When your fleet of vehicles is not properly maintained or utilised efficiently, the likelihood of downtime increases, productivity is significantly reduced and you find yourself spending money instead of making money. Improving your bottom line often starts with eliminating waste. Businesses involving fleets all face the same challenge – how to maximise uptime and productivity while at the same time cutting down on operational costs over the long term. The answer lies in having an effective fleet management program in place that will create efficiencies and cost savings for your company.
As we are confronted with some of the most difficult economic hurdles in decades, the need to shed costs for sustainability is vitally important if we are to emerge from these times leaner and stronger.
There are five core areas where a fleet management solution can save you money and increase the efficiency of your operations.
1. Fuel costs
The most obvious cost of operating a fleet of vehicles is fuel consumption. There is a misconception that you can’t control your fuel usage or fuel prices. With the recent introduction of the carbon tax and the ever increasing cost of fuel prices, fuel management simply has to be part of your business’ strategy, or your fuel expenses will chew through your profit margin before you know it.
The most important aspect of fuel management starts with your employees who have their foot on the gas pedal. Your drivers can control fuel consumption each time they ignite their engines, and proper training can improve fuel efficiency and emissions. Hard acceleration, speeding and excessive idling are the biggest causes of fuel waste.
All of this can be monitored and managed with a fleet management solution that generates comprehensive reports and real time alerts about fuel usage, distance travelled, idle time and speed amongst other things. Having access to this data provides fleet managers with the right tools to cut down on fuel expenses by instigating change that fosters better driving practices.
2. Fleet repair and maintenance
Fleet maintenance is an essential part of fleet management - but is also be an area where expenditures can quickly add up. If you are looking for ways to make your fleet maintenance more cost effective, having a fleet management system in place is a good starting point.
A proper fleet management solution sends fleet managers automatic reminders about when repairs and maintenance are due or required on each and every vehicle, making it easier for you to keep track of the maintenance schedule and ensure all vehicles are being serviced regularly.
It is also widely known that poor driving behavior causes a lot of damage to vehicles, which eventually require repairs, therefore adding onto your expenses. This is why being able to monitor and manage your employees driving behaviour is such a vital part of running your fleet in the most cost effective way possible. Having access to accurate, real-time and comprehensive data outlining details such as the speed of each vehicle, when a driver is idling for too long, who is braking harshly etcetera provides you with hard facts to remedy the situation and educate your drivers about best practices when they are on the road.
3. Asset utilisation
Using vehicles and equipment efficiently helps make companies aware of how the utilisation of those assets can best be optimised.
A fleet management solution will give you insights into how your vehicles and equipment are being used, the frequency at which they are being used and will also track their exact location. It is not uncommon for fleet managers to mistakenly buy or rent vehicles not knowing that they have a vehicle available somewhere that has not been used for quite a while just because it’s slipped off their radar.
Therefore poor asset utilisation not only results in businesses wasting money on buying or renting new equipment unnecessarily, but the net result is often missed opportunity because you think you don’t have the resources to take on additional work.
Over time, having access to asset utilisation data will help you make the most informed decision as to whether you need to buy more or retain fewer assets, subsequently improving your company’s productivity by eliminating the need to manually determine the location and availability of assets, which is both error-prone and expensive.
You get the most value from implementing a GPS fleet management system that will provide the visibility you need to ensure maximum productivity from your assets. With a GPS tracking system, you’ll also have visibility across your entire fleet to ensure assets are used only for authorised purposes, therefore increasing the efficiency of your operations and the capabilities to quickly recover stolen assets.
4. Your customers
As you already know, customers can make or break a company. That’s why keeping your customers happy is of utmost importance. A fleet management system can help you retain and attract more customers by raising the standard of your services.
A real-time GPS fleet management system enables you to remotely access and view the delivery status as well as the real-time location of all vehicles. The manager is therefore in a better position to provide accurate responses to customer queries as well as an improved communication channel with the entire fleet of vehicles. The direct two-way communication channel provided by the fleet management system enables fleet operators to re-route drivers in an instant, to either take the shortest route, or on to their next job. Similarly, if your business receives a last minute order, you have the capability to allocate the job to the closest vehicle and dispatch orders right away.
Being able to respond quickly to a customer inquiry is essential in improving customer relations. In the event of a delay, the driver can communicate directly with the dispatcher who can then relay this information back to the customer immediately.
Providing such a high standard of customer service means you’ll not only retain your existing customers but you will also eventually attract more business which will in turn significantly inflate your bottom line.
5. Do more with less
A fleet management system can help you increase your daily number of jobs by making your fleet operations work more efficiently.
The ability to communicate directly with the drivers by sending real time messages to the drivers’ GPS navigation system is often undervalued. Knowing the exact location of your vehicles means that you can assign the next job to the driver who is the closest to the site and you can also provide the driver with the shortest or most direct route thus saving time, resources and fuel costs. Time that is saved can be used to take on additional jobs therefore making the best use of your resources.
A fleet operation does not necessarily have to be a cost centre. Implementing a fleet management solution will help you transform the cost centre into a value generator for your business and capture clear return on investment.
Ian Daniel is the APAC vice president at Navman Wireless