Fleet management refers to the overall actions that take place to keep a fleet running efficiently, on time, and within budget. It can be defined as the processes used by fleet managers to monitor fleet activities and make decisions from asset management, dispatch and routing, and vehicle acquisition and disposal. It helps companies ensure compliance, improve efficiency, and reduce costs.
This fleet management definition applies to any organization that uses five or more vehicles. Many industries use fleet management, including:
Fleet managers oversee the fleet's vehicles, work with the managers of other departments to make sure deliveries and jobs are completed on time, and ensure driver safety and regulatory compliance. In addition, they look at the big picture to determine how to improve fleet efficiencies and improve the business' bottom line.
Fleet managers are expected to reduce the costs throughout the fleet, which means you need to identify and get rid of unnecessary expenses to make the fleet cost-efficient. Fuel, maintenance, and operational costs can quickly get out of control, so keeping on top of all your expenses is key. Whether it's developing a fuel efficiency program to combat fluctuating fuel prices or implementing asset tracking to reduce theft and misuse, it's your job to find cost-saving solutions that help your company increase productivity and profitability.
No matter the size of your fleet, whether it be 5 or 5,000 vehicles, tracking each location can be challenging. You need to know where all your vehicles are at any given moment. Keeping track of all assets and vehicles is challenging at best and a nightmare at worst. These days, fleet managers often rely on GPS tracking and telematics to locate their vehicles and get better insight into fleet operations.
Keeping your drivers safe is an important and challenging part of the job. It's often difficult to make sure they engage in safe driving behavior when you are miles away from them. Helpful tools such as dashcams and GPS tracking systems can give you real-time visibility and help you implement driver training programs and a safety culture for your fleet.
Increasing and stabilizing driver retention is a key goal for fleet managers. By developing coaching and training programs, improving workplace culture, and building trust between you and your drivers, you can find ways to improve driver retention.
One of the major responsibilities of fleet managers is acquiring fleet vehicles. You need to know when and how many to acquire at any given time. And you need to be sure you are getting the best vehicle for the job. Purchasing vehicles might seem pretty straightforward, but like many tasks for fleet management, this is not always the case. Understanding and forecasting the utilization of your fleet vehicles is a key element of developing a successful purchase strategy. A sound vehicle acquisition strategy depends on many factors, including vehicle class and lifecycle, as well as market timing.
Mandated by Congress, the ELD mandate went into effect in December 2017. This mandate requires commercial vehicle drivers to record Hours of Service (HOS) electronically. Over time, electronic logging will replace paper logging and reduce dangerous driving behavior caused by tired drivers. Fleet managers are responsible for implementing ELD compliant systems to make sure they can keep accurate records of drive times throughout their fleet.
A fleet manager's responsibilities are wide-ranging as they encompass almost every element of the fleet's operations.
These days, most fleet managers use a fleet management system to help improve the efficiency of and increase visibility into their operations as well as help them stay in compliance with Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and Department of Transportation (DOT) regulations. This can include proactive vehicle maintenance, improving fleet safety, and automating and streamlining dispatching, to name just a few benefits of a fleet management system. Below are a few of the major benefits of using a fleet management system.
Automating Manual Tasks – for a fleet manager, time is money. Fleet management software solutions can automate a lot of the tasks you're used to doing manually. By automating repetitive tasks, you can reduce your administrative burden, lower operating costs, and get time back to focus on growing the business. Fleet management solutions can help you:
Increase Profitability – businesses that depend on a mobile workforce generally have high capital expenses that can spiral out of control before you know it unless they are managed closely. With fleet management telematics software, you can reduce your fleet's costs and increase your profit margins. A fleet management solution can help you:
Improve Overall Fleet Safety – accidents are always a risk for businesses that depend on drivers and vehicles. Accidents can be a significant cost to your business, even more if there is an injury. And don't forget that your drivers represent your business, so overly aggressive and dangerous driving impacts your brand's reputation even if they don't get into an accident. Fleet management telematics can help you:
Improved customer service – your customers are your bread and butter. And in a competitive business, customer service can be your differentiator. Keeping a customer is less expensive than finding a new one, so making sure your customer service is top-notch is crucial to your success. Increasingly, fleet management telematics is being used to enhance the customer service experience. It can help you:
As fleets increasingly adopt technology to keep up with the competition in crowded industries, fleet managers are responsible for optimizing operations, coordinating systems, technologies, and employees. Fleet managers must balance tightening capacity and with increasing demand as well as deal with other challenges like driver shortages, fluctuating fuel prices, and changing industry regulations. Managing a fleet's daily tasks as well as keeping an eye on the big picture is necessary to keep the company running smoothly and profitably.
