Running a fleet of vehicles is no easy task, especially when you’re also trying to run a business. Whether you’re a plumbing or HVAC service, a landscaper, or any other organization with multiple vehicles and drivers, it’s hard enough to respond to clients and keep things rolling without also having to worry about fleet maintenance, fuel cards, avoiding traffic and monitoring mileage.
When you’re in charge of a fleet of vehicles, your hands are more than full, so it’s important to know which of your own activities are wasting your valuable time and resources. In this article, we’ll identify the most common inefficiencies that fleet managers encounter, and provide practical solutions that boost productivity. With less time spent on distractions and details, you can focus on delivering high quality customer service.
Manual Paperwork and Documentation
Everyone who’s ever managed the personnel records, time sheets, and reports required to stay in compliance with fleet management knows that manual paperwork and documentation is an enormous drain on time. Added on to the problem of inaccuracies and incomplete information is the fact that the forms that the manager needs are often missing — and drivers are off work and not about to answer their phones to answer questions about their mileage logs or to search for lost fuel receipts. Paper-based systems are an invitation to errors and delays, and represent a considerable waste of time.
Solution: Embrace Digital Fleet Management Tools
There are plenty of excellent digital fleet management software platforms and mobile applications that streamline administrative tasks and provide a centralized platform for monitoring and managing all of your documentation tasks. Some options include Fleetio, Geotab, GPSWOX, and Samsara. Each has its own benefits and features, so make sure you choose the one that best meets your needs. Whichever you decide on, implementing electronic logs, automated maintenance schedules, and digital record-keeping will not only save you time, but will also reduce errors and provide real-time access to critical data.
Ineffective Routing and Dispatching
Without an optimized route, drivers can face unnecessary traffic congestion, unexpected road closures,and other delays that lead to increased operational costs. Inefficient route planning and dispatching does more than waste time and fuel: it also leaves your clients waiting for the service they expected – and that can lead to bad reviews, canceled contracts, and lost profits.
Solution: Utilize Fleet Telematics, GPS, and Fleet Tracking Systems
Invest in fleet telematics. These state-of-the-art systems combine telecommunications and informatics to work with GPS and onboard sensors. They track your vehicles’ location and respond with real-time data and traffic conditions that optimize your drivers’ routes. Fleet managers using telematics technology from Samsara, Verizon Connect, Geotab, and others can switch customer queues, change driving routes, reassign drivers, and communicate up-to-date information to drivers in the moment, ultimately saving time, enhancing efficiency, and improving both morale and customer satisfaction.
Fuel is a key expense for many businesses with fleets, but it’s also one of the most difficult to manage. Inefficient fuel management can lead to significant waste and even underperformance. Moreover, many legacy fuel card providers don’t provide real-time tracking of fuel transactions in their software offerings. This lack of visibility makes it more difficult for fleet owners to track their spending and identify opportunities for savings.
Solution: Consider a Next-Generation Fleet and Fuel Card
To get increased visibility into how much your fleet spends on fuel and how efficiently it uses it, you’ll need a solution that allows you to track vehicle usage in real time. A modern fuel card like Coast provides unprecedented control over fleet and fuel spending, as well as real-time visibility into transactions and key data points like vehicle MPG.
Manual Vehicle Inspections
Performing manual inspections may not have been a big deal back when you were a one-man shop. But now that your business has grown and you’re dealing with a fleet of vehicles, that small task has become an incredibly time-consuming responsibility. Inspecting each individual vehicle takes up a lot of valuable time, and haste or distractions can easily lead to oversights or missed maintenance issues.
Solution: Automate Vehicle Inspection Processes
Instead of taking the time to conduct inspections on your own – or entrusting it to those who may not realize its importance – consider implementing digital vehicle inspection tools or apps that streamline the process, save time, and minimize errors. These easy-to-use tools let drivers conduct inspections using their smartphones or tablets, capturing and documenting issues seamlessly and with little interruption to their day or schedule. As a bonus, automated inspections also schedule maintenance tasks automatically, eliminating that added step while at the same time improving overall fleet safety. Several fleet management apps include this feature, including Fleetio, UpKeep, and ManagerPlus.
Reactive Maintenance Practices
Unexpected breakdowns wreak havoc on your schedule. Not only does it force you to seek unscheduled maintenance that may not be readily available, but you also have to scramble to find another vehicle to make sure your original schedule is being adhered to. Costly repairs, extended vehicle downtime, and operational disruptions all represent a significant drain on time and resources.
Solution: Adopt Proactive Maintenance Strategies
The proactive maintenance schedules and automated inspections provided by fleet management platforms and apps keep your preventive maintenance up-to-date, minimizing the chances of unexpected breakdowns and resulting disruptions and expense. By scheduling maintenance based on vehicle usage and manufacturer recommendations, fleet management software helps fleet managers prevent these major issues, reducing downtime, keeping clients and drivers happy, and optimizing the efficiency of their fleet.
Knowing what wastes your time and resources is the key to helping your fleet-based business operate more efficiently. Remember, time saved is money earned, so invest in strategies and technologies that optimize your fleet’s performance and ensure your business stays ahead of the competition.
Coast can help you address these top time-wasters by providing financial tools that can streamline your operation, boost productivity, and optimize your fleet spending. If you’re ready to get unprecedented control and real-time visibility of your fuel spend, apply to Coast today.