What is Fleet Management? (Understanding the Basics of Fleet Management)
Fleet managers are those charged with keeping a fleet running smoothly. To be effective, they typically wear several hats in their daily jobs. A fleet manager’s job spans a gamut of responsibilities from HR to Compliance to Metrics. An effective manager should be good with people, vehicles, and technology.
Fleet managers have the power to make or break any fleet business. Proper management techniques and skills can save money, improve morale, and help the fleet run more efficiently. Here are some of the most common concerns a fleet manager must address:
The Core Components of Fleet Management
Asset Management: Ensuring Efficiency and Prolonging Life Span
Asset tracking is a massive focus for fleet managers and an immense benefit of fleet management software. Of course, knowing where assets are in real-time prevents theft. Even better, when you know what is on hand, you are less likely to purchase identical products and waste money on items the fleet doesn’t need. As for assets the fleet already has but isn’t using, the software can track usage, allowing you to decide to replace them with something more worthwhile. Asset tracking can save thousands of dollars for fleets annually by taking full advantage of everything the fleet owns.
Driver Management: Ensuring Safety and Maximizing Productivity
A good fleet manager prioritizes efficiency and safety. Fleet managers can harness telematics to track unsafe driving behaviors like hard braking, rapid acceleration, speeding, and swerving. Then, a fleet management program can alert drivers and fleet managers when these behaviors occur and provide real-time coaching opportunities. You’ll find that this feature goes a long way in preventing accidents, which are substantial financial drains on a company when they occur, not to mention the time and resources they take up.
Furthermore, fleet management software can reward drivers who exhibit safe behaviors, encouraging good driving habits and reducing accidents even more. By gamifying safe driving, drivers have more incentive to prioritize positive habits and earn prizes and rewards for their efforts.
Maintenance Management: Preventive Measures and Routine Checkups
Only a well-maintained vehicle can consistently get your goods where they need to go. If you’re suffering from unexpected repairs and breakdowns, you’ll quickly find you’re wasting time you don’t have. Fleet managers must enact a preventative maintenance plan to avoid this problem. They will use fleet management software to obtain inspection reports and receive automated notifications to let you know when you need to complete specific tasks such as:
- Tire rotations
- Brake inspections
- Oil changes
Risk Management: Identifying and Mitigating Potential Threats
Another part of a fleet manager’s job is preventing risk. Fleet managers can analyze data from fleet management software to determine what risks the fleet is facing. Then, they must find ways to avoid these potential risks. Risk management is crucial not only for driver safety but also for maintaining low insurance premiums.
Data Management: Leveraging Information for Enhanced Decision-making
You may have already noticed that fleet management involves a lot of data. This data can be obtained with fleet management software and helps fleet managers make the critical decisions they need to make every day. Fleet managers track all kinds of data, such as the frequency of safety incidents, use of assets, maintenance needs, and more.
Four Types of Fleets:
A trucking fleet can be big or small. It consists of trucks that draw long trailers behind them for high-volume loads. Some of these fleets make local deliveries, but usually, trucking fleets handle long-haul routes.
Delivery fleets do not necessarily consist of large trucks. These fleets handle local deliveries. Usually, trucking fleets deliver goods to a distribution center, and delivery fleets get those goods to their final destination.
Commercial fleets can include any type of vehicle. These fleets may serve all kinds of purposes, including cross-country shipping and local delivery. Commercial fleets may have multiple managers to handle their operations.
A transport fleet differs from other fleets because these vehicles don’t transport goods. Instead, they transport people. They even include rental car fleets, where the customer does the driving. These fleets must take special care regarding safety.
Fleet Management Roles and Responsibilities
Fleet managers have many responsibilities on their plate. Here are just a few tasks that fleet managers must handle:
- Vehicle Purchasing or Leasing – To be a fleet manager, you must first have a fleet. That means purchasing or leasing vehicles. But the best option isn’t just to go to your local dealer and buy trucks. You’ll need to have a good grasp of the day-to-day needs of your business so you know what type of vehicles will work best. Then, you’ll need to do a good bit of research and negotiation to ensure you are getting the best price on your vehicles.
