experience ‘long delays’ in filling vacant HGV driver positions.

Knowing – and enforcing – a raft of regulations

Being a CPC holder means understanding a complex framework of existing legal requirements – but the world of logistics is ever-changing. Transport managers also have to keep on top of current customs information; accurately compile all relevant records; and ensure vehicles are properly loaded, inspected and maintained.

A focus on driver training

No transport manager can ever fully switch off from their job – one in which they have to continually monitor the performance of all drivers, whether permanent or temporary. Solid training is vital to keep the fleet as safe as possible on the road, while encouraging loyalty to the business and potentially making a difference to the bottom line. When 46 per cent of all prosecutable HGV offences are linked to allowable driving hours, it’s small wonder transport managers view diligence in that area as a high priority

Did you know?

90 per cent of transport managers believe overseeing drivers’ hours compliance to be their main responsibility.

Did you know?

The average yearly fuel spend for just one truck is £38,000.

Financial savvy

A recent FTA survey revealed budget constraints are second only to ‘remaining compliant’ as the biggest challenge faced by transport managers. Meeting the expectations of any company director, on ever-smaller budgets, is a difficult balancing act. It takes sound numeracy skills to juggle the complex fixed and variable costs.

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