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Fleet Management

How To Develop An Effective Fleet Management Strategy

Fleet activities are a large cost center for businesses. Learn how to develop a fleet management strategy that can help reduce expenses across the board.

Fleet Management Strategy

An effective fleet management strategy can help fleet owners and managers optimize performance, reduce expenses, ensure driver safety, and control the large cost center associated with fleet activities.

In this article, we discuss how to develop a fleet management strategy that takes into account the modern tools and technology that can make a manager’s job much easier.

Table Of Contents

Essential Technology For An Effective Fleet Management Strategy

fleet management strategy

A fleet management strategy is a large-scale plan that establishes how fleet activities contribute to a business’s overarching goals and defines how management will build, run, and optimize daily operations in order to maximize efficiency and profitability.

Three essential components of that overarching concept are:

Fleet Management Software

Fleet management software is a suite of tools that allows fleet administrators to monitor and organize the important details about the vehicles and drivers in their fleet.

Fleet managers can use the tools to track vehicles, monitor compliance, organize maintenance schedules, and improve driver safety — as well as a long list of other uses including expense tracking, cost analysis, and driver assignments.

Telematics

Telematics are installed applications and services that provide near real-time data about vehicle activity, location, and condition.

Fleet managers can use the data provided by telematics to help better monitor the wear and tear on vehicles, create preventative maintenance schedules, track driver behavior behind the wheel, and a variety of other tasks that can benefit the fleet as a whole.

Fuel Cards

Fuel card software (and the fuel cards that go with it) is technology that helps to streamline fuel purchases while drivers are on the road.

Fleet managers can use the advanced features to set up spending limits, control purchases, reduce spending, and a wide variety of other cost-cutting activities that can help bring one of the major fleet cost centers under control.

Why Are These Tools Important?

Fleet operations are a major cost center for most businesses, and how a business manages those operations has a material impact on profitability.

Failing to use the right tools and technology may cost businesses thousands of dollars per year depending on the size of their fleets. But with the right technology in place, managers will be better positioned to pull accurate data from their fleet and optimize operations.

How To Develop An Effective Fleet Management Strategy

Develop An Effective Fleet Management Strategy

1) Invest In Technology

Fleet activities are a major cost center for most businesses, but developing a fleet management strategy can help bring those expenses under control. As we mentioned, investing in the right tools and technology is the foundation of all fleet activities.

A good fleet management strategy involves implementing the essentials — fleet management software, telematics, and fuel card software — as well as other tools, including:

When investigating these tools, managers should keep in mind that the secondary tools — GPS, maintenance, driver monitoring, and electronic logging — may be included in some of the primary software.

2) Analyze The Current State Of The Business

The next step in developing a fleet management strategy is analyzing the current state of a business.

Include variables such as:

The tools mentioned above provide much of the detail necessary to make such an analysis successful. For example:

  • Fleet management software can help track parts and inventory, manage inspections, and maximize preventative maintenance.
  • Telematics is extremely useful for optimizing driver behavior and dialing in route management.
  • Fuel card software makes it possible to set rules for fleet spending, control expenses, and reduce the total cost of ownership (TCO).

3) Define Goals And Needs

Once ownership has analyzed the current state of their business and established a starting point for a fleet management strategy, it’s time to define the goals and needs of the operation. This provides fleet teams and admin with an endpoint, or something to shoot for.

Every business is different, but common goals include:

All of these KPIs contribute to the total cost of ownership and can be better controlled — to the point of lowering said TCO — using fleet management software, telematics, and fuel card software.

Even if a fleet business has none of this technology in place yet, it can see a very real benefit to its bottom line by starting with a fuel card and building out the tools from there.

4) Develop Policies

Contract signing for An Effective Fleet Management Strategy

The bulk of fleet management strategies revolves around policies that move the fleet from point A to point B. In this case, points A and B are the starting and ending points mentioned in the previous two steps.

Management should develop an action plan to address all components of their business, including:

  • Vehicle acquisition
  • Vehicle usage
  • Maintenance
  • Safety
  • Training
  • Driver expectations
  • Vehicle operating standards
  • Fuel management

Technology is crucial for putting these policies into action and can mean the difference between success and failure.