In addition to the initial purchase of commercial fleet vehicles, there are plenty of other times you’ll need to buy a truck or van. Vehicles will eventually wear out and become less efficient to repair. Successful fleets will grow and likely add new types of vehicles. No matter the reason, vehicle purchasing is a large part of fleet management.
- Vehicle Maintenance – Commercial fleet vehicles spend a lot of time on the road, causing wear and tear. You’ll need to stay on top of everyday tasks like oil changes and keeping your tires in good repair. But there are also less common maintenance tasks like roadside assistance and repairs after accidents.
A good fleet manager will keep the fleet running well with predictive maintenance. This practice means fixing or replacing parts before they wear out. A great way to manage a fleet vehicle maintenance program is to install trackers in each vehicle. This way, your fleet management software can alert you when maintenance is needed, or things are beginning to show their age. Staying ahead of routine maintenance means less downtime for your fleet and more time on the road.
- Remarket Used Vehicles – Even the best maintenance program won’t keep your vehicles on the road forever. Eventually, essential parts will begin to degrade. Also, newer vehicles tend to have better fuel efficiency, leading to savings at the gas pump. Keeping track of the lifecycle of fleet vehicles is an integral part of a fleet manager’s job. When upgrading to newer vehicles, you must sell off the old ones. But even before they are ready for sale, keeping your vehicles clean and in good working order can help with remarketing efforts. After all, significant preventable mechanical problems, a stained and soiled cab, or missing accessories will drop your price when it’s time to sell.
- Fleet Safety – Possibly the most critical piece of the puzzle is fleet safety, which is the responsibility of the fleet manager. Fleets must ensure fleet vehicles are safe to drive and drivers are properly trained. Today, it also means ensuring your drivers aren’t driving distracted while texting or using phone apps. You’ll want to keep track of your fleet’s safety score and address any problems before they get out of hand. And you’ll need to address accidents when they happen because no fleet manages a perfect driving record for long. GPS fleet tracking technology allows managers to see which drivers exhibit dangerous behaviors like speeding or hard braking. This way, problematic habits can be corrected before an accident occurs. A good program will allow you to coach drivers in real time, using a buzzer or other in-cab communication when they exhibit risky behavior.
- Driver Retention – Besides keeping your vehicles on the road, you must keep your drivers happy. After all, keeping good drivers is much less expensive than constantly hiring and training new ones. A good fleet manager should also have a bit of human resources focus. A great way of doing this is to implement a safety gamification program. This type of program rewards drivers for safety performance metrics, letting them compete to be the safest in the fleet. It helps keep your team happy with rewards they’ll appreciate while motivating them to improve as they go about their day.
- Fuel Management – Fuel expenditures are one of the most significant fleet costs. It’s easy to ignore this and let it take care of itself, but you’re wasting a lot of money if you do. Poor maintenance can degrade fuel efficiency, and driving behaviors like speeding have a similar effect. Instead, use a good fleet management program to maximize miles per gallon. You’ll want to know when trucks are speeding, idling, or driving aggressively. You’ll also want to stay ahead of maintenance to ensure you get the best mileage possible for each fill-up. You’re sure to see the difference in your fleet’s budget.
- Monitor Fleet Data and Metrics – Your fleet management software will give you a lot of data about how and where your vehicles operate. It’s essential to keep on top of these valuable metrics to ensure your fleet is performing at peak efficiency. In some cases, it’s easy to become overwhelmed by excessive reports that may or may not benefit your fleet’s management. Big data and analytics are incredibly useful, but only to the extent that they’re understood and applied. Look for a fleet management program that allows you to customize your reports to see only the data you can actually use. And your provider should be available to help you translate all those reports into actionable information. Then, continue to monitor your fleet’s metrics and make adjustments when they will benefit your operation.
