The 9 Best Practices for Managing Trucking Fleets
Let’s be honest. Today’s fleet managers live in a word of stressful situations. Fluctuating fuel costs, strict budgets and new regulations, average doesn’t cut it anymore. Because of this, fleet managers are being challenged to reduce expenses, eliminate discrepancies and improve their bottom line.
A highly efficient fleet management company can make all the difference. By keeping assets in peak condition, freights can be transported not just on time but under budget as well.
Regardless of operation size, there are various opportunities to control costs and reduce expenses without compromising service quality. In this blog, we’ll be discussing nine practices every fleet manager should explore in order to run a more efficient operation.
1. Financial Tracking
To tackle the first aspect, it’s almost impossible to control costs if you don’t see them coming in or out. Understanding where the money is going is the first step in effectively managing your budget. The larger the trucking fleets, the more difficult it is to track the key aspects of your business that are slipping through the cracks.
Managing a fleet involves a tremendous amount of reporting – parts, work orders, purchase orders and warranties. However, a substantial amount of information is needed to determine how long it takes a technician to complete a job, which tires need to be replaced or what equipment needs to be repaired.
Accuracy is your greatest weapon in reducing waste and preventing problems before they arise. Here are some examples of components in your fleet that you should monitor and identify opportunities for improvement:
- Driver Data
2. Preventative Maintenance
Conducting regular, preventative maintenance checks is a great way to keep your vehicles functioning at optimum levels. This can also extend to your business’s productivity and profitability.
According to Automotive Fleet, maintenance costs rank second in terms of expenses behind fuel. It’s wise to spend a small amount of time and money on a regular basis to keep everything in top shape. Not only does this reduce the potential of costly repairs but can reduce insurance rates and absorb potential costs of downtime.
3. Clear Policies and Standards
From the driver to the dispatcher, all levels of personnel should be held to clear standards not only for their position but the fleet’s overall performance. It’s important to have a written, consistent set of guidelines and training materials available to ensure transparency across the fleet’s operations. The same process applies to your fleet’s safety standards.
The most important aspect to safeguard is accountability. Keep in mind your procedures need to be engaging and measurable. And, managing trucking fleets requires you to stay current on all incoming transportation law and policy changes.
4. Consistent Regulatory Compliance
Being able to pass compliance with flying colors is a key element in managing trucking fleets. From vehicle registration and insurance to licensing and driving logs, your inspection reports should always be easily accessible. The US Department of Transportation, as well as other authorities, will require various documents on your vehicles, drivers and insurance coverage in order to be compliant.
5. Continuous Training and Development
It’s not only important to have good training programs in place for onboarding new personal but also to offer continuing education opportunities to help them hone in on their skills. Certification programs for specific aptitudes are a great way to show a company’s investment in their employees. It also benefits your business in the long run, ensuring your fleet us up-to-date on all the safety and tech features in the industry.
6. Appropriate Vehicle Replacement Cycles
As we mentioned earlier, forecasting potential costs and repairs is everything. A vehicle may cost more upfront. However, developing a replacement cycle using a life-cycle analysis can help you better predict the time of replacement – minimizing long-term costs while assuring the safety of your fleet.
To conduct a life-cycle analysis for your fleet, you’ll need to consider vehicles’ depreciation, maintenance, fuel, overhead and resale value. As a rule of thumb, you’ll find that newer vehicles are typically more advanced, produce fewer emissions and can help you get the most out of your fuel consumption.
7. Cross-Channel Communication
Managing trucking fleets, one of your main responsibilities is communicating performance to the team in relation to its goals. Having data to support your decision making while identifying areas of opportunity is curial to your success.
Communicating performance to your team creates an atmosphere of transparency. Not only are you revealing your strengths and weaknesses but can build cases when you need more resources or personnel to complete a job.
8. Performance KPIs
A key performance indicator (KPI) helps fleet managers manager their performance against specific goals. KPIs can help you evaluate the success of activities like accident frequency and work cost recovery. Fleet management software like Kamion can provide the data you need to develop and track these metrics so you can create benchmarks for improvement. You can assess KPI rate per mile, track individual trucks, a driver's performance and even identify any dormant equipment.
9. Automated Processes
Automating internal processes is another way fleet managers can reduce costs, save time and standardize tasks across all channels. Investing in fleet management software like Kamion can help you track every aspect from breakdown reports and vehicle inspections to customer details and streamlined reporting. As a rule of thumb, the more tasks can be automated, the more time you’ll have to spend on streamlining your fleet operations.
10. Leveraging Technology
As you may have noticed in the passing years, the world of trucking fleets is always changing. Because of these, we encourage fleet managers to educate themselves on new technology and industry improvements. In order to make the best decisions for your fleet, you’ll need to analyze the data. And in order to do that, you’ll need to enlist the help of highly intelligent fleet management software.
This helps you identify which vehicles and/or drivers are draining resources, which areas are producing better than others, and equipment that will need to be replaced in the pipeline.
When managing trucking fleets, you’ll notice every company has its own set of guidelines and policies. However, there’s always room for improvement. To learn how you can fine-tune and streamline your fleet operations, we invite you to schedule a free demo of our software!