How to Determine if a Fleet Management Company Is Right for You

< Back to Glossary

Introduction

Medium to large businesses have the potential to reap massive benefits from working with reputable fleet management companies (FMCs). As a fleet owner, understanding what to expect from organized management is the first step towards enjoying optimum benefits. Each FMC is unique from the other, and understanding their offerings should guide you to choose the best one.

What are Fleet Management Companies?

Fleet management companies oversee a host of essential tasks on behalf of a commercial fleet. They handle fleet maintenance and general performance to improve business productivity, work towards fleet safety, and minimize operating costs.

Truck fleet management is a process that takes a hands-on administrative approach, enabling companies to work with fleet vehicles to increase efficiency, reduce costs, and ensure full compliance with government regulations. Fleet management also helps with tracking mechanical diagnostics and monitoring driver behavior. Special fleet management software makes it possible for FMCs to track vehicles from a central point, but essentially, it helps to ensure proper vehicle use.

Determining the Right Fleet Management Company – Key Benefits to Guide You

A committed FMC takes company priorities seriously and takes good care of your fleet. Look for a company with the sole goal of improving the efficiency and performance of your business. Every fleet owner draws a list of priorities. Some intend to reduce their cost of ownership or fuel costs, while others want more efficient fleets or both. It is the responsibility of fleet management companies to identify the most strategic solutions for client needs.

Does Your FMC Reduce Costs?

The purchasing price of a vehicle is often seen as a good deal, but in reality, you are always paying extra for the dealer to earn some commission. But how can a fleet management company ensure you get the best deal? Existing relationships with manufacturers and dealerships ensure brokerage fees are minimized, resulting in lower vehicle purchase costs, and ultimately much lower total ownership costs.

That’s not all – a good fleet management company can save you money on fuel and fleet maintenance costs, as well as other expenses related to running your fleet. Reducing your total ownership cost allows you to direct your money to other equally important budget items.

Does Your FMC Provide Efficient Management and Support?

Handling fuel costs, upgrades, and general maintenance can take a lot of time if you manage your fleet on your own. Getting overwhelmed means the job won’t be done satisfactorily.

Delegating those duties to fleet management companies comes with huge benefits to the company. First, it frees up the person or team previously responsible for fleet management, allowing them to dedicate their energy to other areas.

Secondly, fleet management companies are afforded the platform to implement unique solutions for business. For instance, companies without proper tracking for fuel and other service fleet costs can benefit from innovative solutions only available from these companies.

How to Choose the Right Fleet Management Company

There are several aspects that businesses should look for when sourcing the ultimate fleet management company. Below, we take a comprehensive look at the qualities to consider when choosing the right partners, and the criteria to use.

The Ideal Fleet Management Company Must Be Flexible

Fleet management companies operate differently, and while some might be open to making changes in their operations to incorporate varying customer needs, others are too rigid. Clients need partners who are flexible and willing to listen to their preferences.

Flexibility could also mean the ability to respond to emergencies quickly. For example, in the event of a roadside emergency, clients need to know that their FMC has someone working to get the vehicle back on the road.

To help you identify a flexible fleet management company, ask the following questions:

  • What process do they use to deal with unexpected issues for clients?
  • What communication medium do they use to communicate with their clients regularly?
  • How do they deal with complex client requests?

The Ideal Fleet Management Company Has Expertise with Your Business Type

Truck fleet management is a broad industry, and not every FMC will be able to meet your needs. Some specialize in areas that do not match yours, and they may not be the ideal partners for your type of business. A company that primarily works with long-haul fleets won’t be a good choice for a local service business and vice versa.

Seek answers from the start. Ask the sales representative about their area of expertise and talk with them about what you do. Some of the standing principles of fleet management are consistent across industries, but understanding specific industry needs and trends gives FMCs an edge in terms of reducing operating costs.

During your first interaction with the FMC sales representative, ask the following questions to determine their understanding of your specific industry:

  • Do they have experience dealing with fleets in your industry?
  • Ask for case studies to show their experience and success in fleet management in your specific industry.
  • Request referrals or testimonials from previous clients in your industry.

The Ideal FMC Values Client Relationships

Most businesses are apprehensive about handing over control of their fleet. There is always the doubt that the FMC you approach may not quite be up to the task, and would not be able to fulfill their promises.

To that effect, establishing a strong client-FMC relationship – by checking in regularly, following through on promises, and ensuring that the client is content with how their fleet is managed – is an essential quality of a good fleet management company.