- Keep up With Compliance Requirements – Every year seems to bring new compliance issues that fleets must address. The ELD Mandate and other laws monitored by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration are crucial to keeping your fleet on the road. You’ll also need to stay on top of state and local regulations for any locations your fleet services. Again, a sound fleet management software system can help you stay on top of these essential compliance requirements. Most programs can automate reporting and help you stay ahead of requirements. You’ll be able to meet standards with minimal fuss. Keep your fleet management program current, or you may miss significant changes.
Vehicle Fleet Management Best Practices
Use of Technology
Fleet tracking is one of the most invaluable tools at a fleet manager’s disposal. Almost every fleet today is taking advantage of fleet tracking, and why shouldn’t they? Knowing where your vehicles are at any given moment is immensely useful. Fleet tracking benefits your business across the board; it increases safety, optimizes dispatching, and helps you keep track of jobs efficiently. With fleet tracking enabled, you prevent thousands of wasted dollars and hours of lost time.
Efficient Route Planning
Route optimization falls under the umbrella of tracking, but it is an essential component on its own. It is a feature of fleet management software that uses algorithms and machine learning to create a path to your destination in the most efficient way possible, avoiding delays that may waste fuel and time. You take time to plan your schedules, so don’t let unexpected delays wreck all your hard work. Check out Azuga’s state-of-the-art route planning software: Azuga Routes.
Fleet management software isn’t just for efficiency; it’s also meant to keep your drivers safe. It harnesses the power of telematics to track unsafe driving behaviors like hard braking, rapid acceleration, speeding, or swerving. Then, it alerts drivers and managers to fix the behavior in real time. Of course, every fleet is looking for ways to prevent accidents, and fleet management software is one of the most important steps you can take. Preventing accidents keeps your drivers safe and saves your business time and money.
If you’re not currently getting the most out of your assets, an asset tracker may benefit you. You may think of an asset tracker as a tool for preventing theft, but it is much more than that. You can use an asset tracker to ensure that you use your assets in the most effective way possible. Asset tracking tells you where your assets are and when they run or stop. This means you know how frequently they are used and if they are genuinely needed where they are. Furthermore, you always know how many assets you have on hand, so you never end up buying duplicates or not having enough.
Invoicing can be difficult for businesses, depending on the type of projects you complete. Mistakes in tracking payments or invoices can lead to disputes, which cost time and money. Luckily, fleet management software can mitigate this problem. You’ll have all of the data necessary to ensure you can resolve any invoicing dispute quickly. Furthermore, you know the hours your workers were on site with your equipment running, so if a client disputes the hours you bill, you have this information available.
Monitoring Fuel Consumption
Fleet businesses know better than anyone that fuel costs are any fleet’s highest budget line. These costs can make up to 40% of a fleet’s budget. Of course, you need fuel to operate your business, so the name of the game is to reduce these costs wherever possible. How can fleet management software help you accomplish this?
A significant role that this software plays is in streamlining your dispatching process. Route optimization software is an integral tool for saving on fuel costs. This tool uses algorithms and machine learning to help you find the best, most fuel-efficient path from Point A to Point B. This means no sitting in traffic, navigating around construction sites, or wasting time in similar delays. The goal is to curb idling, which is a massive fuel waster.
Tracking driver behavior with fleet management software can also help you save money on fuel. The behavior you have to look out for is speeding. The wind resistance created when your drivers speed leads to wasted fuel. Telematics tells your software when speeding occurs, and the software can generate reports that alert management to bad habits. With this information, it’s easy to reduce your fuel costs significantly.
Regular Vehicle Maintenance
Regular maintenance is essential for ensuring the proper operation of your fleet. Preventative maintenance is a primary focus for a great fleet manager. Performing maintenance on vehicles before they break down saves your business time, money, and loyal customers.
Data Analysis and Reporting
Fleet management software provides you with so much data that it can be overwhelming. A fleet manager’s job is to take this data and make it actionable and useful to your fleet. The data you collect should include information relating to safety, vehicle health, vehicle location, maintenance needs, and more. Consider your fleet’s needs before making a selection.
