If you do not already have a fleet management system at your company, or are looking to upgrade to a more modern solution, there are certain things you should know that will make adoption of a new software much easier. As you already know, making widespread changes to the way your business operates is not only a technological or workflow shift, it is a cultural one as well. If you know what to expect up front, all of the pieces should fall into place with minimal effort.
We talk to a number of companies who come to us with no established system of keeping up with fleet information and responsibilities. Many have been using excel spreadsheets, file folders, or even a whiteboard to track regular activities, expenses and maintenance schedules.
The goal is to help your company make that transition to a fleet management platform that will put everyone on the same page; allowing for a more efficient and transparent operation. Here are some helpful tips that will help make the process smooth and painless.
Get Everything Organized
In making the transition to a new product, platform or method of fleet management, it is always important to have all the right information at your fingertips. An effective software will provide an easy to access home for all vehicle data, so put every important piece of information in there. It may take some extra effort to track down every VIN, purchase record, invoice, etc. but it will pay off whenever you need to find what you are looking for. Going forward it will be handy to have everything stored in one place instead of scattered about. If your fleet software is cloud based, then you can look up information or enter data on the go from any device.
Set an Expectation of Responsibility
A great Fleet Manager empowers other employees to play their part in maintaining vehicles and keeping good records. Reinforce the essential connection between a well-run fleet and a healthy bottom line for the company. For most organizations, vehicles are a means to an end - whether you are delivering products or providing a service, but they are essential nonetheless. Unexpected downtime, costly repairs or unsafe behavior can have a big time impact on your business. By building that connection and the underlying importance of fleet responsibilities, you will let everyone know what is expected.
Preventative maintenance software is often based around email notifications to assigned people, so let everyone know that they are accountable for checking those messages and acting accordingly. Set thresholds that will alert them before a service activity is scheduled and then have another come at the time it is actually due. This redundancy allows for people to easily make time on their calendar to take the car or truck in and acts as a buffer. Establish a maintenance routine for all vehicles and stick to it.
Promote Driver Buy-In
Fleet management software today allows for data entry from just about anywhere and from a variety of devices. For smaller companies that share fleet responsibilities, giving drivers user permissions and the ability to enter information for their own vehicle is a great idea. With that access, of course, comes the responsibility to enter accurate and timely information.
We have seen varied results from the odometer entries drivers enter at the time of filling up. Some take the time to punch in the right number, others do not. However, more accurate mileage inputs seem to occur when the employee knows that data field is more than simply a means to being able to pump gas. If a fleet manager emphasises the importance of entering correct information (since it affects mpg calculations, service schedules, etc.), the result is usually positive.
Target the right metrics
Get off on the right foot by highlighting the metrics that matter to your fleet and your company. Cost per mile is a good one to concentrate on - it will give you a very good overall picture of how your vehicles operate. Service activities and fuel expenses contribute to this number so it will tell you precisely how much it should cost to drive one more mile or kilometer.
Driver performance can make up to a 33% impact on fuel economy, so monitoring miles per gallon for all of your vehicles is also key. Gas or diesel are probably going to be a large chunk of your monthly expenses, so make it easy to track usage. By integrating with fuel cards or entering accurate mileage entries at the pump with a mobile device, your software can automatically calculate this for you and show trends for fuel economy over the life of a vehicle. Plain and simple, if you establish predictable figures throughout your fleet, budgeting each year becomes much more accurate.
With this groundwork, you will have a much better shot at maintaining an efficient fleet and a successful company.