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Fleet Management Challenges and How to Get Past Them

overcoming fleet management challenges

by Titan GPS

Fleet management is an extremely fast-growing industry. It’s predicted to go from $20.6 billion USD in 2021 to $33.9 billion in 2026, a CAGR of 10.5%. And as fleet management evolves, we’re seeing a heavier adoption of advanced technologies and increasing challenges to keep up competitively. 

Today’s fleet managers have a lot on their plates, and it takes a very distinct skill set to thrive. This post will examine what’s truly involved with being a fleet manager, some of the top fleet management challenges, and how to overcome them. 

What Does a Fleet Manager Do?

You probably already know what a job description for this career looks like. Typical fleet manager responsibilities include:

  • Vehicle maintenance
  • Vehicle licensing and insurance
  • Vehicle and equipment tracking
  • Driver route planning
  • Driver safety
  • Overall cost management and reduction

But when you look closer, there’s a lot more to it than simply overseeing these daily tasks. To be a successful fleet manager, a person needs to be a big picture thinker, understanding how various pieces fit together to create a well-run fleet. They need to be logistics-minded and know how to effectively coordinate a complex operation of drivers, vehicles, and equipment — all while accounting for inevitable curveballs along the way. 

This role has changed a lot over the years and will continue to evolve. Therefore, a big part of fleet management efficiency is being highly adaptive and capable of using new technology like fleet management software and performing digital fleet management to keep a company running at a high level. COVID, combined with an increasingly digitized infrastructure, has also forced many fleet managers to get comfortable with dealing with drivers remotely, and that’s a trend that will only increase moving forward. 

Challenges a Fleet Manager Faces Every Day

Put that all together, and five main fleet management challenges must be dealt with. Here’s an overview of each, along with potential solutions. 


 

Fuel Management: Addressing Fuel Cost Fluctuations

Average retail price for regular, unleaded gasoline at self-service stations in Canada from January 2015 to August 2021 (Canadian cents per liter). Source: Statista

“Fuel is the second-largest total cost of ownership expense after depreciation,” explains Mike Antich of Automotive Fleet. “In terms of operating costs, fuel represents, on average, 60% of a company’s total fleet operating budget, which makes it crucial to manage this expense to keep the fleet budget from getting out-of-kilter.” Given the inherently volatile nature of fuel costs, fleet managers must always contend with fluctuations. Just look at this graph illustrating the average price for fuel at self-service stations in Canada over the last six and a half years.

There can be massive price swings, meaning one of the most important fleet manager responsibilities is fuel management and reducing fuel costs. While there are numerous ways to accomplish this, fleet management software has proven to be a highly effective solution for keeping fuel costs down. Fleet managers can, for example, run reports on operations, fuel consumption, and driver routes to generate intelligent data. From there, they can optimize routes for drivers to reduce fuel and save time for lower costs and increased productivity. 


 

Time Spent on Administrative Tasks

Fleet managers spend, on average, 40% of their time throughout the workweek on administrative tasks. Without the right system and efficient technology in place, paperwork can be incredibly time-consuming. What’s worse, it diminishes a fleet manager’s ability to do what’s most important — lead their team. 

To reduce time spent on administrative tasks, fleet managers have been trending toward embracing cutting-edge technology, such as:

  • Digitized forms to conveniently manage and file documents
  • Digital vehicle and equipment inspections
  • Cloud-based solutions to track material quantity and distribution
  • Real-time incident reporting with automatic notifications 

These types of features make fleet operations far more efficient and can free up a significant amount of time for managers, enabling them to focus more on leadership. 


 

Acting Based on Data Insights

Another of today’s critical fleet management skills is executing smart decisions based on data insights. Fleet management software, analytics platforms, and many other forms of technology can generate incredibly detailed insights. The key is to act on the data in the most efficient way.

And this starts by implementing a fully integrated solution that captures a wealth of information and translates it into detailed yet intuitive reports that are easy to digest. The end goal is to gain actionable insights that allow a fleet manager to make informed decisions to optimize every aspect of operations. Most people find that platforms with strong visuals make it simple to absorb data so they can seamlessly implement solutions to refine their fleet and put every single team member in a position to thrive.  

One specific application of data is monitoring vehicle idling. This allows a fleet manager to see which drivers spend too much time idling and which ones are hitting their target. By looking at historical data objectively, they’ll know which drivers need to take corrective action to improve performance, which can be huge for increasing profitability.


 

Managing Drivers/Communication with the Drivers

A fleet’s success ultimately depends on its drivers. So a leader’s ability to manage and maintain close communication is vital. This can include: 

  • Setting schedules for dozens, hundreds, or even thousands of drivers
  • Helping drivers choose optimal routes
  • Logging hours to ensure the maximum number of hours aren’t exceeded
  • Overseeing driver safety
  • Providing ongoing training and feedback
  • Ensuring proper documents are filled out

Fleet management solutions can help with this area in a few different ways. One is with driver dispatching, where a manager can analyze service call duration and identify inefficient routes to improve future routing. Another is monitoring driver behavior to pinpoint safety issues such as speeding and aggressive driving and poor habits like excessive idling. This allows a fleet manager to quickly find educational opportunities to make their fleet safer while reducing fuel consumption. 

Some platforms even offer in-cab audible coaching so drivers can be reminded of company policies and best practices in real-time. That way, problem behaviors aren’t allowed to linger and can be quickly modified.


 

Remote Fleet Management

The final challenge to overcome is remote fleet management. As we said earlier, we’re in an era where fleets are becoming increasingly remote where drivers may be scattered all over North America. While even managing a small fleet with just a handful of drivers can be difficult, it becomes incredibly complex when dealing with a large-scale operation. A leader always has a bird’s-eye view of what’s happening and can seamlessly coordinate activities to keep everyone on the same page. 

Again, fleet management software can help here as well, with some of the more notable features including:

  • Web-based GPS tracking for total visibility of a fleet 
  • Intuitive Google Mapping
  • Real-time access to road and highway cameras
  • Incident and closure reporting
  • Real-time alerts on driver behavior regardless of location
  • Automated maintenance tracking based on odometer readings, engine hours, or calendar

What Makes a Great Fleet Manager?

Being a successful fleet manager extends far beyond the daily tasks you find in a job description. These leaders are part of a rapidly advancing industry where technology is becoming increasingly integrated. They must possess the right skillset and be able to continually adapt and meet challenges head-on. 

One of the main ways this is done is by implementing fleet management software, which has many applications, including minimizing fuel consumption, reducing time spent on administrative tasks, improving communication with drivers (especially those working remotely), and more. 

 

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