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Just imagine how much better your job as a Fleet Manager would be if someone gave you back five to 24 hours a week. Think about how you could use it on more important things; things that will help you further your business.

Fleet management systems (FMS) can’t turn back time or create more of it for you, but this technology will free up the time you have to focus on being a Fleet Manager rather than a recordkeeper.

Unfortunately, many Fleet Managers see fleet management systems as a threat, a replacement for what they do. In reality, a fleet management system is a tool that supports Fleet Managers by automating the routine administrative tasks that distract them from fleet strategy and management.

It enables Fleet Managers to save time on some administrative, repetitive tasks to spend more time on strategy, planning and processes, making them more valuable to their employers.

Fleet Managers who have relied on pens, paper and excel sheets to run their fleets, often say, “Wow – I didn’t know this about my fleet, I need to fix that right now,” when introduced to a fleet management system.

Without a fleet management system that tracks and presents data in easy-to-read reports, Fleet Managers have no way of knowing the many blind spots they have to steer through to manage their drivers and vehicles.

Embrace a fleet management system as part of your toolkit

A fleet management system keeps Fleet Managers’ jobs safe because it provides them with the opportunity to improve efficiency and reduce costs with strategic decisions based on current, accurate fleet data and reports.

History provides us with some perspective on this fear of machines replacing humans. When Fleet Managers saw their first personal computers about 35 years ago, they were scared that the new machines would make them redundant.

Decades later, can any Fleet Manager think of managing a fleet without a PC or laptop? Automation helped in managing the business better.

It’s all about capacity and capability

Fleet Managers who use a fleet management system appreciate it as being their “single source of truth” for all fleet-related data and reports. These systems are designed to track, keep records, calculate and automatically produce reports and insights at scale.

However, what fleet management systems can never do, no matter how sophisticated they are is, think, negotiate, have the conversations, make decisions and take actions that benefit the business, its fleet and its drivers.

Every company that owns a fleet still needs a Fleet Manager to use their experience and knowledge to turn the data and insights provided by the system into effective business decisions, to drive strategy and resolve issues.

Let’s look at what companies gain when their Fleet Managers embrace fleet management systems as the tool it was designed to be:

  1. Improve efficiencies and optimise: A fleet management system tracks your company’s vehicle-related costs, from fuel consumption, maintenance, insurance, training and repairs to licensing and penalties/fines. Fleet managers can pull up reports and use this data to identify patterns and take the appropriate action required to reduce or manage costs, maintain vehicles, optimise vehicle usage and right-size their fleet. I can share several real-life instances where the lack of an efficient fleet management solution cost both the Fleet Manager and the company. In one example, an organisation’s truck engine blew up because no one noticed it had never been serviced, even with 120,000 km on the odometer. The repair cost far outweighed regular servicing. Similarly, in another instance, after putting a fleet management system in place, one Fleet Manager realised that one of his driver’s fuel consumption was 20 per cent higher than the company average. On further investigation, the fleet management system highlighted this driver was excessively speeding and taking the longest route between two points. The driver also idled the vehicle to keep it cool when visiting customers. You can imagine the time and money that insight saved the company.
  2. Time to think strategy: A fleet management system gives Fleet Managers instant access to the reports they can use to dynamically improve fleet efficiency. For example, during the pandemic, many fleet’s vehicle utilisation patterns changed as the demand for vehicles, offered services, and customer numbers varied daily. With access to current data, a Fleet Manager can reassess and respond to the changing circumstances efficiently and cost-effectively.
  3. Safety: Ensuring the safety of customers, drivers and vehicles is an integral part of a Fleet Manager’s role, a minor error on any front can cost lives and harm the company’s reputation and brand. Using a fleet management solution, allows Fleet Managers to track vehicle maintenance, monitor driver behaviour, reward drivers who meet safety targets and offer remedial training to those whose risky behaviour warrants it. When Fleet Managers reduce accidents, they’re also controlling the many costs associated with insurance, repairs, replacement and downtime (vehicle and employee downtime). In addition, a Fleet Manager’s ability to track infractions and penalties can help improve compliance to manage fines and the potential impact on insurance premiums.
  4. Cost and return on investment (ROI): Now more than ever, costs are a concern for most organisations and Fleet Managers often assume their company can’t afford a fleet management system or justify the time it will take to see the return on their investment. New generation fleet management system providers give Fleet Managers the flexibility to “cherry-pick” and pay only for the features and capabilities they need and will use. Fleet managers can commit to the most basic features and add on as they get more comfortable with the tool and as their business grows.
  5. Choice: Finding a solution that fits your needs and adds value to your role, fleet, and organisation is vital. Small fleets with niche products or services can use a single vehicle type and manufacturer to boost their purchasing power. Large fleets with a variety of vehicles from multiple manufacturers can opt for fleet management systems from a third-party provider whose solution can be easily installed across the majority of vehicle types.

Tools such as fleet management systems become a priceless asset in the hands of knowledgeable Fleet Managers. They are the appendages that can add hours to your busy day, be your eyes and ears when navigating the blind spots and provide you with all the fleet intelligence you need to shine on.

Sak Ryopponen is a Business Development Specialist of Motoring & Mobility with the RACV. This article was originally published on Intelematics and has been republished with permission.