Business owners and fleet managers today are taxed with many challenges. They constantly need to think about which technologies and systems will give them the best oversight over their fleet, while also finding ways to reduce operational costs. But the good news is that finding a great fleet management software can help fleet managers reduce operational costs by leaps and bounds. In conjunction with using a good fleet management software, it’s important that fleet managers also follow best practices in order to meet their goals. Following fleet management best practices can result in minimized costs, unified operations, reduced labor, and higher levels of safety.
Fleet Manager Goals
Fleet managers are tasked with more than just looking after commercial vehicles. They are responsible for strategic planning and controlling fleet operations. Oftentimes, they are also responsible for keeping expenses down and finding ways to make operations more efficient. Some common goals for fleet managers include:
- Reduce operational costs
- Save time on the job
- Maintain compliance
- Follow regulations
- Facilitate field operations
- Keep drivers safe
In order to accomplish this, most fleet managers need to invest in a fleet tracking and management system. If you’re not already familiar, make sure to explore the benefits of using fleet management software at your business.
8 Best Practices for Fleet Management
In order for fleet managers to achieve their goals, they should use a combination of good technology and following best practices. For fleet tracking software to be the most effective it can be, business leaders need to plan ahead and be proactive. This will greatly improve business operations in the long run, expand the lifespan of commercial vehicles, and naturally reduce expenses.
1. Establish a system for compliance and following regulations
Every business is subject to following government rules and regulations pertaining to fleet operations. For instance, ELD is required for commercial vehicles as of 2016 to collect vehicle data, and there are other regulations that come along with this rule. Make sure to look into your specific industry’s compliance laws and regulations when it comes to operating commercial vehicles.
It’s very important to not only include ELD in your commercial vehicles, but come up with a robust system to ensure compliance and reduce risk. Have all of your proof of compliance documentation ready at all times, including licenses, certifications, registrations, insurance, driver’s logs, etc. It’s good to have both paper and electronic copies ready to show government agencies, just to be sure.
Set automatic notifications to remind you to renew any documentation prior to expiration dates. Additionally, hold trainings with drivers to ensure they are aware of compliance laws and regulations before they drive commercial vehicles.
2. Set up preventative maintenance notifications
The best way to protect the lifespan of your commercial vehicles is to stay on top of preventative maintenance and servicing. This can prevent you from dishing out tons of money on repairs down the road.
Fleet management software should allow you to set up automated reminders about the maintenance and service needs of each vehicle. Ideally, you will get the notification before the service due date so you can set up an appointment on time. Many types of fleet management software allow you to set up appointments instantly with the touch of a button. You can also reference each vehicle’s service history, recommended preventive services, and more.
3. Regularly monitor fuel efficiency, idling time, engine usage, and mileage
Fleet management technology provides you with actionable data about each of your vehicles thanks to telematics. As a fleet manager, paying attention to this data can help you detect patterns and trends that are healthy or unhealthy to your business operations.
On a regular basis, make sure to review data such as fuel efficiency or overuse, idling, engine usage, and mileage. If your drivers are using an exorbitant amount of fuel during their workdays, you will want to be alerted and correct the issue before it costs you tons of money down the road. You’ll also be able to improve miles-per-gallon to reduce fuel expenses by monitoring harsh accelerations, idling, and similar issues.
4. Optimize routes to save time on the job
Route optimization is a common tool included with fleet management systems. It helps you to better plan ahead to find the best routes to maximize profits during each trip.
Optimizing routes not only saves your drivers time (and labor costs on your end), but also finds ways to reduce fuel usage, cut delivery times, and accomplish more jobs in one day.
Ultimately, route optimization adds more revenue to your bottom line. So it’s a good idea to use this tool regularly for every job!
5. Set up training programs with all drivers
Make sure that drivers in addition to fleet managers are well aware of best practices for efficient fleet operations. Setting up expectations with drivers early on can prevent issues that you need to correct down the road.
As a fleet manager, it’s smart to establish Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s) for your company in terms of fleet operations. What are the most important drivers of success for your company? Then, review these goals with your drivers so that they can help you improve fleet operations in real time on the job.
Additionally, of course drivers need to practice safe driving habits while operating commercial vehicles. So be sure to review safety protocols with drivers during training sessions.
6. Set expectations for purchasing and replacing vehicles
Fleet managers should set goals and expectations for the lifespans of commercial vehicles. These expectations should align with the company’s financial goals, as purchasing vehicles is one of the highest investments for a fleet management system. Consider the following when setting goals for purchasing and replacing vehicles:
- How many years do you wish to use the vehicle? Align this goal with the vehicle’s daily, weekly, and annual mileage to maximize lifespan.
- What is your budget when replacing vehicles? When buying, look for manufacturers that will allow you a maximum resale value down the road.
- Is leasing an option for your business? If you decide to lease, make sure to align expectations and driver habits to make sure you do not owe money when your lease is up.
7. Explore back-end integrations to improve operations
Many types of fleet management software have back-end software integrations available. For instance, you can integrate the software with dispatching, accounting, payroll, CRM, location services, time and attendance systems, point of sale and other platforms.
Make your life easier by integrating your software so you can streamline data sources and avoid manual entry. For instance, your GPS fleet tracking software can produce data on a driver’s total hours driven, and that data can be automatically pushed to your payroll and time and attendance systems. Save yourself time and effort.
8. Pull reports and review metrics with your team periodically
Review data generated from fleet management software a weekly, monthly, or quarterly basis - but ideally all 3 - depending on your company’s goals. Look for patterns and areas to improve when pulling data.
- How can you reduce fuel costs over the next month, quarter or year?
- How can you better optimize routes to improve driving time and efficiency?
- Are there any areas of concern for driving behavior and safety?
- Have there been any trip concerns such as idling, over-acceleration, etc.?
Make sure to conduct a meeting to go over these items and discuss a game plan for moving forward.
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