The right fleet management strategy can help boost productivity and efficiency. In this post, we highlight the best fleet management practices.
To increase the efficiency of your commercial fleet, consider the fleet management tips below.
10 vehicle fleet management best practices
The tips shared in this guide are tried and tested. Some might not fit your particular business, but implementing the recommendations that do apply is the first step to improving the performance of your fleet.
1. Create a fleet diagnosis
You can’t manage your fleet effectively if you don’t have a clear grasp of its current condition.
Without knowing how your fleet is doing, you could be directing your attention to less critical issues while leaving the urgent problems unattended.
Run fleet diagnostics to know how best to proceed with managing your commercial vehicles and drivers. Doing so helps you uncover, prevent, or address issues about your fleet and keep operations running smoothly.
Create a fleet diagnosis by obtaining and studying relevant data and records, like:
- An inventory of your commercial vehicles, equipment, and other related assets, e.g., light- and heavy-duty vehicles, trailers, and containers
- A document of your vehicles’ condition (whether in optimal condition, needing repairs, etc.)
- Distance traveled by each vehicle every month
- All expenses
- Drivers’ general profiles, health condition, and training sessions they’ve completed
2. Develop your fleet management policy
After completing your fleet diagnosis, the next steps are to create a fleet management plan and guidelines that, when followed, will help you achieve your targets.
Set attainable goals, key performance metrics, and deadlines. This will help you determine your budget, management, and cost reduction strategies.
Next, create company protocols for various fleet management aspects, such as vehicle maintenance and adherence to transport regulations. Include your team’s rights, rewards, and compensations, plus some corrective actions for compliance gaps.
Finally, communicate these goals and protocols to the company’s staff and upper management. Make sure they understand and agree with your plan and policy to ensure smooth team coordination.
3. Supervise vehicle life cycles, acquisition, and disposal
Have a firm understanding of your vehicles’ life cycles to select the most suitable procurement and disposal options.
When examining your fleet, decide whether or not you should acquire additional commercial vehicles. Create a vehicle procurement schedule outlining the costs and benefits of getting new vehicles.
Consider which vehicle model to get, whether the specifications meet your operational needs, and if the upkeep requirements aren’t expensive and burdensome.
For example, getting new motor vehicles means spending extra on tracking system installation, insurance, etc. However, new modern vehicles are more fuel-efficient, produce fewer emissions, and operate more safely than older models. These considerations show how procuring new modern vehicle models can be more cost-efficient and beneficial than getting older, albeit cheaper, models.
Opt for wholesale purchases when acquiring new commercial vehicles. Develop feasible purchasing plans matching your budget.
Once you procure new vehicles, guide your personnel on their proper documentation, storage, and other necessary post-acquisition workflows.
When replacing old commercial vehicles, consider their potential resale value and the remarketing and reselling strategies you’ll apply. Alternatively, evaluate your disposal options should you decide to remove them from the fleet.
4. Choose the right maintenance strategy
Vehicle maintenance is mandatory in fleet management. It ensures your assets’ optimal conditions and performances and lengthens their lifespan. It’s also a government-required activity among commercial fleets to increase road protection.
Vehicle maintenance can be preventive, predictive, or reactive. Either of the first two is ideal since they prevent severe vehicle breakdowns and massive repair costs.
- Preventive maintenance is a proactive and periodic examination of vehicle conditions for any damages, whether or not they exhibit potential issues.
- Predictive maintenance, on the other hand, uses AI that analyzes live and historical data to assess vehicle conditions, recognize fault patterns, and forecast damages.
It also alerts you on possible defects so you can implement upkeep activities only when necessary. This approach is unlike preventive maintenance, which you perform even when your vehicles seem to operate normally.
Predictive maintenance is typically more expensive than the former due to the sophisticated technologies involved. However, it can save you more upkeep time, effort, and resources.
Choose whichever method is best for your fleet and current business situation.
What’s important is you implement proper vehicle maintenance before any defect occurs or worsens.
5. Oversee and control finances
To better grasp the strategies and practices to optimize your company resources when supervising our fleet, deepen your understanding of the following:
- Present financial situation of the business
- Available financial and other resources
- Trade-offs and investment returns
- Projecting expenses, operational costs, and resale values
- Fixed and flexible financial management strategies
- Forecasting future or changing operational and business needs
Develop a functional capital spending plan based on those points. Also consider your service prices, incentives, taxes, and financing rates.
