Fleets have been around for a long time, with origins dating back to the days of the Vikings with their extensive fleet of ships they used for military conquests, trade, and exploration. Since then, fleets have evolved tremendously. Today’s fleet encompasses the use of technology, risk management, logistics, and more. Fleet management requires a special skill set, and the ability to adapt.
Vehicles are the tools that companies use to service their customers, whether that be through delivery of goods, construction, or other services. Sales reps are not productive sitting at the office, and require this tool, in order to meet with prospects, or visit their clients. Even though vehicles are mandatory for most businesses to function, this doesn’t mean that they should be acquired without proper research or careful consideration. From acquisition to disposal, a fleet will go through many changes.
So, what is fleet management? Fleet Management involves all the responsibilities surrounding acquisition to disposal, while keeping vehicles running optimally. The many functions involved in fleet management overlap and are interrelated. Having a system in place to monitor various functions is important for top performance. Fuel, maintenance, and GPS tracking provide sources of data that help fleet managers make better informed decisions surrounding their fleet. Other tasks that require attention are license, registration, title, safety training, insurance, upfitting, and recycling of vehicles. Not to mention, the financing options: to lease or own.
Acquiring vehicles is the first step and requires knowledge on the vehicle’s intended use. Questions to consider:
How many miles will vehicles incur on a yearly basis?
What equipment is required for drivers to successfully perform their jobs?
Doing a ride-along with drivers and understanding their workday is a valuable exercise that fleet managers should do in order to get a full insight into their driver’s needs. Ask for driver feedback on how they use their vehicle. What’s working, what’s not working? Once the needs have been established, the make and model paired with proper upfits will need to be determined. Will all vehicles be the same or will there need to be a mixture of vans and trucks to suffice the needs of your business?
Having a fleet budget in place, and benchmarking progress will be necessary to keep a fleet on track. Options to lease or own should be carefully considered.
Maintenance & Repairs:
Maintaining vehicles is an important component that sometimes gets overlooked. Every vehicle requires preventative maintenance such as oil changes, tire rotations, brake services, and more! Keeping vehicles on a routine maintenance plan helps mitigate risks of major vehicle breakdowns and keeps drivers safe by avoiding dangerous highway situations. A tire that needs to be replaced shouldn’t be put off till the last minute.
A major breakdown costs companies time and money. With a vehicle being in the shop, the driver is not on the road, and the customer is unhappy due to a missed appointment. Having a maintenance system will help keep vehicles on track by alerting drivers on upcoming maintenance that is due. Maintenance software keeps track of all repair and maintenance expenditures.
GPS tracking has been a hot topic lately, with more and more fleets adopting this technology. GPS tracking gives insight into where the vehicle is, how it’s being driven, and engine diagnostic data. Driver behavior that is costing your company money can be curtailed with this information. Idling, harsh braking, harsh acceleration, and harsh cornering can be nipped in the bud for good. All these habits are unsafe and cost the company in fuel dollars, and more frequent maintenance expenses.
Recycling vehicles at the proper time is important for minimizing depreciation and maximizing resale value. If a single repair cost is more than 30% of the value of the vehicle, it is time to replace. Older vehicles have worsening fuel economy, so this is also something to monitor. Working with a fleet management company can give companies access to a network of auctions and reselling capabilities that are very favorable. A fleet management company can usually sell at a higher resale amount than what someone could negotiate on their own. Keeping a vehicle in good condition helps get a better sale price.
Title, & Registration:
Handling these tasks can be time consuming, although they are necessary to stay in compliance. Having drivers be accountable for registrations can add extra stress to their schedule. Keeping up to date with legislation changes and any new regulations is important. Partnering with a fleet management company can take these tedious duties off your plate for good.
Fuel is the biggest variable cost a fleet will incur. Usually businesses will let their drivers expense their fuel and reimburse them for it. But that requires keeping up with receipts and gives little knowledge on how frequently they are fueling up and whether the MPG is within favorable parameters. With a fuel program this specific data can be easily reported on. A Fuel program helps to control costs and prevent fraudulent transactions.
Driver Safety and Productivity:
Fleets need to have ongoing safety education, and a policy in place. Creating a culture based around safety will empower drivers to make better decisions when driving. Rewarding safe driving behavior with gamification or score cards can also add a layer of accountability. Safe drivers keep the community safe and protects your company by reducing the risk of accidents and liability.
So, how do you manage your fleet of vehicles & how do you incorporate the best policies and procedures to help your fleet run more efficiently?
Fleet Management encompasses risk management, data analytics, fuel, maintenance, compliance, and lifecycle analysis. Fleet management has never been looked at as a revenue stream, but more of a necessary function that should provide safe transportation of goods and services, while keeping costs as low as possible.
Working with a fleet management company to assist you in managing these necessary tools is a great option. Leasing Associates works closely with you and your company to manage these assets, minimizing risk and optimizing your fleet.