As a company grows and evolves, it is necessary to expand essential resources and adjust business activities accordingly. Vehicle fleet management is one of these critical aspects that require proper administration and guidance. Without the right organization, many vital factors, including government regulations, can be missed, creating large-scale problems later.
What is Fleet Management?
Fleet management can vary, depending on the organizational needs and how many vehicles need monitoring. Whether it is truck fleet management or car fleet management, overseeing company vehicles includes all actions taken to ensure that the fleet runs legally, effectively, and within a budget.
Fleet vehicle management can encompass many aspects of administration, including:
- Ensuring all licensing and government regulatory needs are met
- Providing and managing fuel cards
- Scheduling workplace activities and vehicle tracking
- Ensuring proper routine and emergency maintenance on the vehicles
- Coordinating with third-party vendors for supplies of the fleet vehicles
- Providing detailed reports for management on fleet activities and costs
- Monitoring driving behavior and vehicle safety records
- Budget proposals
- Effective and accurate record-keeping
Anything that involves company-owned vehicles will be part of a fleet manager’s job.
The Benefits of Fleet Management
There are several benefits to managing a fleet properly. Ideally, with proper procedures and policies in place, running a group of fleet vehicles can be easy to do and with less stress on everyone involved.
Some immediate benefits of proper vehicle fleet management are:
- Easier vehicle acquisitions and disposal
- Coordinating annual licensing and regulatory requirements for legal operation
- Creating routine inspections and handling emergency repairs quickly
- Improving profitability
- Completing reports promptly and automating manual tasks
- Obtaining corporate discounts on supplies from third-party vendors for bulk orders
- Improving safety records and standards
- Increasing productivity
- Improving customer service
The advantages of using vehicle fleet management are vast. Even with only a few cars or trucks, having an established program to take care of these items will save the company time and money, all while building the business.
Easier Vehicle Acquisitions and Disposal
Adding onto a company fleet can be easier with a dedicated fleet manager. They build a relationship with the supplier and keep in touch regularly with any possible upgrades or changing needs.
Fleet managers and other employees will have easy access to the necessary paperwork and details when disposing of outdated fleet vehicles, streamlining the process. From mileage to service records, the disposal of assets is a more straightforward task.
Coordinating Annual Licensing and Regulatory Requirements for Legal Operation
All vehicles will require local government licensing, and fleet vehicles are no different. By using vehicle fleet management effectively, organizations can coordinate annual licensing and other regulatory requirements to effectively save time and money.
With proper scheduling, there is no worry about missing annual licensing deadlines or other regulatory time limits.
Creating Routine Inspections and Handling Emergency Repairs Quickly
Every fleet vehicle will require routine maintenance inspections. This task aids in preventative maintenance and can save an organization time and money by avoiding or minimizing complicated repairs down the road.
Emergency repairs will happen on occasion, and with proper fleet management in place, employees can handle these situations quickly and effectively to get company vehicles back in safe working order.
Another terrific benefit of effective vehicle fleet management is improving profitability within the company. With proper organizational management in place, it is easy to see where money is lost and improvements are needed to help reduce costs.
Completing Reports Promptly and Automating Manual Tasks
One of the most significant advantages of fleet vehicle management is how it will save the company time. As a result, many previously manual tasks and activities can be streamlined and cut back on the effort required to complete them.
Specialized fleet management software can generate vital reports and documents within less time with inputted data from the system.
Obtaining Corporate Discounts on Supplies from Third-Party Vendors for Bulk Orders
Fleet managers are the ideal liaisons for their organization to obtain corporate discounts for many fleet vehicle supplies. By grouping supplies in bulk, fleet management costs can decrease with significant discounts.
Improving Safety Standards and Record-Keeping
When a company uses a fleet vehicle management system, improving safety standards and its associated record-keeping becomes easier. Incident reports are easily accessible, and health and safety reports are simple to generate.
Another vital aspect of small business fleet management is how it can increase productivity. Less time is wasted on drivers and trucks waiting for services or repairs. Dispatching and scheduling deliveries or pickups become more streamlined. By not squandering time, employees and equipment become more productive.
Improving Customer Service
If a business relies heavily on customer interaction with drivers and vehicles, better efficiency creates a less stressful work environment for everyone. Of course, proper scheduling will have employees interacting better with the clients, as prompt service ensures exceptional customer service.
How to Tell If You Need Fleet Management?
Naturally, large organizations will require someone to oversee many company vehicles, but if the business is small, how do you tell if you need fleet management? In many cases, small business fleet management will happen when five or more vehicles conduct business operations.
Is the Business Large Enough?
How much is a fleet, precisely, and is the business large enough? This guideline does not mean that a company with only three or four vehicles does not need someone to act as a fleet manager. However, having an individual take on the responsibility of fleet vehicle management can be beneficial, no matter how many cars or trucks the company uses.
Even with small businesses, employees can miss tasks, or problems arise that can take time away from employees who are busy with other activities. For example, if a company includes more vehicles or critical items are being pushed aside, it can be time for a designated fleet manager or an effective fleet management program.
How to Perform Small Business Fleet Management
Overseeing a company’s vehicles does not have to be cumbersome or exhausting. With the right tools and methods, small business fleet management can effectively maintain good business operations.
Some organizations will have an individual within the company looking after their fleet vehicles, while other companies will hire a third-party fleet management contractor. Both of these methods are quite successful ways of keeping a business on track and operational.
