Fleet Management: Successful Operating Strategies

Fleet managers know that good command involves far more than operations. A fleet manager is in charge of every component of the fleet’s safe, successful, and cost-effective operation, and these are complicated priorities that grow in complexity as the fleet grows in size and scope.

As a fleet manager, you don’t have to face the job alone. Whether you operate a handful of trucks or a nationwide operation with dozens of locations, the right software helps you check all the boxes on your long list of responsibilities.

Instead of hiring more staff to do the same job, you can turn to data-driven technology to help you manage your fleet with less manpower. With the right tools and a robust system, fleet management is a job that can fall on just one or two individuals. Let’s break down what it takes to be an effective fleet manager and what good fleet management software can do for your business.

 

What is Professional Fleet Management?

Fleet management refers to the wide range of tasks and responsibilities associated with operating a fleet of vehicles and their drivers. Fleet management involves everything from scheduling routes and drivers to supervising compliance and controlling costs. Even for smaller fleets, this is an enormous responsibility for just one person.

Professional fleet management services help you run a tight ship by giving you greater visibility into fleet performance so you can increase productivity, reduce costs, and ensure the health and safety of your employees. As a fleet manager, tracking your employees and managing telematics is an intensive job. Consider working with fleet management companies who can support your business with fleet management software to improve operations for your entire fleet.

Why is Fleet Management Important for Your Business?

Your business needs a fleet manager who is sharp, attentive to details, and capable of tackling complex problems. However, even the most capable individual is still just one person, and they can only do so many things at the same time.

Even the best leaders get less productive the more they’re spread thin. But hiring more leadership is expensive, and too many managers can actually lead to a decline in productivity. As your operation (and thus your fleet) grows, you can save more time and money by turning to technology.

Fleet management is essential for anyone operating fleets of vehicles. Whether you’re in shipping, delivery, taxi, service, construction, or another industry, using your expensive resources and equipment efficiently is critical to controlling costs and ensuring the health and safety of your fleet. No matter the size of your fleet and no matter what line of work you’re in, fleet management software and technology can save you precious time and money to keep your company operating in the black.

What Does a Fleet Manager Do?

Fleet managers are in charge of practically every piece of the operations puzzle including personnel and safe vehicle management. A fleet manager has a stressful and complicated job where he’s responsible for other peoples’ jobs and their wellbeing.

A fleet manager is typically someone with a lot of driving experience and often has some level of formal education (you usually need a high school/GED or above). The manager oversees the day-to-day operations of each fleet vehicle and each driver, making sure that vehicles get where they need to be and they get there on time. This involves a heavy amount of planning and coordination.

A fleet manager is also typically responsible for keeping track of the operators in their fleets, ensuring they’re keeping their schedules, ensuring they’re performing their jobs correctly, and ensuring they’re operating in accordance with any laws applicable to their industry.

Here’s a breakdown of some of the most important key responsibilities a manager has.

Driver Acquisition

Sometimes, the fleet manager will be personally in charge of hiring new operators. Since the fleet manager is in charge of the driver, it makes sense for them to be in charge of acquiring new employees. This largely depends on the size and type of your operation, however. In larger companies, fleet leaders typically aren’t in charge of hiring new operators.

Driver Retention

Once a driver is hired, the fleet manager is one of their most important everyday contacts. As a result, it’s important for fleet managers to be able to foster close working relationships with their subordinates. This helps the manager trust that the subordinate will be motivated to do their job correctly and in a timely fashion.

Everyone wants to feel respected at work, and fleet managers are the bridge between the front line employees and upper management. Effective fleet management means making a great workplace for your employees, reducing turnover and keeping recruiting & labor costs as low as possible.

Vehicle Acquisition

Maintaining a fleet of commercial vehicles is no simple affair. Your service vehicles need to be kept in top condition at all times to ensure the optimal health and safety of the driver. Additionally, as your operation grows, you’ll need a continuing supply of commercial vehicles to put on the street.

Finding suitable vehicles for your operation is a part of life for a fleet manager. Vehicle acquisition is expensive and time-consuming, meaning any solutions that can save you money will make a difference.