To help you determine the kind of client relationship to expect, here are important questions you must find out:

  • How they would describe their relationship with their clients.
  • What a client would tell a colleague regarding the relationship they have with them.
  • How they determine whether a client is content or unhappy with their services.

Customer service is paramount in successful fleet management, and your FMC should be willing to train your team on how to use their GPS fleet tracking platform.

Potential Pitfalls of Outsourcing Fleet Management

We discussed some of the benefits above, but it wouldn’t be fair to skip over the very real negatives of using a fleet management company. 

The main one to watch for is the lack of integration within your firm. The drivers communicate with each other in a certain way and have camaraderie. Having outsiders manage them may cause social friction, and there are some insights that won’t be picked up from the outside.

Additionally, there are considerable benefits to having someone in-house that knows how your company works. When new deals come through or there are changes happening in processes within your company, this person will be able to observe and react, rather than waiting to be updated as a fleet management company would. 

The final problem is the lack of accountability that fleet management companies have. An in-house operator feels more obligation to do a great job and will pay more attention to risk and costs. This is in sharp contrast to someone who doesn’t know your team and likely has several other fleet clients to juggle. 

Azuga – The Ultimate Solution for Fleet Management Companies

Azuga offers plenty of fleet management solutions, all of which use technology to facilitate more efficient operations. These products include fleet and asset tracking.

With Azuga GPS fleet tracking software, fleet managers can easily track their vehicles wherever they are. Also, they collect valuable data through special vehicle diagnostics that make maintenance and reporting easily manageable. The devices collect data every step of the way, including driver actions and alerts, which enhance driver efficiency and road safety.

Conclusion

Finding the right fleet management company that is flexible to your specific needs is a massive step in your business. A company that shares your business goals and invests its energy and resources to help you achieve them is what you should look for, no matter how much time you spend. Profitability is not everything without the peace of mind to deliberate on other essential aspects of a business.

< Back to Glossary

What is an Enterprise Fleet?

If you utilize company vehicles during the course of business, you might want to familiarize yourself with enterprise fleet management and maintenance. Operating a fleet can be a challenge. Luckily there are things that you can do to make your life a lot easier. In this article, we will answer what is an enterprise fleet? Plus, we’ll outline four key tips you should know about enterprise fleet management and an additional three tips about enterprise fleet maintenance.

What is an Enterprise Fleet?

An enterprise fleet, simply put, is a fleet of vehicles leased or owned by a business. Automotive Fleet Magazine defines enterprise fleets as commercial entities with 15 or greater vehicles. A wide range of businesses operate enterprise fleets. For example, delivery businesses and many businesses who do on-site service calls or have representatives travel to meet with clients have enterprise fleets.

The enterprise fleet industry is huge in the United States. Automotive Magazine recently released a report that outlines the number of cars and trucks that are leased or owned by enterprise fleets in the United States. Fleets in the U.S. leased 431,000 vehicles last year and owned 204,000 vehicles. There are a total of 727,000 trucks being leased by enterprise fleets and 1,860,000 trucks are owned by them.

In some areas, enterprise fleets are also made up of vehicles that are privately owned (or leased) by employees but used for business purposes. These are known as “grey fleet” vehicles. 

Tips on Enterprise Fleet Management

Enterprise fleet management can be a challenge. It’s a fast-paced job that requires you to stay on your toes. Fleet managers are often responsible for drivers and accountable to management. Below are four tips on how to excel in enterprise fleet management:

1. Create Instructions for Enterprise Fleet Vehicle Acquisition and Disposal

When a business lacks purchasing and disposal guidelines for fleet vehicles they may be giving up thousands of dollars through inefficiencies. Consistency is very important in enterprise fleet management.

Your company should look into bulk purchasing and understand the right time or number of miles at which to best sell a vehicle. Enterprise fleet managers should spec out options for fleet vehicles and assemble a purchasing plan. In addition, they should gain insight into the optimal time to dispose of fleet vehicles.

2. Be Proactive When it Comes to Safety

Fleet drivers face a whole host of distractions and safety hazards on the job. Great fleet managers know how to get ahead of things that might become problems. Invest in safety before accidents happen.

Investing in safety may look like hands-free devices for your drivers, installing an app that monitors driver behavior on their phones, or an in-cab camera that oversees drivers while they’re on the road. Ultimately, being proactive about safety will save your company money in the long run.

3. Set Performance Goals for Drivers

Many fleet managers find it useful to incentivize drivers to perform well. Drivers may be encouraged to achieve higher fuel efficiency or perform vehicle inspections regularly. No matter what goal you set, you should hold your drivers to a high-performance standard.

