Top Challenges Facing New Fleet Managers and How to Solve Them
Being responsible for and effectively managing a fleet of vehicles is no easy task. This is especially relatable for new fleet managers attempting to get their head around various fleet management concepts.
As certification isn’t required for fleet managers, the scenario of suddenly having to manage a fleet of vehicles is a common situation for business owners. Particularly for small and medium businesses (SMBs). But, with the availability of affordable and digital fleet management solutions, the process of managing a vehicle fleet of any size can be made more manageable.
Why a Fleet Manager Needs to Ensure Driver Safety
One of the biggest concerns a new fleet manager will face is how to keep their drivers safe. The safety of drivers can be directly linked to their behaviour whilst out on the road. Factors such as aggressive braking, rapid accelerating, and dangerous cornering can all increase the risk of accidents.
But, with the right technology in place, managers are able to identify and improve driver behaviour almost instantly. This can result in benefits such as:
- Keeping other road users and passengers safe
- Reducing vehicle downtime
- Reducing costs for accident-related repairs and maintenance
- Saving on insurance premiums
A great example of how a fleet management solution was used to reduce costs through improving driver behaviour is Royal Mail; one of the UK’s most recognisable fleets. With a reduction in maintenance works and lower insurance premiums, they saved £1.5m in vehicle costs in 2018 alone.
Although there are opportunities to help improve the safety standards of drivers, such as a driver skills programme, a critical stage of improving driver safety is to collect and analyse driver information with accurate data retrieval and reporting capabilities. Data, such as collision reports and individual driver risk assessments, can efficiently be collected through fleet telematics technology and transmitted back to a centralised fleet management system in real-time.
By gathering this data into one centralised system, businesses can gain a holistic view of all thier drivers and highlight which ones require further training.
Keeping Vehicle Maintenance Costs and Downtime to a Minimum
Unexpected vehicle maintenance and repairs can be extremely costly to a business’s bottom line. In fact, fleet managers estimated that they lost £727 per day per vehicle due to downtime through maintenance.
An effective way of reducing costly maintenance expenses and avoid lengthy unplanned downtime is through preventive fleet maintenance. As opposed to a reactive approach, initiating a preventive maintenance schedule ensures vehicles undergo the necessary checks on a regular basis through routine maintenance and servicing.
Even minor servicing jobs such as checking tyre pressures shouldn’t be overlooked, as incorrect tyre pressures can end up proving costly. For instance, a 20% under-inflated tyre can result in an 18% loss of mileage throughout its lifespan.
But, by utilising digital solutions to automate maintenance and service workflows, managers are able to keep on top of all vehicle inspection schedules.
By implementing a fleet management software solution into maintenance activities, businesses are also able to build an alert system based on triggers such as mileage, date, or hours of use. Some fleet telematics devices have sensors that trigger a warning to a fleet management dashboard when a vehicle malfunctions. An automatic, digital reporting solution such as this then eliminates the need to rely on drivers to report back when a problem occurs.
Why Fleet Managers Are Responsible for Fuel Costs
Uncontrollable fuel prices are a challenge for any fleet, big or small. They’re also an expense that fleet manager’s need to control. But, given that fuel prices can rise and fall with minimal warning, forecasting for fuel spending can be complicated.
The capabilities needed to monitor the fuel consumption of vehicles is essential, as they enable managers to identify and implement the necessary fuel management techniques. It’s important to understand that not only should businesses be tracking fuel expenditure by vehicle route and journey, but they also need to look closely at how driver behaviour impacts fuel usage.
As well as the introduction of tools such as fuel cards, a digitalised fleet management solution is a great way for new fleet managers to accurately track their fleet’s fuel spending. It provides the tools to help analyse multiple fuel consumption metrics and enables them to plan more efficient routes. While also identifying areas of idling and keeping it to a minimum.
Fleet software also allows businesses to identify the drivers that are burning fuel excessively. As well as monitoring fuel card usage and receipts to help reduce false claims.
Making Plans to Reduce Vehicle Emissions
From as early as 2021, the government plan to introduce clean air zones to improve the air quality in polluted areas where vehicle emissions are high. Bath, Birmingham, and Leeds are among the first cities expected to launch clean air zones.
but, what does this mean for fleet managers? Well, if any fleet vehicles exceed emission standards, businesses may face a hefty fine.
It’s worth noting that HGVs must meet the minimum clean air zone standard of Euro VI. While minibuses, vans, taxis, cars, and private hire vehicles must meet Euro 6 and Euro 4 standards.
But, effective use of telematics and fleet management software can help tackle this challenge. Telematics devices can report on vehicle CO2 emissions and carbon footprint, while fleet management software enables fleet managers to determine a fleet’s total cost of ownership (TCO). This digital solution ensures managers are in the right position to make those sort of financial decisions. Especially if they need to shift to a higher proportion of electric or cleaner vehicles in the future.
Why New Fleet Managers Need Fleet Management Software
Managing a fleet can be a challenging task. Problems such as driver safety, driver behaviour, evolving environmental pressures, vehicle maintenance costs, and volatile fuel prices are all widespread issues. That’s not to mention the time factor to consider with certain laborious administrative fleet management tasks.
According to TomTom Telematics, a significant challenge faced by many SME decision-makers is the amount of time spent on manual vehicle management tasks. For instance:
- Manually communicating from the office to workers on the road takes on average 1 hour 41 mins per day
- Identifying and despatching the best driver for the job also takes 1 hour 41 mins per day on average
- Manually carrying out vehicle checks takes 1 hour 36 mins on average per day
- Checking driver licences takes 1 hour 29 minutes on average per day
Much time can be saved by automating these vehicle and driver management tasks through Fleet Management Software.
There are, of course, other challenges to consider for any new fleet manager. But, thankfully, many of these can be tackled effectively through the use of a robust fleet management tool.