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Fleet Management

Fleet Solutions: Essential Tools For Managing A Fleet

Incorporating the right fleet solutions is no longer a luxury — it’s a necessity. Learn about the essential tools that can help any fleet run better.

Fleet Solutions

In today’s competitive and fast-paced business environment, incorporating the right fleet solutions into the business workflow is no longer a luxury — it’s a necessity.

Whether the fleet consists of two limos or taxis, five service vans, or 10 delivery trucks, effective fleet management can translate into cost savings, increased productivity, and enhanced customer service.

To organize and direct their mobile assets better, managers need fleet solutions that can help them control fuel and driver expenses, monitor and track vehicles (and their systems), and maximize dispatch and communication.

This article discusses three of the most important fleet solutions so fleet-based business owners and managers can choose the options that work best for them.

Table Of Contents

Fleet Solution #1: Fleet Fuel Cards

fleet solutions for gas

Fleet fuel cards are one of the best ways to fill the gap between vehicle telematics data and fleet management software.

Fleet cards can help managers and drivers see exactly how tracking and control come together to affect real-world variables including fuel consumption, fuel costs, route optimization, driving behavior, and more.

Fuel Costs

Fuel cards can help control one of the largest expenses that fleet-based businesses face: keeping vehicles running with gas, diesel, electric, or propane. Top-tier fuel cards do this by providing rebates, rewards, and open-loop capabilities.

Rebates typically take the form of money back on every gallon of fuel that a driver purchases while on the road.

Rewards may include such things as referral incentives, discounts with partner businesses, and sign-up bonuses (just to name a few).

Open loop capabilities allow drivers to choose the nearest locations with the lowest prices rather than having to travel many miles off the optimal route to find a station that accepts their card.

Driver Expenses

Fuel cards can also help control and track other necessary driver expenses that come into play while they’re on the road.

With an advanced fuel card, managers can set things up so that drivers can pay for food, maintenance, and other supplies as well as the fuel they need to reach their destination.

Tracking and controlling all driver expenses with a single fleet solution — a fleet fuel card — can help the business cut down on the unnecessary (and expensive) spending that can fall through the cracks when another method of payment is used.

Administrative Controls

Quality fleet fuel cards are only as useful as the administrative controls they offer.

At minimum, a good fleet card should have the following features:

  • Real-time expense tracking
  • Unauthorized purchase protection
  • Custom rules for different employees or vehicles
  • Fuel-only purchases
  • One-off purchase authorization
  • Time-of-day, day-of-the-week limits

It can also be helpful to use a card that provides alerts about questionable transactions and gives managers the ability to deactivate and reactivate a card in just a few clicks.

The most advanced cards even come with powerful security features such as EMV chips and pre-use card activation.

The former are tiny microchips embedded in the card itself that generate a unique code every time a driver swipes or inserts the card to make a purchase. The code is only good for a single purchase and cannot be used a second or third time to buy something else

The latter is a system that requires drivers to first activate the card by sending a text from a specific linked cell phone number before they can use the card to make a purchase.

If everything is correct, the system activates the card and approves or denies whatever transaction follows.

Fleet Solution #2: Telematics

Telematics for fleet solutions

Through a combination of GPS, installed hardware, and cloud-based software, telematics can monitor vehicle health, detect potential problems, and help reduce operating costs.

Vehicle Maintenance

A comprehensive telematics fleet solution can help managers monitor vehicle systems, create maintenance schedules, and prevent breakdowns from taking business assets out of circulation.

Telematics solutions can also sync with electronic logging devices, eDVIRs, and pre-trip and post-trip inspection apps to make drivers’ jobs much easier.

Security

Telematics fleet solutions can also take into account the security of the fleet and allow managers to:

  • Immobilize vehicles in case of theft
  • Ensure cargo integrity and prevent tampering
  • Monitor vehicle interiors for unauthorized access
  • Track vehicles remotely

Driver Safety

With the help of vehicle-mounted and in-cab cameras, some telematics fleet solutions can monitor driver behavior for poor driving habits that can seriously impact the business’s bottom line.

Analyzing this telematics data gives businesses the ability and insight to develop training programs that can reduce or eliminate aggressive, damaging, and expensive driving habits.