Driver behavior monitoring makes it simple to set goals and encourage safe driving habits. Actionable goals help managers encourage drivers to improve their driving habits. 

4. Continually Educate Yourself on the Enterprise Fleet Industry 

The best fleet managers know that the fleet industry is constantly changing and it's vital that managers keep up. Top fleet managers join industry associations, read trade publications and blogs, and overall keep up with what is happening in the industry.

Often fleet managers will discover new technologies to adopt when reading up on the fleet industry. This helps them keep ahead of the competition. With so much information readily available online, it’s never been easier for fleet managers to keep up-to-date and ahead of the curve.

Tips on Enterprise Fleet Maintenance

Fleet maintenance is integral to running a top-performing enterprise fleet. Here are three tips on how to excel at enterprise fleet maintenance:

1. Know Your Total Cost of Ownership

Pay attention to your maintenance costs and make note when they start to rise because of a vehicle’s age. Make sure you comprehend the warranty coverage provided by the manufacturer and the way it impacts the vehicle’s total cost of ownership. Those who excel at enterprise fleet management understand trends in the used vehicle market, the residual value of fleet vehicles, and the best time to sell fleet vehicles to obtain a cost-effective enterprise fleet.

2. Properly Spec Fleet Vehicles

A vital part of fleet maintenance is performing specs on vehicles. It’s important that this job is performed well. You should be aware of the demands your fleet vehicles will face. Make sure to outline vehicle usage.

The danger is that under-specing a fleet vehicle can lead to maintenance issues down the line that could put a dent in your budget. On the other hand, an over-spec’d fleet vehicle can also increase costs. Great fleet managers know the criteria involved with specing (operating conditions, what’s being carried, usage, etc.) and try to make theirs as accurate as possible.

3. Perform Preventative Maintenance

One of the most important things to understand about enterprise fleet maintenance is the cost savings involved in preventative maintenance. Well-maintained fleet vehicles are less likely to require unscheduled downtime or repairs. Some examples of preventative maintenance are general vehicle safety checks, oil changes, and tire rotation, and inspection. Make sure to perform these activities on a regular schedule.


Good enterprise fleet management practices help leaders in the fleet management industry achieve more. Take your fleet to the next level when you implement smart technology like Azuga Fleet™. The Azuga team is here to help boost your fleet’s productivity, improve safety, and save you hundreds each year. 

Read More

OBD-II Port

If you’re a fleet owner, fleet manager, or even fleet driver, you should know about the OBD-II port. It’s a standardized diagnostic port that allows you to access data from the computer in a vehicle’s engine. GPS trackers can be installed in a vehicle’s OBD-II port to provide live engine and trip data to a central hub or the driver.

In this article we will outline the basics of OBD-II ports, the history of the OBD-II port, and detailed specs on the OBD-II port pinout. Vehicles are integral to fleets and understanding the OBD-II port is essential to getting the most out of yours.

What is OBD-II Port?

So what exactly is the OBD-II port? To start out let’s break down the abbreviation. “OBD” stands for “on-board diagnostics.” It refers to the vehicle’s electronic system that provides self-diagnostics and reporting features. This system is used by repair technicians to gain access to subsystem information in order to monitor the vehicle’s performance and properly repair it.

On-board diagnostics (OBD) is the uniform protocol that is used in most light-duty vehicles in order to access the vehicle’s diagnostic information. This information is produced by the vehicle’s engine control unit (ECU, also known as the engine control module). The engine control unit acts as the “brain” of the vehicle.

A vehicle’s OBD-II is a computer that monitors mileage, emissions, speed, and additional data about the vehicle. It’s connected to the vehicle’s dashboard and will alert the driver if any issues are detected (by turning on the check engine light for example).

The OBD-II port is accessible from inside the vehicle. It will generally be located under the dash on the driver’s side. It enables a mechanic (or anyone else with a specialized tool) to read the error code generated by the engine. Looking to install GPS trackers in your fleet vehicles? Check out our comprehensive guide to learn more about where these devices are installed.

History Behind the OBD-II Diagnostic Port

Early Years of On-Board Diagnostics

The origins of the OBD-II port began in the 1960s. Some of the organizations involved in the preliminary framework for the standard were the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE), the California Air Resources Board, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the International Organization for Standardization.