For your expenses, exercise control over two of the most costly line items in a typical logistics company’s budget. These are your workforce salaries and vehicle fuel.
Labor expenses can vary. However, you must monitor your personnel’s hours, particularly your drivers’.
Find out if they’re constantly doing overtime work because they’re unable to finish tasks by the end of their shifts. If so, assess your operations for any inefficiencies and productivity barriers and eliminate them.
On the other hand, controlling fuel spending requires restricting your fuel consumption.
One of the best practices in fleet fuel management is tracking your vehicles’ fuel usage with fuel monitoring solutions.
The software reveals how much fuel your drivers use in one trip and if the amount is acceptable or not. You can then apply corrective measures to prevent fuel wastage and optimize its consumption.
6. Invest in your employees’ professional development
Before employees begin working for your fleet, sign them up for professional training sessions.
All fleet management personnel should know how to perform technical tasks correctly and cost-efficiently. Ensure they understand the industry standards and related company protocols. Validate all required certifications and qualifications as well.
For example, any administrative staff using fleet management solutions should learn the ins and outs of using them. They must know where to find which information, how to maximize the software features, how to integrate various technologies, etc.
Additionally, equip your drivers with defensive and eco-driving strategies, including some best practices in fleet fuel management.
Monitor and evaluate their performances periodically — not to punish or pressure them but to improve their driving habits. Conduct regular driver training, retraining, and coaching programs as needed.
7. Stay updated with regulatory requirements
Fleet manager’s responsibilities also include monitoring and ensuring their fleet’s compliance. Federal, state, and local rules can often change, so you should stay updated with any adjustments.
Subscribe to email or print newsletters, social media posts, and other communication channels by the United States Department of Transportation (USDOT) and Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).
8. Get suitable fleet insurance coverage
Acquire suitable insurance coverage for your fleet vehicles and drivers to reduce your spending should they get into an accident, robbery, or other incidents.
Look for insurance packages that suit your business requirements for smoother claims processing and coordination.
To reduce your premiums and get favorable risk profiles, demonstrate your commitment to safety. Share your current or planned safety measures and attach relevant documents to your application.
These can include:
- Certificates, photo documentation, and other acceptable evidence of conducting defensive driving training sessions
- Fleet risk management plans and protocols
- Photos, records, or other documents showing your installed dashcams, anti-theft devices, electronic logging devices (ELDs), etc.
9. Be customer-centric
When planning and organizing your fleet operations, always aim for client satisfaction.
When you impress and satisfy your clients, you capture their trust and eventual loyalty. This leads to increased sales, higher customer lifetime value, and more brand recommendations to prospects.
One of the practical ways to make customers happy is by running efficient operations. Deliver orders promptly or earlier than your promised date of arrival. This requires optimizing your route planning, maintenance schedules, and logistics workflows.
Review your current fleet-related processes, including administrative ones, and see if they have bottlenecks and inefficiencies to eliminate. Go in-depth and don’t dismiss even seemingly minor adjustments since they can spell a huge difference in simplifying workflows.
10. Leverage all-in-one fleet management software
Finally, leverage comprehensive technologies, especially fleet management software, to hyper-optimize your efforts.
Choose platforms with AI, automation, and numerous other features in one package. This is more cost-efficient than getting various solutions from multiple vendors. The solution you choose should also enable you to complete tasks, get data, and generate reports quickly and cohesively.
All-in-one fleet management platforms, such as KeepTruckin, cover many operational aspects and tools, e.g., fuel management, International Fuel Tax Association (IFTA) reporting, dispatch, dashcams, ELDs, maintenance, driver scorecards, etc.
Also, choose a software that guarantees up-to-date regulatory compliance, has intuitive performance-reporting dashboards, and offers 24/7 customer support, among others.
Best practices make for an effective fleet management
Having a solid grasp of the vehicle fleet management best practices is crucial in improving your operational efficiency and productivity.
Implement these fleet management tips now to simplify your processes, optimize your performance, and enjoy long-term business success.