How an organization chooses to enlist in vehicle fleet management is an independent decision. Not all methods will work for every company.
An In-House Beginner’s Guide to Managing Small Fleets
For anyone taking care of fleet vehicle management in-house, there are vital aspects to cover. Proper procedures in place will ensure that a fleet manager correctly controls all business assets.
Some necessary steps when starting a small business fleet management program include:
Step 1: Collect Asset Information
Gather all detailed asset information for vehicle assets and input it into a chosen fleet management program.
Step 2: Collect Driver Information
Gather all employee information necessary for database linking.
Step 3: Collect Licensing and Regulatory Reports for Assets
Determine all annual licensing and inspection reports required. Create automatic scheduled alerts to warn of any upcoming due dates.
Step 4: Collect Licensing and Training Reports for Drivers
Determine all annual licensing and training reports required for drivers. Create automatic scheduled alerts to remind employees of any upcoming due dates for retraining or certifications.
Step 5: Activate Fuel Cards
Activate all fuel cards and input the detailed information into the fleet management software program.
Step 6: Employee Training
Ensure all employees are familiar with using the digital interface of the fleet management software program to help keep all records current.
Step 7: Ensure the Accuracy of All Data Records Entered Daily
Enter any DVIRs, maintenance, or repair records into the fleet management software daily to ensure the database is current.
Step 8: Create Periodic Reports
Perform daily, weekly, and monthly reports on fleet performance, fuel economy, driver efficiency, or other essential activities to find better methods for operations. In addition, generate reports for any open or incomplete work orders, scheduled maintenance tasks, or unfinished repairs to follow up on later.
Step 9: Submit All Required Regulatory Information When Needed
Gather all details and submit the necessary regulatory informational reports to your local governing authorities as required. For example, many locations will ask for annual fuel tax and mileage reports, while others may require incident statistics for health and safety regulations.
Fleet Management Software
In today’s technological world, managing a fleet department is easier than ever with fleet management software and digital reporting activities. While extensive spreadsheets and detailed information are still critical, organizations can streamline many of these tasks with automatic software programs.
Having access to all of the fleet activities at your fingertips makes managing multiple vehicles simple to do. Several fleet management software programs will cover some similar tasks, while others are customizable and have additional options to cater to a business’ needs.
Some tasks that a fleet management software program can help with include:
- Keeping asset information current
- Scheduling for annual inspections
- Creating and inputting Driver Vehicle Inspection Reports (DVIR)
- Creating and inputting scheduled and emergency maintenance and repair work orders
- Accurate tracking for mileage, fuel consumption, and safety incidents
- Driver tracking for hours worked, speed infractions, and instant alerts
- Accounting activities for all assets, including inventory and monthly or annual budgets
Keeping Asset Information Current
Digital software programs designed for fleet vehicle management help keep all asset information current by allowing multiple users to input data. Employees can do this action from separate offices or on a digital device with many programs.
Scheduling for Annual Inspections
Automatic scheduling is a massive benefit of software programs. Many schedulers have customizable filters to choose alerts before a specified due date to give users time to arrange appointments.
Creating and Inputting Driver Vehicle Inspection Reports (DVIR)
All commercial vehicles require DVIRs before operating. Previously these paper reports could become lost or damaged before making it back to the office for collection. Software programs make it simple for a driver to input this information through a digital tablet or device.
Creating and Inputting Scheduled and Emergency Maintenance and Repair Work Orders
Automatic fleet management software makes it simple to create maintenance and repair work orders. Printing or scanning these documents into the program will help keep all company-wide asset records current.
Accurate Tracking for Mileage, Fuel Consumption, and Safety Incidents
Digital software programs ensure more accurate tracking of fleet vehicle mileage records, all fuel consumption, and any safety incidents reported. In addition, precise input helps to find discrepancies and minimize any data errors.
Driver Tracking for Hours Worked, Speed Infractions, and Instant Alerts
Fleet vehicle software programs make keeping track of all active driving hours and speed infractions simple. In addition, database users can issue instant alerts to a driver in any location, enforcing effective communication at any time.
Accounting Activities for All Assets, Including Inventory and Monthly or Annual Budgets
Vehicle fleet maintenance programs help to have all accounting activities organized and current. In addition, digital programs can be beneficial in creating reports and extracting data for monthly or annual budgets, and preparing end-of-year accounting reports.
The Benefits of a Fleet Management Software Program
With the proper software program, fleet management activities can be automatic, reducing the amount of time wasted on dispatching, deliveries, pickups, and other essential vehicle activities.
Some benefits of utilizing fleet management software are:
- Anyone within the organization can access critical vehicle information
- Information is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, without the need for an open office
- Real-time alerts on driving habits
- Automates many data entries, such as driver’s logbooks, DVIRs, and incident reports
- Are cost-effective ways to keep all fleet vehicle information
Companies that want to streamline business processes and operate effectively can benefit from a vehicle fleet management program. However, small businesses are not immune to the need to have proper procedures and conduct business more productively and profitably. Fleet management can be beneficial for any number of company vehicles when utilized correctly.
It can be simple to enlist in an automatic software program to keep all vehicle asset information current and easily accessible to all employees. In addition, many small companies find numerous benefits to using digital platforms to enter data, generate regular reports, and create alerts for upcoming scheduled events.
Whether it is an in-house employee or a third-party organization that oversees the vehicle assets, the advantages for an organization to streamline their business activities this way are noticeable. Do not let the size of the organization determine if proper fleet vehicle management is necessary.