what is fleet management?

KEY TAKEAWAYS:

Fleet management refers to all actions that need to take place to keep a fleet running efficiently, on time, and within budget. It is the processes used by fleet managers to monitor fleet activities and make decisions about proper asset management, dispatch and routing, and vehicle acquisition and disposal. Fleet management helps to ensure that a fleet is meeting compliance requirements, continuously improving efficiencies, and reducing costs.

Speak to our experts and learn how telematics can help increase your fleet's efficiency, ensure compliance, reduce costs, and more.

industries:

Many industries utilize fleet management, including:

Public Transport

Oil and Gas

Security

Mining

Emergency Services

Governments

Construction

Utilities

Transport and Distribution

Rental and Leasing

Fast Moving Consumer Goods

Landscaping

Pest Control

Telecommunications

A fleet truck drives through a tunnel

What Does a Fleet Manager Do?

A fleet manager oversees all the movements and activities of a fleet's vehicles, working alongside the managers of other departments, to ensure deliveries and jobs are completed on time, drivers are being safe on the road, and everything is compliant with regulations. In addition, they also look at the big picture to determine how to improve fleet efficiencies and the business's bottom line.

REDUCE OVERALL FLEET COSTS
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.
TRACK VEHICLE MOVEMENTS
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.
PROTECT DRIVER SAFETY
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.
IMPROVE DRIVER RETENTION
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.
ACQUIRE APPROPRIATE VEHICLES
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.
COMPLY WITH REGULATIONS
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.

WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF USING A FLEET MANAGEMENT SYSTEM?

A fleet manager reviewing telematics reports on a tablet

These days, most fleet managers use a fleet management system to help increase visibility of fleet operations, improve efficiency and stay compliant with governmental and industry regulations (e.g., Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration). All this can also include tools for proactive vehicle maintenance, improving fleet safety, and automating and streamlining dispatching, to name just a few. Below are a few of the major benefits of using a fleet management system.

  • 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:

    • Locate trailers, trucks, and equipment in real-time.
    • Eliminate the need to contact drivers for status updates, ETAs, and job details.
    • Keep paperwork such as forms, fuel receipts, invoices, and proof of delivery all in one place.
    • Simplify HOS management, IFTA trips sheets and filing, and vehicle inspection reports.
  • In-cab visual and audible alerts allow you to communicate with your drivers in real-time whenever they engage in driving events, such as:

    • speeding or
    • harsh braking

    allowing them to self-correct and actively coach them on how they can improve the way they drive.

  • 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:

    • Know who your best and worst-performing drivers are.
    • Create a driver coaching program to immediately correct aggressive and dangerous driving.
    • Monitor driving history to track improvement and offer additional training if needed.
    • Use dashcam data to protect your business from litigation and exonerate drivers.
  • 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:

    • Optimize route planning with location data for on-time deliveries and service arrivals.
    • Provide ETAs that are more accurate with real-time tracking, so your customers know exactly when to expect your team.

WHY IS FLEET MANAGEMENT IMPORTANT?

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 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.

MAKE INFORMED CHOICES BASED ON DATA:

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 a 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.

Map marker symbols surround a smart phone, representing a fleet tracking app

WHAT ARE THE CHALLENGES FACED BY FLEET MANAGERS?

Managing commercial vehicles – whether five or 5,000 – is challenging on the best day. Add to the challenges you face every day, external influences 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.

  • FUEL MANAGEMENT

    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.

  • VEHICLE ACQUISITION

    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.

  • OPTIMIZE VEHICLE MAINTENANCE

    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.

  • MEETING COMPLIANCE REQUIREMENTS

    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

    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.

  • HEALTH AND SAFETY

    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.

  • FLEET MANAGEMENT SOFTWARE

    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.

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