11 Biggest Productivity Challenges Fleet Managers Face
- Blog Author: Catherine Lewis
When it comes to successfully managing a fleet, efficient operation is at the heart of your job. However, many fleet managers find themselves buried in never-ending, time-consuming tasks that are inefficient, and worse, rarely improve their bottom line. While these tasks are necessary, when not handled efficiently, they can be costly long term.
And although these tasks are essential, handling them manually is the least efficient, most costly way to do them. That's where fleet management software and telematics comes in. The ability to automate certain tasks and track metrics for others makes managing the entire fleet more efficient.
Here are the top 11 productivity challenges fleet managers face and how fleet management telematics solutions can help them solve these fleet problems.
1) Time Spent on Administrative Tasks
Very few people love to do administrative tasks, and as a fleet manager, you probably don't either. Tasks such as quoting, invoicing, dispatching, keeping customers informed, scheduling fleet maintenance, and other tasks can eat up a lot of your time. This can contribute to other fleet management issues, including reduced productivity and less time to focus on revenue-generating tasks.
Paper-based systems also add an additional layer of administrative tasks to your day and keep you from handling other fleet problems. How much time did you waste the last time you had to rifle through papers to find a specific quote? How often have you missed service or repairs on your fleet vehicles because you didn't have time to schedule it? How much time do you spend finding the information you need to keep your customers updated on ETAs and other issues?
Spending your time on all of these tasks means that you spend less time on revenue-generating activities.
Replacing paper-based systems with an electronic system is an excellent first step to helping you complete administrative tasks in less time. In addition, it can reduce miscommunication issues and other human errors. But that's not all. Fleet telematics can also automate scheduling drivers, send maintenance reminders, and more.
2) Managing Fluctuating Fuel Costs
The price of fuel may be low now, but how long until it spikes up again? Even when prices are low, fuel is still a significant expense for your fleet. Fluctuating fuel prices make it difficult to accurately predict how much your fleet's fuel will cost in any given time period.
However, tracking fuel use, driver behavior, and idling time, can help you reduce how much fuel your fleet uses over time. Telematics fleet management software can help optimize your fleet's route so that they take the shortest routes with the least amount of idle time. Reducing driver behavior such as excess idling, speeding, and harsh braking can not only reduce fuel consumption but also reduce wear and tear on your vehicles. The software can track all of this so that you can pull a report and identify areas for improvement.
3) Vehicle Maintenance Costs
Regular and on-time vehicle maintenance is one of the biggest challenges faced by service managers. It also helps keep your fleet productive. Vehicles that are subject to unexpected breakdowns will cause delays and lost productivity. And vehicles that are not maintained regularly will incur excess wear and tear that create bigger, more expensive repairs in the long run.
Even something that seems as minor as not checking tire pressure can result in extra costs since loss of tire pressure can increase your fuel use over time. But keeping track of the maintenance schedule for your entire fleet can take up a lot of time – time you may not have when dealing with all the other priorities on your list.
A fleet management software that receives data directly from the engines of your fleet vehicles can save you time and money. You can automate preventive maintenance schedules so that you know when your vehicles are due in the shop. You can also set up alerts that let you know, based on metrics from their engines, when your fleet's vehicles need unexpected maintenance. You can set these reminders based on time, mileage, or hours of use. Monitoring and scheduling your maintenance in this way will save you money and keep your vehicles on the road.
4) Accurate Communications with Drivers
When your drivers are on the road, you can't call, text, or email them, so reaching them can be a challenge that affects your fleet's productivity. You may spend hours trying to get in touch with them without success. Miscommunication is common, and it often leads to schedules not being followed, resulting in lost productivity for drivers and fleet managers alike.
Fleet management telematics software can simplify and streamline how you manage your people on the road. Clear messages and orders can be sent to drivers, and vehicles can send automated location updates back to the office, so you'll know their status and estimated time of arrival (ETA).
These regular updates help keep you in touch with your drivers. They also help you respond quickly to unexpected events, avoiding major catastrophes, and provide a solution in real-time. You also get insights into how your fleet is performing and ways to improve if needed.
5) Managing Drivers
Driver productivity is another key challenge for fleet managers. Driver behavior and safety is an important concern. The cost of losing drivers is high and good drivers are an important asset to any fleet. Once you've incurred the cost of hiring and training a driver, you have a lot invested in them. This expense can be offset by their driving behavior and safety on the road.
Creating a driver safety program and ensuring it's adhered to will help keep excessive speeding, sudden braking, and accelerating in check. These behaviors are hard on fleet vehicles, causing excess wear and tear, while also hazardous to other drivers.
Ensuring your drivers are educated on good driving habits and stay abreast of road rules, and traffic regulations will help create a safety culture for your fleet. Excess vehicle idling is a common action that can result in excess fuel use and affect the engine's operation. Drivers need to be trained to avoid this and help keep costs down.