When insurance providers determine your premiums, they consider how much risk your fleet presents. Vehicle accidents are expensive; look at this breakdown of accident costs and see for yourself:
Average cost without injuries: $16,500
Average cost with injuries: $74,000
Average cost with fatalities: *$500,000
Insurance providers don’t want to cover you if your drivers behave recklessly or aggressively. Fleet managers can lower insurance premiums by implementing fleet management software. Simply installing fleet management software is enough to prove to many providers that your fleet is making an effort to prioritize safety. If not, you can gather reports over any period and show your drivers’ excellent behavior on the road. With this data in hand, insurers will often offer insurance discounts.
You’re likely familiar with the Department of Transportation’s regulations, particularly regarding ELDs. All vehicles must have these devices to keep drivers safe by recording their hours. ELDs and fleet management software automate the hours-logging process, eliminating any chance of error. They also ensure that you always have your records on hand when the DOT does an audit.
Obtain more fleet management tips by reading the article below:
Top 10 Fleet Management Tips for Fleets of Any Size – Apr. 22nd, 2020
This article offers valuable insights for effective vehicle fleet management, emphasizing the importance of regular maintenance, utilizing telematics technology for real-time monitoring, and optimizing routes to reduce costs and enhance operational efficiency. It also underscores the significance of driver training, data-driven decision-making, and embracing sustainable practices to streamline fleet operations and achieve long-term success.
What to Look for in Fleet Management Software
Ease of Use
The whole point of fleet management software is to save time. If you spend more time installing it or getting over the learning curve, the investment may not be worth it. That’s why you should look for a solution that’s intuitive and easy to install so you can access any information you need.
A good fleet manager uses multiple systems to get a comprehensive view of everything going on with the business. Ensure your fleet management software can integrate easily with third-party tools for invoicing, payroll, HR software, and more. Integrations can provide a consolidated view of any data relevant to your fleet operations, giving you more visibility and control.
Fleet management software provides you with so much data that it can be overwhelming. Your solution should help you easily interpret that data to make it actionable and useful to your fleet. The data you collect should include information relating to safety, vehicle health, vehicle location, maintenance needs, and more. Consider your fleet’s needs before making a selection.
Mobile App for Drivers
Your drivers are always on the go but need access to the information they need at any time. That’s why management solutions that offer mobile apps significantly improve your fleet’s efficiency and communication. Drivers will always be in the loop, and you won’t have to make constant phone calls or text message updates.
Select the Best Fleet Management Software
Azuga’s top-tier fleet management software offers all the benefits mentioned in this article and far more. We have worked with fleets of all shapes and sizes to achieve various goals. Whether your focus is safety, maintenance, asset tracking, or something else, we can help you get where you want to go. Schedule a demo with one of our experts to see how we can work together!
Check out these articles to learn more about what Azuga has to offer!
6 Reasons Outsourcing Fleet Management is the Right Move – Jun. 29th, 2020
This article discusses the benefits of outsourcing fleet management, highlighting how it can reduce operational complexities and costs while allowing businesses to focus on their core competencies. It also emphasizes the importance of selecting the right outsourcing partner and maintaining open communication to ensure a successful and efficient fleet management strategy.
What Metrics Should a Company Use to Evaluate Fleet Performance? – Jul. 14th, 2021
This article outlines key fleet management metrics for optimizing operational performance, emphasizing the significance of tracking metrics like fuel efficiency, maintenance costs, and vehicle utilization to enhance overall fleet productivity. It underscores how data-driven analysis of these metrics can guide informed decision-making and lead to more efficient resource allocation and improved fleet management strategies.
How Does IoT Help With Fleet Management? – May 12th, 2020
This blog discusses the role of IoT (Internet of Things) in fleet management, highlighting how IoT technology enables real-time monitoring of vehicles, enhances safety through predictive maintenance, and provides valuable insights into driver behavior and performance, ultimately leading to improved operational efficiency and cost savings. It emphasizes the integration of IoT devices, data analytics, and telematics solutions as a powerful means to optimize fleet operations and streamline management processes.