The first on-board diagnostics system that had the capacity to be scanned to check for issues with the vehicle’s engine was introduced by Volkswagen in 1968. Over ten years later, Datsun released a very basic on-board diagnostics system. Jump forward to 1980, when General Motors revealed a proprietary system including interface and protocol that was able to generate engine diagnostics and alert the driver via a check engine light. At the same time, other car manufacturers were introducing their own versions of on-board diagnostics.

Up until this time, before standardization hit the industry, manufacturers created their own proprietary systems. This meant the tools required to diagnose different vehicle’s engines were all different. They had their own connector type, requirements for electronic interface, and each used custom codes for reporting problems.

OBD-II Diagnostic Port Standardization 

Standardization finally came to on-board diagnostics in the late 1980s. In 1988 the Society of Automotive Engineers released a recommendation that called for a standard connector pin and set of diagnostics across the industry.

In 1991 the state of California mandated that all vehicles have some form of basic on-board diagnostics. This is known as OBD-I, a precursor to the OBD-II port.

OBD-II was created three years later, in 1994. In that year California required all vehicles sold (starting in 1996) to have on-board diagnostics as recommended by SAE. This is known as OBD-II. California introduced the legislation primarily in order to perform across-the-board emissions testing on vehicles. Due to California’s legislation, in 1996 car manufacturers started to install OBD-II ports in all cars and trucks across the country.

OBD-II introduced standardized diagnostic trouble codes (DTCs). There is a slight variation among OBD-II systems. These variations are known as protocols. They are specific to vehicle manufacturers and there are five basic signal protocols:

  • ISO14230-4 (KWP2000): Keyword Protocol
  • ISO9141-2: Used in all Chrysler vehicles
  • SAE J1850 VPW: Variable Pulse Width
  • SAE J1850 PWM: Pulse Width Modulation
  • ISO 15765 CAN: Controller Area Network (used in all vehicles made after 2008)

In-Depth: OBD-II Diagnostic Port

The OBD-II port pinout gives access to the engine’s status information and Diagnostic Trouble Codes. The DTCs cover a number of aspects of the vehicle including powertrain (engine and transmission) and emission control systems. The OBD-II pinout also provides further information including the vehicle identification number (VIN), Calibration Identification Number, ignition counter, and emissions control system counters.

These DTCs are stored in a computer system. It’s important to note that these codes vary between manufacturers. There are trouble codes for a wide range of aspects of the vehicle including powertrain (including engine, transmission, emissions), chassis, body, and network. The list of standard diagnostic trouble codes is extensive.

If a fleet vehicle is brought to a shop to be serviced, the mechanic can connect to the vehicle’s OBD-II port pinout with a standardized scanning tool to read the error codes and identify the issue. The OBD-II port lets mechanics accurately diagnose issues with your fleet’s vehicles, inspect them promptly, and fix any issues before they become major problems. Ultimately the OBD-II port helps get your fleet vehicles back on the road faster and stay there longer.

Detailed Look: OBD-II Port Pinout

Any OBD-II scan tool can read DTCs due to the standardized pinout. Scanning tools have the capacity to read from any of the 5 protocols. The standardized OBD-II port pinout is as follows:

Pin 1: Utilized by manufacturer

Pin 2: Utilized by SAE J1850 PWM and VPW

Pin 3: Utilized by manufacturer

Pin 4: Ground

Pin 5: Ground

Pin 6: Utilized by ISO 15765-4 CAN

Pin 7: ISO 14230-4 and The K-Line of ISO 9141-2

Pin 10: Utilized solely by SAE J1850 PWM

Pin 14: Utilized by ISO 15765-4 CAN

Pin 15: ISO 14230-4 and the K-Line of ISO 9141-2

Pin 16: Power from the vehicle’s battery


Your fleet vehicle's OBD-II ports may be small but they can play a big role in helping your fleet succeed. To learn about what OBD-II ports can be used to help your fleet succeed check out Azuga Fleet. This smart fleet tracking software will allow you to take your company to the next level without the growing pains.

Read More

What is the ELD Mandate?

Fleet managers should be well aware of the electronic logging device (ELD) mandate. Non-compliance with ELD rules can cost your organization thousands or even hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines. Fleets that are still operating with automatic onboard recording devices (AOBRDs) need to be aware that their technology is outdated and should be upgraded to ELDs immediately to avoid penalties.

The use of ELDs is already widespread. According to a study by C.J. Driscoll & Associates, a consulting and market research firm, 3 million ELDs and ABORDs are currently being used by fleets in the United States.

In this article we will outline what an ELD is, explain the ELD mandate, and provide a timeline of ELD rule history. In addition, we will explain the hard deadlines for ELD compliance, highlight some of the latest news about the ELD mandate, and explain what fleet managers should know.