For example, fleet management software can be used to monitor and control vehicle uptime and maintenance. Telematics can be used to track driver behavior and design training programs. And fuel cards can be used to set fleet spending rules and control total cost of ownership.

5) Optimize Fleet Size And Composition

Optimizing fleet size and composition is another component of every good fleet management strategy.

In terms of fleet size, companies should strive to field only the necessary vehicles so they aren’t spending more on fuel and manpower than they have to.

For example, a fleet may maintain multiple vehicles for a single territory when it could do just as well with only one vehicle (analyzing the current state of the business may help reveal this fact).

Getting their fleets down to just the right size can help businesses save on everything from fuel costs, registration, and insurance to maintenance, repairs, and driver salaries.

Similarly, optimizing fleet composition — or stepping down to smaller, higher-fuel-mileage vehicles — can go a long way toward improving operations overall and helping management create an effective fleet management strategy.

Examples of this include transitioning from a three-quarter-ton pickup to a half-ton pickup or from a full-size van to a minivan or SUV.

If management is unsure whether stepping down vehicles is feasible, they may choose to rent a smaller option and have drivers test it out to see if it’s a good fit for the fleet.

6) Prioritize Safe Driving

Prioritizing safe driving is an essential component of even the most basic fleet management strategy.

Drivers should know — or know where to find — business policies on:

They should also be aware of what to do in the case of an accident and where their responsibilities regarding vehicle maintenance begin and end.

All of these topics contribute to the safe operation of a company’s fleet vehicles, and setting up a program that prioritizes them is a great way to get everyone on board and moving in the right direction.

Many, if not all, of these safe-driving policies will come from data provided by telematics technology attached to each vehicle.

Fuel use data (from the business’s fuel card software) can also be incorporated into the analysis to illustrate how safe driving can help reduce the total cost of ownership of individual vehicles and, by extension, the entire fleet.

7) Design A Preventative Maintenance Program

A detailed preventative maintenance program can go a long way toward reducing the fuel management issues that each vehicle faces and contributing to the overall fleet management strategy.

If even a single part of a fleet vehicle isn’t functioning properly, the engine of that vehicle will have to work harder — and use more fuel — to keep things moving.

Older vehicles are especially susceptible to this pitfall, but even simple systems on newer vehicles may malfunction once in a while.

Regardless of the age of a vehicle or how long it’s been in service, management should use fleet management software and data from vehicle telematics to create a regular maintenance program and ensure that drivers and fleet mechanics stick to it at all times.

Basic preventative maintenance includes:

  • Oil levels
  • Oil weight
  • Tire inflation
  • Wheel alignment
  • Fluid levels
  • Air filters
  • Fuel filters

Even if the program doesn’t include all of these items right away, one or two can have a significant impact on fuel use, vehicle lifespan, and the success of the overall fleet management strategy.

8) Continuously Monitor And Adapt

No fleet management strategy should be set in stone. Instead, leadership will need to continuously monitor, evaluate, and adapt the policies and procedures they’ve put in place to ensure their fleet is still moving toward the goals set at the beginning of the process.

One of the best ways to do this is with the technology we mentioned earlier. For example, fuel cards (and the software that comes with them) can be used to track and control fuel use and expenditures throughout a fleet.

With that data in hand, owners and managers can adapt their fleet management strategy as the business’s needs change over time.

Manage Your Fleet Efficiently With Coast

Manage Your Fleet Efficiently With Coast

With the right fleet management strategy in place, owners and managers will be better positioned to optimize fuel use, fuel costs, and driver expenses while they’re on the road.

That, in turn, can help fleet businesses control, and even reduce, the cost center associated with fleet activities.

The Coast fleet and fuel card leverages modern technology to provide open-loop functionality, real-time expense tracking, and a powerful online management platform that gives managers the transparency and visibility they need to control every dollar spent.

Paired with a robust fleet management strategy, these tools can help simplify the work involved in managing fleet vehicles for businesses of all sizes and types.

For more information on how Coast can help owners control fleet costs and streamline their fleet management programs, visit CoastPay.com today.