The Beginner’s Guide to Fleet Management

Transportation is an important aspect of any business. Commercial vehicles such as cars, trucks, vans, and marine vessels help companies procure materials, transport people to and from different places, and deliver their offerings, among other things.

What is Fleet Management?

Fleet management involves supervising a set of vehicles used or leased for commercial delivery or personal transportation. These vehicles include trucking vehicles meant for heavier loads, delivery vehicles for cross-country or local businesses, or rented vehicles for personal use.

Managing these vehicles is more complicated than it sounds. Businesses must ensure they choose the right fleet for their operations and train drivers for each vehicle. Other primary tasks covered in fleet management include the following:

  • Tracking the fleet
  • Setting safety and risk management procedures
  • Providing maintenance, insurance, and roadside assistance
  • Complying with necessary protocols
  • Focusing on customer satisfaction
  • Managing finances well

Fleet management is not exclusive to one or a few businesses. Industries and sectors that benefit from this process include the following:

  • Construction
  • Courier and delivery
  • Dealerships (for test drives)
  • Field services
  • Food and beverage
  • Heavy trucks
  • Motor pools (occasional leasing of vehicles)
  • Oil, gas, and mining
  • Pharmaceutical
  • Police and first responders
  • Shared mobility
  • Towing
  • Waste and recycling
  • Winter operations

Source: Pexels

Best Fleet Management Practices for Business

When determining your fleet needs, you must first evaluate what type of vehicles your company needs. Some factors that you need to consider include the following: 

  • Your business classification based on scale
  • Industries your business works with
  • Number of vehicles your business currently has and the number of additional vehicles you need
  • Types of vehicles you need
  • Your business’s need for other types of vehicles

Once you have determined these factors, here are the steps you can take to operate your fleet smoothly.

1. Choose the right fleet

In assembling your fleet, choose vehicles based on your business’s purpose and needs. You can acquire a fleet for your business in four ways: purchasing, leasing, a combination of both, and green fleets.

Source: Pexels

First, purchasing your business vehicles allows you to customize and apply your branding uniformly across your fleet. Car manufacturers and dealerships also provide fleet discounts when you buy many vehicles. However, the downside to this option is its high upfront financial cost.

Meanwhile, you can reduce your monthly costs if you lease vehicles from another service provider. You can also adjust your fleet every few years based on your needs.

Aside from being free to customize your rented fleet, you may also be liable for any damage to vehicles under your name. However, insurance can manage this concern.

You can also purchase or rent some vehicles or opt for a green fleet comprising environmentally efficient cars that run on greener fuel sources. These fuel sources can reduce lifecycle costs, save you from fluctuating fuel prices, and cut down harmful emissions. They can also make your company look like a green ally that can appeal to some of your customers.

2. Implement rigorous hiring and provide training

Once you have an established fleet, the next step is hiring people to drive them. Here are some requirements you should seek when hiring fleet drivers.

  • A valid driver’s license or a commercial driver’s license (CDL) for truck drivers
  • A clean driving record
  • Certifications proving their mental and physical capacity to operate vehicles safely
  • Certified pre-employment drug and alcohol screening
  • Relevant amount of experience
  • Several references from previous places of employment 

Source: Pexels

You must also provide additional training to ensure they drive safely and work efficiently. These company-sponsored supplemental training could include:

  • Driving on different terrain types
  • First aid 
  • Dangers of distracted and impaired driving

Some drivers can be less experienced than others. As such, you can assign them to ride with veteran drivers for practical and real-world experience temporarily. Additionally, you can host regular training programs to update your drivers on automotive industry trends and other relevant changes.

3. Track your fleet

Use fleet tracking technologies to monitor your vehicles and drivers and check real-time updates and alerts. Tracking allows fleet managers to know when vehicles arrive and depart and to coordinate these schedules based on the identified demand for the services and their drivers’ availability.

Tracking your fleet also enables you to monitor each vehicle’s speed and ensure that it complies with permitted driving speeds. Additionally, it helps you ensure that your drivers work on schedule to maintain customer satisfaction.

Fleet tracking is also helpful in determining busy route schedules, identifying roads prone to traffic, finding alternative directions, or tracking unnecessary stops drivers make. You can adjust your fleet tracking device’s settings to improve service delivery and manage your drivers better.

Fleet tracking technologies also record important maintenance information and determine when to retire certain vehicles and buy new ones.

4. Provide maintenance, insurance, and security support

Routine fleet maintenance ensures that your vehicles perform well as you use them. For improved business efficiency, you should prioritize oil changes, filter replacements, and truck and trailer maintenance before allowing your cars to go on the road. These steps extend your vehicles’ life span, saving you from purchasing new ones now and then.

Source: Pexels

Another part of this step is verifying that drivers have the necessary training and knowledge before embarking on a trip. This process ensures drivers’ safety and saves you from fleet damage that may entail company liability and additional costs.

Establishing and maintaining safety policies and providing comprehensive and regular safety training for employees and vehicles will significantly reduce accidents, repair costs, and liability exposure.

5. Comply with rules

Some vehicles require adherence to specific government regulations. For instance, specific regulatory authorities place big trucks under particular fuel taxation guidelines and require commercial cars for lease to have electronic logging devices (ELDs). Failing to comply with these rules can result in penalties or fleet disruption.

Additionally, authorities expect fleet drivers to know driving protocols and etiquette to avoid traffic violations and accidents. As a fleet manager, you must ensure your drivers update their licenses and have relevant driving experience.

You can also update your systems, operations, and vehicles based on automotive industry trends that have proven beneficial in vehicle efficiency and cost reduction.

6. Focus on customers

Your fleet is an essential part of your business. It ensures you deliver products and services on time and make your customers happy.

All the steps above prevent delays in your transportation or logistics operations, consequently generating customer satisfaction that can boost your business in the long run.

7. Manage finances well

Fleet management usually involves enormous costs, from vehicle acquisition to maintenance. You must manage your finances to ensure your fleet remains operational and performs well.

Track your expenses, conduct cost analysis before making major financial decisions, and ensure that your income consistently exceeds your costs to keep your fleet and business running.

Are You Ready to Manage Your Fleet?

Managing a fleet for your business is challenging, from choosing the right vehicles to handling maintenance, employee training, and finances. However, it is not impossible. You must learn to manage your fleet effectively, whether you are catering to your business nature or requirements. 

Use the checklist above to manage your fleet. As your business and fleet grow, you will surely get the hang of it.

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