Fleet management challenges present themselves in many forms. To keep pace with a constantly evolving industry, it's imperative fleet managers remain prepared with the best resources.
Tips to Combat Fleet Management Challenges
Being a fleet manager is often a thankless role, yet it's an essential function for organizations. The best way to overcome fleet management challenges is by leveraging technology such as software and mobile apps.
Fleet managers must maintain an efficient, safe and productive fleet. This includes managing maintenance, fuel consumption and other fleet expenses while ensuring drivers have the vehicles and equipment to fulfill tasks.
Sometimes, it's more about the resources you lack than those you possess. Three of the most important solutions fleet managers often need more of include visibility, automation and technology. In this post, we break down 10 ways you can overcome fleet management challenges.
1. Replace Antiquated Processes
We live and work in the digital age and your fleet solutions should be no different. When it comes to fleet management, the methods you choose to deploy will often dictate success.
For years, fleet managers relied on paper forms and invoices, complex spreadsheets and messy whiteboards to keep track of their fleet. You might even be using these today, but each of these presents a unique set of issues.
Paper processes like vehicle inspection forms take time to be hand-delivered by drivers and are susceptible to pencil-whipping and errors. Though spreadsheets hold value for certain aspects of fleet management, they can be cumbersome and inefficient when it comes to managing multiple data sets. Whiteboards are great for jotting things down and creating visual flow charts but aren't optimal for recoding and updating mass data.
These outdated measures aren't nearly as effective or efficient as software and mobile applications. A dependable fleet management software is also scalable, intuitive and delivers a return on your investment.
2. Add To Your Technology Toolbelt
Limited resources are a true hindrance to your ability to effectively manage your fleet. So, how can you defeat these fleet management challenges? You're only as good as the tools you have available.
You don't have to be Tim "The Toolman" Taylor of technology but pairing fleet technology with capable software is a great start. Software can be used as an essential database to store, securely access and analyze your fleet data. But the features don't end there. Some have the functionality to seamlessly integrate with other solutions you rely on.
For example, many organizations use fleet fuel cards for a variety of conveniences. Fuel cards make it easy to collect fuel consumption data instantly, instead of having to wait for drivers to submit or hand-deliver receipts — which can be easily lost or damaged. Fleetio integrates with many popular fleet fuel cards and transactions are automatically imported, so you can verify fuel spend for your entire fleet.
Trying to singlehandedly manage an entire fleet of assets without the help of technology will leave you frustrated, overcommitted and fighting an uphill battle. When you have the opportunity to enhance efficiencies and deliver peace of mind, take it!
3. Track Vehicles and Equipment
One of the best ways to gain visibility across your fleet is through GPS tracking or telematics devices. Tracking the location of your vehicles and equipment is a great way to check that your drivers are staying on their routes and remaining productive.
Telematics devices also integrate with certain fleet management software. Similar to fuel cards, data is transmitted instantly from the vehicle to your software dashboard. This enables you to control almost every aspect of your operation from a single platform.
In real time fleet managers can receive in odometer readings in real-time, monitor driver behavior and receive notifications when DTC fault codes are initiated. From there, you can take necessary action to address issues in real-time to avoid downtime.
4. Streamline Your Maintenance Process
Maintenance is essential to maximize the lifespan of your mobile assets and every fleet should have an understanding of how much they spend on it. With fleet management software, you can keep track of service history by line item for every mobile asset and develop reports to discover cost trends.
But monitoring your fleet's maintenance expenses isn't enough. Developing and carrying out preventive maintenance schedules is also critical to keep your assets functioning.
Service reminders can be configured based on the vehicle manufacturer's interval recommendations (mileage, km or time) or your preferred period of time elapsed between services. Notifications can be automated so you receive them directly into your inbox at the appropriate timeframe to take action and schedule maintenance.
5. Adhere to Budgets By Calculating the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO)
No matter what industry, your fleet must adhere to a budget. Capital limitations might restrain fleet managers, but if you know your numbers, you can still make cost-effective decisions.
