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Fleet Management: What It Is and How to Succeed in 2020
6 min read

What is Fleet Management?

From groceries to produce to retail, ensure your fleet drivers are efficient and safe
From groceries to produce to retail, ensure your fleet drivers are efficient and safe

Fleet management is all the things a company does to productively operate vehicles and labor in support of a remote business objective like freight hauling, emergency services or delivery. The goal of fleet management is to improve efficiency, reduce costs, and ensure compliance with government regulations. Where customers are involved, fleet management helps ensure a high quality customer experience.

All fleet companies (a.k.a. companies that manage commercial vehicles) practice some form of fleet management. Many of these companies use fleet management software to help them achieve their objectives.

In this article, we’ll go over:

What does a fleet manager do?

What are the benefits of a fleet management system?

Choosing a fleet management solution

What does a fleet manager do?

Fleet managers are responsible for managing all fleet operations, including but not limited to:

  • Evaluating and purchasing fleet vehicles
  • Managing fleet costs
  • Hiring and managing fleet labor
  • Creating optimized routes
  • Dispatching fleet vehicles
  • Communicating with drivers
  • Tracking fleet performance
  • Promoting driver safety

Let’s go over each of these in more detail:

Evaluating and purchasing fleet vehicles

A fleet manager has to plan when and what new vehicles need to be purchased to keep the fleet operational. Many factors come into play here:

  • Current capacity and forecasting future demand accounting
  • Market conditions
  • Class and size of vehicles
  • Job the vehicle needs to do/the load it has to bear
  • Geographical area in which it works

Fleet managers need to negotiate vehicle prices with suppliers, equip them properly for the operation (ie temperature sensors, etc.) and secure adequate insurance. This is a significant step in reducing long-term costs.

Managing fleet costs

A fleet manager is responsible for budgeting and controlling all the costs associated with their fleet operations. It’s their job to identify costs that can be reduced or removed so that the fleet is more profitable.

Some examples:

Fuel management

  • Improving load/unload and stop efficiency
  • Finding unnecessary expenses and replacing them with more cost-effective solutions

Remember: The ultimate goal of fleet management is efficient fleet operations. From fuel costs to maintenance to time spent scheduling, expenses add up fast.

Creating optimized routes

Planning efficient, optimal routes for drivers is a key activity for fleet managers. But planning a route isn’t a one-and-done job. Even after a route has been created, there are endless hurdles that might arise and force drivers to take a different route. Day-to-day traffic changes, accidents, road closures, as well as major disruptions like those caused by COVID-19. This can happen before a driver has been dispatched, or once they’re already on the road. Fleet managers need to be able to proactively identify these events and intervene to avoid costly delays, bottlenecked deliveries, unhappy drivers, and unhappy customers.

What this looks like:

To help fleet managers, Onfleet’s route optimization engine considers time, location, capacity, and traffic to produce the most efficient route for deliveries. And if a manager needs to make changes to the route, updates are sent to drivers in real-time.

Route optimization and driver efficiencies are built into a dashboard
Route optimization and driver efficiencies are built into a dashboard

Dispatching fleet vehicles

Onfleet's software helps you dispatch efficiently
Onfleet's software helps you dispatch efficiently

Dispatch is the process of assigning drivers to vehicles and routes. There are myriad variables involved. Without the aid of software, this turns into a detailed and cumbersome pen-and-paper process.

Fleet management software streamlines dispatch by planning routes and assigning drivers as logically and cost-effectively as possible—something impossible to do manually.  

What this looks like:

Onfleet consolidates routing and dispatch operations into a single clean web dashboard. Once a route optimization has been performed, the routes are assigned to available drivers, with the objective of maximizing the stops per route. Rather than a paper route sheet, driver have an always up to date list of stops on their mobile app, dramatically service times and minimizing labor costs.

Managing compliance

Legislation and regulations change constantly, and keeping up with them is critical for fleet companies to avoid paying substantive penalties or suffering unnecessary delays.

These regulations contain vital information around vehicle weights, towing and load limits, and hazardous materials transport—all things fleet companies need to track daily. Larger commercial vehicles are often subject to vehicle inspections and audits, so ensuring compliance is especially important.  

In many cases, fleet managers must also implement ELD compliant systems to log hours drivery duty status changes. These systems must be integrated into the commercial vehicle’s engine to accurately track drive segments.

Communicating with drivers

Communication between drivers and dispatch operations is particularly important for a fleet manager. Weather, traffic and other operational changes can wreak havoc on routes when appropriate two-way and real-time communication tools are not in place.

Fleet managers should be able to proactively communicate with drivers considering real-time information about their driver’s statuses and locations. Onfleet includes a private, secure chat platform to enable this communication.

Communications between your drivers, fleet managers, and customers aid efficiency
Communications between your drivers, fleet managers, and customers aid efficiency

Tracking fleet performance

Tracking fleet performance is complex no matter the fleet’s size. Onfleet empowers fleet managers to proactively track delivery statuses, delays and route progress and monitor real-time traffic conditions. Fleet managers receive accurate predictive arrival and completion times and real-time alerts so changes and communication can happen proactively instead of reactively.
Unlike standalone routing engines, Onfleet’s predictive ETAs provide a dynamic estimate for every stop in a route, and update them throughout the day as real conditions change.

Predictive ETAs help drivers, fleet managers, and customers in the delivery process
Predictive ETAs help drivers, fleet managers, and customers in the delivery process

Promoting driver safety

A fleet manager always has to consider the safety of their drivers. They should know exactly where a given delivery vehicle is at any particular time.

In uncertain times such as COVID-19, this is challenging, especially when monitoring fleets of thousands of vehicles. Fleet managers depend on GPS technology to get visibility into the whereabouts of their vehicles, as well as to detect accidents and erratic or unsafe driving behavior. Onfleet’s integration with Zendrive allows a single app to provide fleet management and driver safety functions to their fleet.

ZenDrive monitors driver safety measures such as drive-time, speeding, phone usage
ZenDrive monitors driver safety measures such as drive-time, speeding, phone usage

What are the benefits of a fleet management system?

As we touched on earlier, fleet managers are accountable for finding and trimming unnecessary expenses to ensure a fleet company is operating in a cost-effective manner.

Having an intuitive management system in place will enable fleet companies to:

  • Obtain real-time 24/7 visibility into day-to-day operations with a universal dashboard
  • Increase customer and driver satisfaction with up-to-date delivery info
  • Increase productivity
  • Reduce fuel usage and costs
  • Deliver more packages (and deliver them on time)
  • Analyze team performance over time and make improvements as needed
  • Identify bottlenecks with predictive reporting metrics
  • Avoid legal problems by ensuring compliance with industry regulations
  • Keep drivers safe

Harnessing Technology To Help

Regardless of how big or small your fleet is, your challenges are complex—which is why over 75% of fleet managers use some sort of fleet management software or vehicle telematics to help support, according to Government Fleet’s annual benchmarking survey.

Choose a leading fleet management solution

Onfleet’s fleet management software provides end-to-end route planning, dispatch, communication, and an analytics platform that allows fleet managers to keep their business operating efficiently.

But you don’t have to take our word for it. Start your free trial today and see for yourself.