Fleet management is an essential position in fleet companies, especially for those with a large mobile workforce. Smaller fleets can get away with the owner or a general manager making fleet management decisions. But if a fleet is planning for growth, as they should be, then fleet management is too much to take on without the proper expertise. This is where a fleet manager comes in. What is the role of a fleet manager?
If you’re growing your fleet and need a fleet manager, or you’re interested in becoming a fleet manager yourself, read on. Below, we discuss the challenges fleet managers face and the right skills they need to tackle these issues.
The Duties of Fleet Supervisor
Fleet management is more complex than it used to be due to technology and vehicle changes, as well as a shift towards a global economy. Fleets are now in competition with everyone around the world. And as more solutions appear, the job only gets harder. Today, fleet managers must contend with:
- New fuels and fuel regulations
- New regulations on hours of service and energy
- Different vehicle procurement methods
- Fleet telematics
Fleet telematics help to optimize a fleet, and if your company doesn’t have it, you’re competing against those that do. It’s necessary for businesses to thrive in today’s market. But while fleet telematics makes a fleet management job easier, it also changes the role tremendously. This is because it allows managers to monitor things they’ve never been able to before, such as:
- Fuel consumption
- Driver behavior
- Vehicle location
With a small fleet, it’s easier to attempt to monitor these things, but there was never a sure-fire way of knowing before telematics. Now that you have the ability to monitor these items, it’s a must. Other fleet controller duties include:
- Maintenance management
- Driver safety & risk management
- Driver retention
- Fleet tracking
- Vehicle acquisition
- Compliance assurance
- Cost reduction
The list of fleet manager duties and responsibilities is long and each process can be arduous. But these are essential functions of the role. Let’s dive into these functions and how telematics can help.
A fleet manager may not have to deal directly with maintenance issues, but a good fleet director should know what every vehicle needs. They should also know what the implications of those needs and repairs are, as well as how to schedule downtime. A fleet manager may need to reschedule jobs, shift technicians, or place a vehicle out of commission during off-hours for a smoother operation. This can be difficult, especially with a large fleet and a lot of other tasks on your plate. A telematics system can help by monitoring fleet diagnostics, sending alerts for vehicle issues, and scheduling maintenance and inspections. It can also help lower downtime by shifting schedules for you, automatically.
Driver safety should always be a concern for your fleet company. Not because of the costs of repairs, lawsuits, and injuries, but because of the risk of death to drivers. Your drivers are on the road about 60 hours each week, and this poses an exceptional risk. Before, the only way to ensure safety on the road was with better training and safety policies. Today, telematics gives you visibility into your fleet by monitoring vehicle diagnostic trouble codes and driver behavior such as speeding and hard braking. This helps you alter training and ensure your drivers are complying with fleet driver safety policies.
Fleets, especially long-haul fleets, have a reputation for high turnover rates. This is damaging for fleet companies since the average cost of turnover is around $8,000 per driver. To reduce turnover, you have to provide drivers with reasons to stay. This means greater safety measures, incentives for better driving, reduction of injury-causing accidents, providing more consistent hours, etc. Telematics systems help by increasing the safety of drivers with driver behavior monitoring. The system alerts drivers when they are speeding or approaching other limits. It can also streamline scheduling to ensure drivers aren’t working more than necessary and help regulate their hours. These simple changes can make a world of difference.
In the early days of fleet management, tracking your vehicles meant regular check-ins and knowledge of routes. Today, telematics makes it easy to know where your drivers are at all times, without distracting them with regular phone calls. No matter the size your fleet grows to, you’ll always know where your assets are.
Fleet managers must decide on the lifecycle of their vehicles. The longer you keep and use a vehicle, the more likely it is to break down and the more costly your repairs become—especially with the mileage fleets add to these vehicles. Most fleets keep a vehicle lifecycle of 3-4 years. Because of this, some fleets opt to lease vs buy fleet vehicles. Telematics ensures you stay up to date with vehicle recycling and helps to streamline your vehicle acquisition.
Compliance has always been something of a nuisance for fleets. This is why, in the early days of fleet management, records were often manipulated. In the past, these recorders were altered for fleets to more easily meet delivery times and avoid violation penalties. The adaptation of technology brought about the ELD mandate. This requires fleet companies to electronically record Hours of Service (HOS) to avoid overtime that may lead to accidents. Regulations also require fleet companies to store inspection reports for three months. Telematics makes it easy to comply by automatically storing all vehicle data, including HOS and inspections, in a centralized location.
Cost reduction is the goal for every fleet, and a priority for all fleet managers. But it can be difficult to stay on budget. Telematics helps reduce costs to your fleet by monitoring fuel consumption, integrating fuel cards, optimizing driver routes, and decreasing risk.
Fleet management is much more complicated today than it ever was, but telematics makes the job much easier. Learn the other benefits of telematics for fleet management at Azuga.