Fleet Solution #3: Fleet Management Software

Fleet Solution Fleet Management Software

Fleet management software (FMS) gives businesses the tools necessary to monitor, direct, and optimize all fleet vehicles – be they cars, vans, trucks, semis, or heavy equipment – from a single digital fleet solution.

With fleet fuel cards and telematics to fill in the gaps, fleet management software can give fleet managers more control over vehicle activity whether the fleet is scattered across the country or parked in one location.

Route Optimization

Many fleet management software suites come with route optimization tools to help dispatchers analyze real-time traffic data. Armed with this information, they will be better positioned to plan and deliver the most efficient path to the next destination or appointment.

Some fleet solutions even allow managers to set geofences and instruct the software to notify drivers if the vehicle enters or exits a predefined zone.

For transportation, delivery, and service industries (such as HVAC, plumbing, electrical, and IT) that can help reduce travel expenses, maximize vehicle use, and avoid overlap within territories.

Compliance

Fleet management software can help drivers, managers, and the business as a whole comply with local, state, and federal regulations such as hours-of-service and inspection reports.

With help from telematics and fuel card data, fleet management software makes it easier to stay on top of relevant regulations, ensure proper licensing and registration, and streamline complex tasks such as paying fuel tax and finding the best insurance rates.

Communication

Some fleet solutions come with advanced communication features that allow office employees to stay in touch with drivers at all times via tools such as direct messaging and push notifications.

Similarly, drivers can use the software to stay in touch with each other to provide real-time traffic information, delivery information, equipment specs, and customer details.

Such communication features even extend fleet capabilities and mobility by giving drivers everything they need in one app.

Mobility

Man coming out of work Van

Fleet management software with mobile access gives drivers the tools and information they need to do their jobs efficiently and effectively.

In addition to the communication features mentioned in the previous section, fleet solutions with a driver portal make it easier for managers to assign tasks, redirect service techs, distribute schedules, provide route updates, submit reports, and monitor progress in real time.

Fleet management software can increase the mobility and utility of the fleet and improve the overall responsiveness and agility of the business.

Sustainability

Many fleets now rely on electric vehicles (EVs) to supplement or even replace their gas and diesel fleet.

A good fleet solution can help monitor everything that goes into maintaining an electric fleet, including:

  • Charging time
  • Battery health
  • Route optimization for access to charging stations
  • Vehicle-to-grid options (that allow fleet assets to feed power back to the grid during peak demand periods)

These same sustainability features can also be applied to help businesses manage other alternative fuel and technology solutions, such as hybrid powertrains, biofuels, the business’s carbon footprint, and even the overall life of each mobile asset in the fleet.

Scalability

Another important aspect of fleet management software is its ability to grow with the business and be effective at any scale. Look for fleet solutions that make it possible to access business data anywhere, anytime, and from any device.

This type of scalability makes it easier to expand and contract business operations based on the ups and downs of the industry and the business market as a whole.

Accessibility

In much the same way that cloud-based fleet solutions can help with mobility and making sure drivers have what they need while on the road, those same cloud-based tools can help the support staff who work in the office.

Online and web-based services often eliminate the need for specialized on-site hardware and software, thereby reducing the cost and physical impact of purchasing expensive equipment.

Predictive Analytics

Fleet software with predictive analytics allows managers to analyze both historical and current data to predict (and ultimately avoid) potential problems, such as vehicle breakdowns, engine failures, and traffic congestion (just to name a few).

These advanced tools can help managers avoid costly disruptions to the fleet and all its vehicles.

Prioritize Fuel And Expense Management With Coast

Prioritize Fuel And Expense Management With Coast

For transportation and field service fleets, fuel and expense management is one of the simplest fleet solutions to implement, but is also one of the most effective for reducing costs business wide.

And, with the Coast fleet and fuel card, managers can utilize all three types of fleet solutions (fuel cards, telematics, and fleet management software) for improved control and insight into all mobile assets.

Coast offers smart fleet cards that can help fleet managers control spending, track expenses, and get a rebate on every gallon of fuel. Coast cards can be used anywhere Visa is accepted, so drivers won’t have to venture off the optimized route to get fuel.

To learn more about how Coast can benefit fleet-based businesses, visit CoastPay.com today.