With fleet management solutions that give you second-by-second details about your vehicles' locations and jobs progress, you get access -- in one central platform -- to insights and data that can help you improve your fleet's operational processes. You get multiple data points from your telematics solution that let you leverage metrics, such as vehicle utilization, driver behavior, and idle times, giving you insight into your fleet's productivity.
You can then make informed changes to improve processes as issues arise, in real-time. As your fleet becomes more efficient, it is also becoming more cost-effective. And as you use the tools to identify and correct inefficiencies such as driver behavior that leads to above-average fuel use or excessive idling, you can see significant savings.
Safety is a priority for fleets, and so it is a priority for fleet managers. Fleet management telematics lets you effectively monitor aggressive and dangerous behaviors at the driver, vehicle, and fleet-wide level. This information can be used to create driver safety programs, and if you integrate dashcams and safety analytics technology, you can develop personalized training programs, giving your drivers coaching that hones in on their specific issues, creating a safer fleet.
Managing commercial vehicles – whether five or 5,000 – is challenging on the best day. Add to the challenges you face everyday external influences that you have little to no control over, such as changes in legislation, uncertainty in the car market, and costs that can spiral out of control. The job can often feel overwhelming. Here are some of the major challenges fleet managers face.
Probably one of the biggest challenges a fleet manager faces is always fluctuating fuel costs. These fluctuations in market price and other factors that influence prices are out of the control of fleet managers, but there are ways to reduce fuel consumption that can have an effect on fuel costs. Fleet managers need to evaluate options to see which ones deliver the most cost savings. With fleet management telematics, fleet managers can perform a cost-benefit analysis on fuel options and determine which is the best for your fleet. In addition, telematics can help you plan more efficient routes for your drivers so that they use less fuel.
Evaluating vehicle legislation changes, determining the suitability and purpose of vehicles, and negotiating deals are all challenges fleet managers must handle. Fuel usage, insurance costs, and taxes need to be considered when acquiring fleet vehicles. On top of these issues, fleet managers must consider the vehicle's lifecycle and its resell value, so it's easy to see how this becomes even more of a challenge.
Making sure vehicles are properly maintained is an ongoing task. Fleet managers need to make sure that preventative maintenance schedules are maintained. They need to develop maintenance strategies that ensure the fleet vehicles are in good working order so that their fleet runs efficiently without unexpected breakdowns that can cause lost work and reduce fleet efficiencies.
Fleet risk management and compliance are a challenge every fleet manager must face. Safety checks, maintenance records, and more all need to be documented so that a full trail of information will be available for audits and in the event that an insurance claim needs to be made. Vehicle legislation often changes, which means fleet managers need to know about these changes and how they impact fleet operations.
Controlling costs is challenging in any business, and fleet management is no different. Fleet managers need to analyze the relevant data about their fleet and find ways to improve efficiencies and costs. This can mean reviewing and reducing fuel consumption, reducing vehicle purchase costs, analyzing driver behavior, and achieving more for less. Telematics software can help fleet managers get the insight they need to face these challenges.
Unfortunately, accidents do happen, and if they do, it is the fleet manager's responsibility to make sure the appropriate action is taken. Robust reporting needs to be in place to help drivers handle the accident in accordance with insurance reporting procedures so that claims can be dealt with efficiently and quickly, and the necessary repair work can be done. Fleet managers are also responsible for developing and implementing health and safety policies as well as keeping driver training records up to date.
The role of fleet management software is evolving along with the role of fleet managers. Fleet management companies often use fleet management telematics to help reduce operational costs and increase fleet efficiencies. By lowering costs, generating revenue, and saving money, fleet management will continue to be integral to companies with fleets. And fleet management software will continue to help fleet managers deliver.