Whether you have a few trucks in the field or hundreds of commercial vehicles in use, good fleet management is important. It can mean the difference between safety and a lack thereof; it can help support employee morale and increase your bottom line.
Good fleet management typically requires investing in software or other technology to get the job done. Find out more about fleet management and the technology you need to support it below.
What Is Fleet Management?
Fleet management is exactly what it sounds like: It’s the work involved in proactively managing a fleet of vehicles required to handle business tasks, whether that fleet is three trucks strong or 103.
Some activities involved in managing a fleet can include:
- Ensuring vehicles are well-maintained and safe
- Scheduling vehicles, drivers and crews so that everyone can get where they need to be with the right tools and equipment
- Managing fuel consumption and enacting measures to save money on fuel and other costs to run vehicles
- Ensuring drivers are adequately trained and certified (if applicable) to operate various vehicles
- Keeping records for insurance purposes
- Planning routes to optimize safety and efficiency
- Being a part of vehicle acquisition processes when necessary to supply the fleet
As you can see, managing a fleet doesn’t just mean managing the vehicles. Strong fleet management takes a holistic approach, incorporating oversight and proactive management of vehicles, tools, people and processes to ensure efficiency, safety and cost-effective operation.
What Is Fleet Management Software?
Fleet management software refers to technical tools that help you and your team accomplish all of the above tasks with greater efficiency and a lot less hassle. With the right program, you can automate many of the tasks involved in overseeing a fleet. This helps to empower employees in the office and the field to make good business and customer service decisions, protecting your assets and profits without making it impossible or extremely frustrating for everyone to do their jobs.
Benefits of Good Fleet Management
Managing a fleet can be a lot of work, but it also offers many benefits for companies of all sizes. Here are just a few advantages great fleet management can bring to your business.
Cost Savings and Control
As a business that relies heavily on vehicles, you know that a lot of your budget is tied up in fueling and maintaining those cars, trucks and vans. According to one study, fuel makes up around 40% of the costs associated with trucking fleets. Whether you’re dealing with delivery trucks or team vans to carry the necessary equipment to each job, commercial vehicles tend to consume a lot at the gas pump.
While you can’t rid yourself of those budget line items entirely, you can reduce and control costs with strong management processes. Ways fleet management and supporting software can help you control costs include:
- Tracking the use of vehicles (and fuel) so you can identify and address potential wasteful practices (i.e. unnecessary idle time)
- Optimizing routes to remove areas where regular traffic slowdowns or other obstacles increase fuel use
- Locating vehicles closest to unplanned calls to reduce travel time when routing drivers and teams
- Instituting and managing fuel and maintenance programs to ensure all vehicles are running as efficiently as possible
- Developing real-time processes that empower drivers and teams with the ability and knowledge to make fuel- and resource-saving decisions in the field or on the road
Better Risk Management
The savings don’t stop at the budget lines you plan for, either. The right fleet management software can also help you maintain compliance and support risk management.
For example, you can set up the software to notify you when someone has already logged a lot of driving time in a given week. That helps ensure you don’t schedule drivers who might be fatigued and more at risk for accidents. And if you’re in a regulated industry or situation, you can ensure everyone is flying under those requirements.
It goes beyond ensuring drivers aren’t falling asleep behind the wheel, though. Intelligent fleet management software also lets you:
- Understand where all your vehicles are in real-time
- Develop and implement fleet-related disaster plans to support business continuity given a variety of scenarios
- Actively manage routing to keep people and goods safer given weather updates, local news, and other factors
Increase Driver and Team Morale
Investing in these types of technologies helps show your teams and drivers that you care about them and their work. That alone can help increase morale. And when your employees are happier, your human resource management job is a lot easier.
Good fleet management — and the software that makes it possible — can also:
- Empower teams to make decisions that make their jobs easier
- Support the success of employees and teams so they can more easily grow with your company
- Provide additional communication and process guidance so teams members don’t have to rely on stressful second-guessing or get mired in miscommunication issues
Better Customer Service Management
Not just an important and effective way to improve efficiency and morale, fleet management software also helps you provide better customer service. When your teams get to jobs faster, work more efficiently, and are less stressed by vehicle or transport issues, they’re better able to meet customer-facing concerns with positive, friendly attitudes.
Steps for Choosing Fleet Management Software
How do you find a fleet management system that lets you enjoy some of these benefits? Follow the steps below.
- Define your current process and the desired future state. What’s happening with your fleet and employees now? Within those processes, what’s working and what could be improved? Can you see opportunities for improved efficiency, reduced errors, and time savings? Work with your team to determine how you want the process to look.
- Account for growth in the future. Once you have defined your desired process, ask yourself what it might need to look like if you add 10% more clients. What if you add 20% more? What if you double your client load? You need processes and technology that can scale to support your growth.
- Create two lists. One should have all the features that your fleet management software must-have. Not checking a box on this list means the software in question isn’t right for you. The second list should be other things that you desire from your fleet management software but that you don’t absolutely need — these are the “nice-to-haves.”
- Start looking for options. Look for software that checks all the must-have boxes and as many as the nice-to-haves as possible. Schedule demos for a couple of options that seem to meet those criteria.
- Take advantage of free demos and trials when possible. Seeing the software in action is important, but if you can play around with the technology yourself to get an understanding of how it feels to use it, that is ideal.
- Once you make a decision about particular software, work closely with the vendor’s implementation team to integrate it into your processes. Don’t skimp on or skip buy-in steps such as communicating about this new software to your employees and training. The more positive your employees are about a new technical change, the more likely it will be adopted as seamlessly and positively as possible.
Ready to try out a professional fleet management software option with plenty of features and benefits? Contact us to schedule a demo today.