This year has been exponentially more stressful in general than any in recent memory. The COVID-19 pandemic hasn’t merely caused us panic and ill-health: it’s also spawned major changes to everything from how we work to how we spend our free time. It’s understandable, then, that businesses owners have struggled to adapt (though many have thrived).
In these arduous times, then, it’s vitally important to do everything we can to operate efficiently and as painlessly as possible. This reduces the likelihood of burnout (which is a major threat these days) and helps businesses keep going in a global recession that may drag on for years.
To that end, this piece is going to focus on the implementation of fleet management methods — more specifically, how it can help companies (particularly those in the transport industry) with reducing their costs, improving their profits, and overcoming obstacles. Let’s get started.
Fuel cards can lower operational costs
One of the biggest expenses for any company with major transport requirements will always be fuel. Regardless of which fuel type you prefer, you’ll likely need to issue payments on a daily basis, and this can be an awkward process. You can save money if you use a single source with a cheaper arranged rate, but that won’t help you when things go awry and you need to refuel elsewhere. This is why fuel cards may be worth investing in.
A fuel card is similar to a credit card, only it’s linked to an account intended specifically to pay for fuel. Many fuel and pump brands offer their own unique fuel cards (you can see a range of them here), with each conferring distinct benefits. You may be able to get a cheaper rate on a certain type of fuel, or get a discount every time you refuel at a particular type of station.
Since some fuel cards cost nothing to use, and others have modest monthly fees, it’s extremely likely that you’d benefit financially from giving your fleet drivers fuel cards. It would also track your fuel payments automatically, which could save you some tedious admin work.
GPS tracking can bolster route optimization
If you’re not tracking where your vehicles go, you may be making a serious mistake. Barring the occasional exception (needing to travel down a specific road at a specific time in a specific manner, for instance), there’s always something you can do to make your travel routes more efficient and economical.
This is about going beyond simply paying close attention to traffic and using things like Google Maps to good effect. It’s about logging all your routes and reviewing them afterwards to figure out how they could have been handled better. Could you have yielded better results by making the driver’s start time slightly earlier or slightly later?
There are plenty of viable IoT systems out there (here are some suggestions), so look for one that suits your situation and budget, then make it a core part of your operational review process.
Telematics can simplify insurance claims
Encompassing a lot of information, the point of a modern telematics system (going beyond the GPS tracking we just looked at) is to collect as much useful data as possible. Installing a good telematics unit on each fleet vehicle will allow you to form a timeline of events: when the vehicle slowed down, when it sped up, when the driver applied the brake, when they swerved, etc.
This information isn’t just handy for the aforementioned route optimization process. It’s also handy for dealing with any safety incidents that arise. In the event of a crash, for instance, having access to telematics data can confirm that your driver acted appropriately and wasn’t at fault. This can make it so much easier to get the warranted payout.
It does require your drivers to be resolutely professional, of course, and can work against you if you have an inadequate hiring process (as in this case) — but if you use lazy or poorly-trained drivers then you have much bigger problems than fleet management. Invest in your drivers, then use their skills to your advantage through telematics.
In the end, fleet management is all about making your business transport processes as simple, easy, cheap and productive as you can manage. If you just need the occasional van journey that you don’t need to worry too much about it — but if you have anything more than a handful of vehicles traveling semi-regularly for business, you can certainly benefit by investigating fleet management hardware and accompanying software.