Safety Training and Supervision

If you’re in charge of employees behind the wheel, you’re in charge of training and supervising the safe and correct operation of each vehicle at all times. Your company can suffer serious legal liability if a vehicle in your company causes property damage or injury, and as the fleet manager, it’s up to you to oversee this quintessential part of your business operations.

Good software can help you track your training efforts with each employee to ensure that you keep all your bases covered. It also helps you track your vehicle maintenance histories to be sure each vehicle is safe for the road.

ELD compliance

In commercial trucking, vehicles must be fitted with an electronic logging device (ELD) that tracks, manages, and shares driving records. These records, called hours of service (HOS), track the hours during which an operator is working to ensure that they’re given the appropriate amount of rest time on a given trip.

Failure to maintain proper ELD compliance is a fast route to fines and sanctions for your company. As a result, complying with local and federal regulations is a top priority. Your software can provide you the data you need about HOS records to improve your route optimization while staying compliant.

Cost Management

Controlling costs is a balancing act in fleet management. The more your operation grows, the more your costs grow. Tracking fuel consumption, vehicle maintenance, labor hours, and managing the logistics of it all is hard enough without trying to minimize the cost of all of it.

Managing fuel consumption is particularly tricky, as fuel costs are volatile, changing on a daily basis, and varying by region. Different vehicles and different loads carry different projected fuel costs. Solutions for cost management are complex and are almost impossible without modern fleet management software.

Fleet Operations & Tracking

All of these responsibilities ultimately facilitate the job of managing vehicle schedules and routes, then tracking vehicles and communicating with drivers out on the road. Depending on your industry, you may or may not have highly-targeted GPS tracking on each vehicle, and you may not always have communication with each operator. A fleet manager operates with the flexibility to manage each of these challenges to optimize the efficiency and performance of the fleet.

 

Fleet Management Software

There’s no shortage of logistics software on the market to help you manage your fleet’s resources. There is, however, a shortage of management tools that sufficiently provide the sophisticated array of needs a manager has in their daily fleet operations.

The best fleet management software should give you everything you need to have greater visibility into your operations from route optimization to fuel management. Here’s what you want to look for in your fleet management software to make sure it gives you the help you need.

Fleet Tracking

Having a tracking system that allows you to keep a close eye on your resources can improve your customer service and your operational efficiency. Information from a live tracking system gives you a close look at each asset out on the road to help you better make better use of your vehicles and plan more efficient routes.

Maintenance & Inventory

Your management system should show regular reporting of your inventory to ensure you always have the parts you need both for vehicle repairs and for your on-the-road technicians to do their jobs. Keeping your vehicles stocked and in good repair prevents unexpected holdups on the job site so you can keep unforeseen costs to a minimum. Your system should track:

Vehicles & Parts Information

For each vehicle in your arsenal, you should have reporting data available for you to see all parts you have in stock and all job resources. Each asset on the road should be accounted for, and inventory information should be kept up-to-date in the system on a regular basis.

Maintenance & Repair Schedules

You should be able to get regular reporting regarding each vehicle’s maintenance schedule and a full report of all repairs done. This information can help you replace trucks before they become too expensive to maintain. Keeping a tight record of this information may also protect your liability in the event of an accident.

Fuel Management

Careful fuel management can save you significant sums in the long run that have a big impact on your bottom line. Up-to-date fuel prices and fuel consumption information helps you control your costs in a powerful way. The best fleet management software will provide all the fuel data and up-to-the-minute information you need.

Driver Analytics

Improve your employee records with insights into operator productivity and security. Good software can provide you with more complete and comprehensive employee reporting to give you a better profile of each asset on your team and how you can support their growth.

Cost Control Analytics

Combine all of this important information into a budget analysis and get a complete picture of your revenues and expenditures. Get a better understanding of how your resources impact your bottom line so you can work to improve your budgetary efficiency and stretch your resources further.

Compliance Management

Nothing can crush your operation harder or faster than the government. Don’t expose yourself to the risk of fines or stop-work orders by slacking off with your compliance management. The best fleet management software will help you see the compliance reporting information you need to be sure you’re staying up-to-date with local and federal regulations no matter where your fleet is traveling around the country.

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