What is an ELD?

Electronic logging devices, also known by their acronym ELD, provide an accurate, streamlined method of recordkeeping for drivers and fleet operators. These records are often mandated by law. ELDs make the mandatory task of recording a daily logbook easier.

ELDs are connected directly to the vehicle’s engine. They provide stellar data for fleet managers to utilize. Data from ELDs is sent to a telematics system. Managers and office personnel can use this system to review hours of service (HOS) statuses, generate reports, and come up with optimized routes for drivers.

Electronic logging devices capture a wide range of information from the vehicle including date, time, vehicle identification, motor carrier identification, geographic location, miles traveled, engine power up and shutdown, yard moves, and engine diagnostics and malfunction data. ELDs also log information on the vehicle’s driver such as their logon/logoff, HOS, driver or authorized user identification, duty status changes, personal use, and certification of driver’s daily record.

ELDs record all of this data automatically. However, if there is an issue or omission, some entries can be manually edited by the driver or support staff. These edits are tracked and must be approved by the driver.

Organizations can utilize the data from ELDs to better understand which drivers need coaching, which routes are the most profitable, and which routes are the most expensive in terms of fuel consumption and time. HOS information, recorded by ELDs, can even be displayed in the cab. This allows the driver to monitor how many hours they have left and display the information easily to a roadside inspection.

What is the ELD Mandate?

The ELD mandate was created in 2012 when the United States Congress enacted the bill “Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century” (commonly known as MAP-21). This bill outlined criteria for highway funding but also contained a provision that mandated the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) to create a rule requiring the adoption and use of ELDs.

So why did the FMCSA implement the ELD mandate? According to the FMCSA “the rule is intended to help create a safer work environment for drivers, and make it easier and faster to accurately track, manage, and share RODS [Record of Duty Status] data.”

Timeline of the ELD Mandate

After being required by congress in the 2012 bill MAP-21, the FMCSA released a notice in March of 2014 that proposed creating amendments to its safety regulations to enact the ELD mandate. Comments for the proposed mandate were due by May of 2014.

The FMCSA finally published the ELD mandate in December of 2015. The mandate requires the use of ELDs for vehicles in the commercial bus and truck industries.

The first deadline laid out in the FMCSA’s ELD mandate was December 18, 2017. By this date, all drivers and carriers subject to the ELD mandate had to have either an ELD or an AOBRD installed in their vehicle.

ELD Mandate 2019: Deadline

According to the ELD mandate, AOBRDs could be used up until December 16, 2019 (as long as the device was installed before December 18, 2017). After this date, all drivers and carriers were required to use electronic logging devices.

2019 was the last year that drivers could use AOBRDs. If your fleet is still using them, it’s time to upgrade as soon as possible. The ELD mandates 2019 as the final deadline to switch.

ELD Mandate - Latest News

Much of the latest news about the ELD mandate has revolved around the December 2019 deadline to switch over from AOBRDs. Recently, Transport Topic noted that “motor carriers should not underestimate the amount of planning and training needed to ensure a smooth rollout [of ELD devices]”. This is according to a panel at the American Trucking Associations’ Management Conference & Exhibition in 2019.

FreightWaves reported that right up to the ELD Mandate 2019 deadline, adoption rates of ELD devices remained low. Many businesses were waiting until the last possible moment to switch over.

One of the most pertinent pieces of recent news comes again from Transport Topic, who reported that commercial vehicle inspectors are not offering a grace period of “soft enforcement” for truckers who have not switched to ELDs. At this point in time, if your fleet is operating without ELDs, you may face an out-of-service violation.

What Fleet Managers Should Know

The deadline to equip fleet vehicles with ELDs has long passed. If fleet managers want to avoid potential penalties or fines they should make sure their vehicles are all equipped with the necessary items. This includes a certified, registered, regulation-compliant ELD, an ELD user manual, an instruction sheet for reporting ELD malfunctions, and instructions for the data transfer mechanisms your ELD is capable of. Fines for non-compliance can be costly and total thousands of dollars.

Fleet managers should also be aware that ELDs are not allowed everywhere. There are certain areas that prohibit commercial vehicles from operating with an ELD including any U.S. government or government contractor facilities.


The ELD mandate is especially important for fleet managers to know and understand. The deadline to comply has long passed and fleet vehicles now must be equipped with ELDs. To learn more about this important mandate and optimizing your fleet, head to Azuga. The Azuga team is here to help boost productivity, optimize route planning, and so much more.

Read More