The biggest challenge that is facing commercial fleets across the country, including rental car operators and trucking companies, is developing a strategy that will help them to reduce operating costs while growing their business or operating in various types of economic cycles. Even in strong economic cycles, the pressure remains to cut costs due to the need to add more vehicles, increase training and safety programs, implement new environmental standards or simply grow profitability.
Fleet managers must develop the solution for these expectations that delivers on cost reduction without adversely impacting morale or productivity levels, which adds significant pressure. At the same time, there are other decisions within a commercial fleet business that have to be made:
- Maintenance concerns include increased costs of replacement parts, changes to what is covered under warranties, more vehicle recalls and rising tire prices.
- A large fleet company may find it difficult to instill a certain standard of efficiency, reliability, and service with so many employees and no way to track results.
- Driver productivity is important but often difficult to gauge without the right type of technology, including delivery time, gas consumption, safety and driver behavior and overall customer service.
- Unpredictable fuel prices are making it difficult to make decisions on fuel spending and how to minimize consumption. Driver behavior is important here as well as knowing how they drive, including engine idling, fast starts, speed limits and hard stops, can determine how vehicle costs are impacting the commercial fleet company.
While it is true that commercial fleet organizations have experienced some critical issues in recent years tied to economic conditions, there are also some exciting trends that are changing the face of what fleets can do in terms of performance, service, and operations. These trends toward technology are viewed as one of the ways to innovatively respond to regulatory pressures about safety and emissions.
Commercial fleet companies must make critical decisions for the short and long terms that meet their strategic objectives as well as respond to their various stakeholders.
Vehicle Maintenance and Management at Heart of Solution
Since commercial fleet companies have vehicles as their main asset â€“ and expense â€“ these need to be central to management and strategy. This means monitoring and reporting on vehicle maintenance cycles as well as other metrics that can help gauge driver and vehicle performance a swell as costs. Creating reports helps to track such important metrics as:
- Gas consumption and other expenses
- Basic maintenance like oil changes and tire rotations
- Repair work
- Recall notices
However, there are challenges that arise when gathering information for these commercial fleet reports:
- Drivers may forget to log information
- Information is tampered with or falsified
- Manual processes take a long time to prepare and there may be limited time and resources to produce the reports
- Automating the report process can help but the data could be compromised by human error, computer problems, hacking or natural disasters
Besides having greater costs, the inability to accurately track this information could essentially increase the risk and liability that the commercial fleet organization is facing. This is when technology can really make a difference.
Technology Solutions: Cloud-Based Vehicle Maintenance Management Systems
New cloud-based technology offers an affordable, convenient, easy-to-use and highly accurate solution for commercial fleets to address all their challenges and strategic objectives. These anytime, anywhere systems help to:
- Reduce human error
- Maintain the most accurate and up-to-date metrics on each vehicle
- Minimize costs
- Reduce risk and liability
- Enhance performance and productivity
- Increase efficiency
- Optimize routing
- Provide reports that help with strategic planning and tax purposes
- Identify areas for improvement
- Keep vehicle value for re-sale purposes
- Help respond to new environmental guidelines for commercial fleets
It is having benefits like these that can help you do more with less while growing your business and enhancing your reputation among your target audience.
What Cloud-Based Vehicle Maintenance Management Software Does
Hereâ€™s how this type of technology can work for your fleet:
- Any driver, including using a GPS chip in each vehicle to monitor mileage and other driver performance metrics, can access through the home office or on the road the data.
- The technology can deliver various reports on different aspects of each vehicleâ€™s performance and send updates and reminders about maintenance, recalls, and warranties.
- The GPS functionality can also help create new route options for the vehicles to avoid accidents or road closures to maintain delivery times.
- In being able to look at a lot more data that is updated on the go enables your companyâ€™s decision makers to make more informed decisions and identify those areas of improvement.
Determining the Ideal Vehicle Maintenance Management Technology
There are many types of vehicle maintenance management technology solutions now available. To decide which one works best for your fleet, be sure to check on the following features and capabilities before selecting the solution for your commercial fleet company:
- Ease of use
- Data analysis capability
- GPS tracking
- Time and resources needed
- Overall cost
- Estimated return on investment
All of these areas are important because the solution most likely has to work with limited resources and budget. Not all these features and functionality may be necessary now, but it is important to think about future growth and changes in your organization. Selecting carefully now means you should not have to add more technology in the future as you grow or your commercial fleet organization changes. Look at your current way of tracking vehicle performance and maintenance cycles and see if you can use any of these new cloud-based vehicle maintenance management solutions to make better decisions and enhance your overall commercial fleet operations. Those that have migrated to these new solutions are reporting increased efficiencies, better cost containment, improved service, greater revenues and a better reputation with their target audience.