Monitoring and assessing your drivers' behavior with GPS tracking and telematics software lets you review your drivers' behavior and make decisions about how to retrain or help them follow safety standards. You can use the information from your software to gamify training and reward drivers for good behavior, which will help improve driver productivity.
6) Managing a Geographically Separated Team
A large commercial fleet often has vehicles spread out across a wide geographical area, across state lines, and sometimes international borders. In these instances, it is difficult to track all operations, locate drivers, and communicate with them remotely. Telematics software and GPS tracking offer solutions to these issues.
When your fleet vehicles are spread out across a large geographical area, you need to find them quickly and easily. Fleet management telematics lets you know exactly where your fleet is at any given moment. You can view the entire fleet or narrow it down to one vehicle. Not only can you find them fast, but you also get real-time information about their locations.
7) Asset Utilization
The bigger your fleet, the more assets you have, and the more they need to be managed and utilized. And the more headache that can cause you. Assets may disappear or not be fully utilized, causing your business to lose their investment in the items and to incur the additional cost of replacement.
Installing fleet management software can help you locate all your assets. You may find that some were sitting idle on a job site or in the yard without anyone realizing it. Maybe you needed the asset and already replaced it, or it's just been sitting idle, and you are still paying insurance and registration fees. GPS tracking ensures that all your vehicles are being utilized efficiently and that you know which ones aren't. You can use this information to make strategic purchasing decisions on when to acquire additional vehicles or other assets, what type you should get, and if you should liquidate existing assets you no longer need.
This information helps you reveal potential cost savings throughout the company to improve your bottom line.
8) Drowning in Data
The larger the fleet, the more data you have. But, even smaller fleets collect a lot of data that has to be managed and presented in such a way that you can use it to make strategic decisions. Regardless of the size of your fleet, it's a lot of information to review every day.
Luckily, fleet management software also provides the tools you need to cope with all this information. It filters out information you don't need and lets you focus on the information that matters. For instance, with real-time alerts, you get valuable insights into events that happened during your fleet every day. You don't need to spend time reviewing reports, you can handle issues as they occur.
Alerts can be customized and set up to track specific events or business rules, and if those rules are violated, you can get an email in real-time. You can access your information through a dashboard that lets you know how your fleet is performing and identify areas of concern.
But that doesn't mean you don't get useful reports. With robust reporting functionality, your fleet telematics solution gives you the option to pull reports that you can use to see trends and patterns at the driver and vehicle level. You can also get reports on fleet performance, fuel usage, and more. These solutions make the data collected easy to find and use.
9) Integrating Fleet Data with Existing Software Systems
Another challenge, especially for larger fleets and enterprises, is running many disparate software systems. To be useful, these systems need to function efficiently and harmoniously with each other. Software that doesn't easily integrate will result in lower productivity and data has to be entered into each system or manually transferred between applications.
Data integration can bring all information from all sources together into one single platform. This makes it easy to access the data you need. Learning to use one platform is easier than learning to use many different ones. It also makes it easier to do more with your data, increasing productivity and efficiency throughout your fleet.
10) Unauthorized Use of Fleet Assets
Unauthorized or misuse of your fleet's assets, including the use of vehicles outside of designated areas or outside of work hours, dangerous driving, and more, can cost your business money as well as potential liability risks.
Fleet management telematics software can help you monitor all company assets 24/7. You can track data such as vehicle location, speed, and usage as well as aggressive driving behavior such as swerving, severe braking, and hard acceleration. You can get alerts on your smartphone or tablet, so you know in real-time when these events have occurred.
This information can be collected and presented in reports or on a dashboard that shows aggressive and wasteful behaviors across the fleet. You can track your fleet's overall performance against key performance indicators (KPIs) that you define. You can then break the data down by teams or divisions to spot undesirable trends and make strategic decisions about how these issues can be addressed.
11) Providing Accurate ETAs
Your customers depend on you to be on time and communicate with them if something causes a delay. When you provide inaccurate arrival times, it can negatively impact your business's reputation. When customers start to think you are unreliable and can't be trusted, they will take their business elsewhere. While it may not be possible to give the exact time, customers expect to know within a pre-defined margin of error when to expect their delivery or service. And, if there is a delay, they expect to be notified with an updated ETA as soon as possible.
GPS fleet tracking and telematics can monitor traffic and help predict accurate ETAs for your customers. You can alert them to unexpected delays and schedule changes so that they know when to expect you and learn about any delays, or even if you might arrive early.
Fleet managers need to pay attention to many business management problems and solutions to keep their fleet productive and efficient. Telematics software provides the information and tools you need to face these challenges head-on.
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