A fleet manager who is willing to interpret data and adapt their fleet accordingly can be a unique asset to a utility company.
Fleet managers—responsible for selecting, purchasing, and maintaining a company’s fleet— have an enormous influence over how those vehicles affect their company’s bottom line. They have the ability to limit maintenance costs, increase fuel efficiency, minimize liability, and even bump productivity with dynamic routing techniques. A fleet manager willing to interpret data and adapt their fleet accordingly can be a unique asset to a utility company. Here’s a guide outlining several things fleet managers can do to be successful.
Over time, a utility company can lose a lot of money from reckless driving habits. Speeding tickets, accidents, inferior fuel efficiency, and worn-down brake pads can all accumulate company costs and take a toll on its fleet. Your position as a fleet manager is to positively influence driving habits. If you do this effectively, you can cut down on vehicle maintenance, repair, and replacement costs as well as improve employee safety. There are several ways you can go about getting the best from your drivers. What follows are two techniques we believe stand atop that list.
Telematics, or GPS fleet tracking, is a technology used to monitor drivers. Telematics devices are typically small “black boxes” or cubes that can be placed inside a vehicle’s glove or central compartment. Once activated, you should be able to identify which drivers are costing the fleet the most money because of poor driving habits. You can monitor a vehicle’s GPS position, speed, fuel consumption, and idling, as well as habits like acceleration, braking, and turning. In many cases, telematics can be synchronized to fleet and field management software. This allows driver habits and vehicle information to be accessed in a single central database.
Another technique fleet managers can use to sharpen their drivers’ habits is incentive programs. Motivate your team to drive safely and adhere to best practices for fuel efficiency by offering weekly or monthly recognition for the best drivers, or special access to the fleet’s finest vehicles. Fleet managers should talk to their supervisors about what other incentives are feasible, too. Believe it or not, incentive programs are not just about dangling rewards in front of employees. In the long term, they help positive habits take root and develop a culture driven by and committed to ideals that benefit the whole company.
Motivate your team to drive safely and adhere to best practices for fuel efficiency by offering weekly or monthly recognition for the best drivers, or special access to the fleet’s finest vehicles.
As a fleet manager, you’re responsible for keeping track of a substantial amount of information. You need to constantly update and maintain detailed files and data on all your vehicles. Data like registrations and inspections, maintenance records, and gas receipts. You may also be keeping track of driving incidents—traffic violations, accidents, and other miscellaneous costs on the road. Keeping all this information in hanging files and manila folders is downright inefficient. In addition, it may also be detrimental to your company in the long term. Uploading detailed files onto a digital database makes them more accessible for everyone. It ensures they won’t get lost, misplaced, or accidentally trashed.
One of the best ways for you to carry out the conversion of paper to digital files is by using one of the latest fleet management software. These programs allow fleet managers and their colleagues to input and access detailed notes on all their fleet vehicles. Some of these notes include VIN numbers, tags, who the vehicle is currently assigned to, and what project it’s working on. For fleet managers like you, centralized, hyper-accessible data on your fleet means fewer mistakes, increased control, and greater peace of mind.
If you’re keeping records on all your vehicles and using telematics, you’re going to have a lot of data at your disposal. For fleet managers, the key is to act on that information without overreacting to it.
Telematics data can help to find drivers who are costing the company with irresponsible road habits. If someone on your team is wearing down your vehicles’ brake pads and amassing traffic violations, you don’t need to discipline them immediately (though you can). Instead, let them know the costs of their fast and loose driving. Knowledge is powerful. Communicating your findings may do as much (or more) for changing behavior than a reprimand from supervisors. In addition, metrics like cost per mile, total annual maintenance cost, and departmental cost per vehicle offers insight into overhead.
Knowledge is powerful. Communicating your findings may do as much (or more) for changing behavior than a reprimand from supervisors.
Carefully interpret the data and come up with questions and potential changes to consider. How much could you save per mile if you gradually phased out your current fleet for more fuel-efficient vehicles? How much would you save if your vehicles went 8,000 miles instead of 6,000 between oil changes? Are there ways to shave down cost per vehicle without compromising the quality of the product or service? Data can inspire meaningful, actionable questions like these. The best fleet managers know how to leverage that data without letting it overwhelm their daily operations.
In field service, nearly every service technician, engineer, repairman, and installation pro needs a vehicle. Fleet managers control vital assets. Because these vehicles are so integral to daily workflow, they use a significant portion of company budgets. By using data collection and analysis and consistently communicating with drivers, fleet managers can find savvy ways to save money. And by leveraging all the latest technology out there—including telematics and fleet management software — they can keep their drivers safer and more responsible on the roads. Fleet managers should embrace practical technology to pinpoint subtle differences in things like fuel efficiency, routing, and maintenance. This small measure can create major value for your company.
All monitored by you, in real time. Are you ready to take control?