How to tackle major fleet management concerns

Car ownership advice
Tackling fleet management concerns

Fleet managers must effectively and efficiently manage a fleet of vehicles, as well as the drivers that get behind the wheel and things like fuel consumption, they also need to consider the acquisition and even disposal of vehicles in the fleet.

One of the key attributes of a good fleet manager is that of organisation. Vehicles need to be maintained, drivers managed, and routes planned.

The fleet manager also needs to stay abreast of regulatory and legal changes that are relevant to HR, to any grey fleet vehicles you have, and they also need to manage drivers as well as the vehicles. Even with reliable fleet management, there are many challenges and concerns that may arise.

Fleets are not running on schedule

Fleets need to run on a reliable and accurate schedule. When a taxi is late, or a driver fails to turn up, it typically has a knock-on effect that can leave you with late bookings and collections until there is a major issue.

Vehicle tracking can help identify routes that suffer congestion and delays. It can also help to identify the vehicles or drivers that are causing a backlog. As well as being able to identify those routes that are causing delays, you can determine whether any of your drivers are taking long breaks, whether any consistently take the wrong route, or if there are any other problems that can be remedied through better route management.

Some drivers are taking too long

If some deliveries are running late, while others are running on schedule, then this could be an indication that one or two of your drivers are taking long breaks, taking the wrong routes, or costing you time in any of several other ways. With vehicle tracking and fleet management software, you can reliably monitor a driver’s progress.

Driver's hands on a steering wheel

You can see which drivers are taking long breaks, and whether they make any unnecessary stops. Using this information, it is possible to improve your fleet timing and reliability by replacing drivers, or by offering training and guidance to those that are costing you time and money.

Vehicles are becoming badly damaged

Your rolling assets are a major part of your business. Keeping them in good condition is important and poor quality vehicles could be causing the delays that are costing your business money. A damaged vehicle needs to be taken off the road so that it can be repaired, and if your vehicles regularly become badly damaged then repair costs will quickly mount and you will find that you are having to pay for disposal and the acquisition of new vehicles more often than should be necessary.

There are many factors that could be causing unnecessary wear and tear to vehicles. These factors include aggressive driving. This may be caused by a person’s natural driving style or by the fact that drivers are running late and feel they need to make up time. Even the route you choose could be having a detrimental effect on the maintenance of your vehicles. If you find that you are replacing or repairing vehicles too often, then look at the routes your drivers are taking, and monitor driving to determine what improvements can be made.

Running costs are excessively high

Another potential problem caused by aggressive driving is that of excessive running costs. In this case, running costs includes the cost of fuel, but may also incorporate the cost of general maintenance and more. No matter the size of your fleet, it is important that you optimise fuel usage and keep running costs down to a minimum.

Choosing the optimal route for all deliveries, ensuring that your drivers do not drive overly aggressively, and getting the best prices for your fuel will not only help keep fuel consumption down but it will also help to reduce fuel costs too. Fuel is likely to be a large part of your fleet expenditure so finding ways to minimise this cost is important.

You’re making too many trips

Many companies and inexperienced fleet managers make the mistake of using too many delivery vehicles, or arranging for too many trips. An extra vehicle on the road, with all the trips that this requires, can cost a considerable amount of money every year.

Car on a trip at night

Optimising delivery routes does not just mean ensuring that every parcel is delivered on time. An efficient fleet manager will reduce the number of trips that are taken, because this greatly reduces ongoing fleet costs. They will do so without sacrificing delivery quality or timing.

Customer satisfaction is low

If customer satisfaction level is low, this could be for any of several reasons. Late deliveries, goods that are damaged when they arrive, and deliveries that never make it to their destination, are some of the possible reasons for low levels of customer satisfaction, and they can all be tackled through more efficient fleet management, vehicle tracking, and driver monitoring.

Vehicle tracking means that you can monitor every vehicle and its whereabouts at any time. This means that you can determine which vehicles are turning up late, whether it is down to poor route choice or poor driving, and you can find ways in which to optimise routes, improve abilities through driver training, and you can also look to reduce fuel consumption and fuel costs. By combining these efforts, you should be able to save money, reduce customer complaints, and ensure that your customers are happy with the service you offer.

Fined for bad fleet management practices

HR and fleet management regulations are common. Whether you have a fleet vehicles that are used solely for deliveries, or you incorporate a grey fleet and company cars into your rolling asset stock, you must ensure that you meet these regulations. Ignorance is not usually considered a good enough excuse to avoid penalties and potential fines. If you take on the role of fleet manager as a secondary role, or your HR department are already busy with managing employees and employee matters, then it can prove very difficult to keep on top of all the relevant changes.

Using a dedicated fleet manager

As well as regulations that specifically pertain to the vehicles that are part of your fleet, you also need to closely manage drivers and other employees. You need to coordinate with warehouses, ensure that customers are not left waiting too long for the delivery of their items, and you also need to manage fuel consumption. Getting the best deal on vehicles and ensuring that they are properly maintained through their life is another important aspect of the role that can take time.

All drivers need to have their credentials checked, and if you intend to run anything like a salary release scheme, some other company car scheme, or even allow employees to use their own car as part of a grey fleet program, then this can greatly increase the amount of time the role will demand.

A good fleet manager not only makes sure that you have the vehicles available to make deliveries on time, every time. They can plan optimal routes. They minimise fleet costs including the cost of fuel. They also ensure that you don’t fall foul of any HR or fleet management regulations and can help improve both customer and employee morale. However, not all businesses have the resources, the time, or the expertise to manage their own fleet requirements.

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Matt Jackson is content writer and blogger for Fleet Dynamic; a Wigan-based company that offers car and van hire, as well as full fleet management services. Enjoy the benefits of a dedicated fleet manager, without having to dedicate the time and resources within your own organisation.

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