Trying to navigate your budget and manage expenses can be a challenge, especially with so many variables to consider. To best address this, you must identify your mobile asset’s true TCO. A vehicle’s TCO is comprised of both fixed and variable costs.
Variable Costs include but aren't limited to:
- Parts and Labor
Fixed Costs include but aren't limited to:
- Taxes and Fees
- Loan/Lease Payments
Fleet management software can break down TCO to a cost per mile level, which is helpful to determine the efficiency of your vehicles and equipment. You can leverage the cost per mile of your mobile assets to help determine an optimal replacement strategy and get the most out of your investment.
6. Automate Data Entry and Reporting
With so many functions to manage, spending your days entering data is a poor use of your precious time. It's probably not possible to fully automate every piece of data you need, but with fleet management software, you can come close.
We've discussed how integrations can instantly pull in data and how software can automatically calculate expenses to determine ownership costs as a per vehicle basis. Reporting is another important feature to consider.
Once you've collected your data, you need a solution to organize and visualize your metrics in a concise and digestible manner. Configurable reports aggregate all of your metrics, making it easier to analyze and share those conclusions with other stakeholders (ie: your boss or owner). Reports can be generated with a few clicks and scheduled to deliver to your inbox.
7. Improve Communication to Avoid Bottlenecks
The overall impact of COVID-19 is still to be determined, but it has brought remote work to the forefront. Many fleet managers have had to adjust to working from home for the first time. It can be a challenge for some to remain focused amid a host of distractions.
Nonetheless, it's possible to succeed remotely, but the most important dynamic is communication. Your team is dispersed throughout the day and some oversee a fleet across multiple locations. You must provide means for your drivers to communicate issues with you in the most efficient manner.
Without question, your mobile phone will be an important tool to communicate. Be sure all of your drivers have your contact info and don't stray far from your device at all times of the workday. In addition, mobile apps provide a means to manage your fleet from anywhere while empowering your team to upload information instantaneously.
Even when you return to your traditional work environment, committing to overcommunicating will prevent miscommunication and improve workflows for both your team, service providers and vendors.
8. Implement and Enforce Policies
Continuing the focus on your team, you should have policies in place for them to follow. Balance the tasks of managing assets and a team is a delicate balance that requires guidelines.
Be direct with your expectations and transparent with any updates. Safety protocol should be actively displayed (placards, posters, etc.) where your team can easily view it. Standardizing and enforcing policies ensures your fleet is protected and remains compliant with regulations.
When it comes to inspections, consider using electronic driver vehicle inspection reports (eDVIR). These convenient eDVIRs can be completed on a driver’s mobile device, are more efficient and accurate than other forms.
Additionally, you can track and review vehicle inspections and require details like pictures to help identify issues. This allows you to identify issues immediately and take the necessary action to resolve the problem.
9. Stay Current on Fleet Industry Trends and Best Practices
Fleet technology and mobility have undergone a tremendous revolution. The ability to understand new technological advancements and apply them to your operation will keep you prepared.
Some of the most popular topics include the state of autonomous vehicles, cybersecurity, electric trucks among more. You'll also want access to guides and best practices that you can apply to your fleet.
Our monthly newsletter, Fleet Beat, keeps you informed on fleet trends and tips to help you improve your operation. Scroll down to the bottom of this post and enter your email address to join our newsletter list so you'll always remain informed!
10. Consider Fleetio as Your Software Provider
Not all fleet management software is created equal. Fleetio offers a variety of features to help you overcome any fleet management challenge thrown your way.
Whether it's tracking your assets and expenses or managing your maintenance workflows, we have the necessary capabilities to prepare you for any outcome.
We've partnered with leading telematics, ELD, fuel card and maintenance providers so you can centralize your entire fleet into our secured platform. To learn more about how we can help you, request a demo with one of our experts or start your free trial today!