Velocitor Blog

Fleet Management for Beginners

chris goodnight - Monday, April 16, 2018

Consider this; recognized for your ability to multitask and plan, you’ve been given the responsibility of looking after the company vehicles, otherwise known as fleet management.

To get up to speed quickly on what’s required, you do a search and discover definitions regarding reducing the associated risks for companies relying on transportation in business, reducing vehicle costs, managing vehicle investment, improving productivity, and ensuring compliance. Does this help you? Probably not.

Put simply, fleet management is the optimization of costs, risks, and efficiency in fleet operations. Many organizations rely on fleet managers to control costs, maximize profitability, and mitigate risks of their fleet vehicles. Fleet managers touch many aspects of fleet operations, but fleet management can be summarized into five main fields:

  1. Operational Cost-Effectiveness
  2. Vehicle Maintenance
  3. Driver & Workforce Management
  4. Vehicle Safety & Compliance
  5. Operational Efficiency

You cannot think about improving one field without improving others. For example, you cannot think about vehicle maintenance without thinking about the total costs of maintaining a vehicle, to how a driver currently handles the vehicle, and to how vehicle safety can be improved (and thus reducing the number of accidents).

Whether you are a dedicated fleet manager or fleet management is an additional part of your role, first work out what you need most help with and then do some research.

  • Do you need someone to advise you on the areas you are not sure of, such as the driver risk assessments that will help you remain compliant?
  • Have you been tasked to reduce the costs per vehicle and need access to discounted servicing, breakdown and parts?
  • Is telematics a must-have in your battle to reduce fuel consumption and improve fleet safety?

Even if you are not sure exactly what you need to do and why, ask. A good fleet management company will take the time to explain what processes you need to go through and why.

Operational Cost-Effectiveness

Fleet managers must be able to eliminate any possibility for drivers to abuse company fuel spend. Some fleet management solutions integrate a company’s fleet fuel purchases and match it with real-time vehicle locations so fleet managers can verify fuel usage.
GPS tracking drastically reduces the number of stolen vehicles. And for many businesses, one stolen vehicle can mean at least $25,000 in loss profits. And if you’re a fleet manager operating on an enterprise-level with 400+ assets, the possibility of losing several trailers or assets can be absolutely devastating.

Vehicle Maintenance

When it comes to maintaining your vehicles, fleet management software can enable you to set up custom maintenance alerts for regular tire or engine checkups. And since most GPS devices are powered by the vehicle engines, they’ll also be able to detect when your vehicle engines have low battery. Rather than relying on employees who may or may not report any vehicle issues, you’ll be able to proactively take care of your vehicles before they unexpectedly break down and avoid costly down-time as a result.

Driver & Workforce Management

Vehicle idling is a driver behavior that costs the industry $20 billion in fuel costs each year. Fleet managers can reprimand drivers for idling, but have not been able to pinpoint when exactly drivers leave engines on unnecessarily. Fleet management software solves this dilemma by detecting when vehicles are running but stationary. With this software, fleet managers can draw up reports to see which vehicles are idling the most, so they can coach drivers to prevent their vehicle idling behaviors.

Unsafe driving behaviors (such as speeding, hard braking, or going off-route) increase a fleet’s insurance premium, waste gas, and quickly wear out vehicles. Fleet management software alerts you when your drivers are engaging in these types of behaviors. Fleet managers who notify their drivers that their driving behaviors are being tracked by GPS technology will also discourage risky driving.

Vehicle Safety & Compliance

In recent years, the FMCSA has grown tougher on large motor vehicle carrier rules and regulations. The CSA program’s overall goal is to reduce crashes and improve safety by assessing a motor carrier’s data on 7 fields: unsafe driving, vehicle maintenance, controlled substances, driver health, crash indicator, and hazardous materials compliance.

Fleet management software is able to increase overall safety and help fleet managers meet CSA standards through driver behavior reporting, vehicle maintenance, and hours of service logging.

Operational Efficiency

Perhaps one of the most important duties, operational efficiency involves moving products or services as quickly as possible to market vendors or customers. GPS vehicle tracking definitely helps when it comes to full vehicle and asset utilization.
For trailer businesses, that means being able to know exactly which trailers are loaded or unloaded, and if they are unloaded, knowing how to get those trailers loaded is important. For small to medium businesses, that may mean knowing which vehicles can service customers at the moment they become available.

There is one more thing to keep in mind when selecting a fleet management solution. Remember this is a service that you are going to be paying for, so customer service is key. When you call and talk to the person who picks up the phone consider if they are going to be the right company for your company, as they are going to be looking after your fleet vehicles, one of your biggest business assets.

For more information on our fleet management solutions, click here.