A good fleet management company can make all the difference in the success of the businesses that retain them, by keeping fleet vehicles and assets in peak condition, routes and services on time and under budget, and customers and stakeholders happy. The best fleet management professionals are also capable of keen analysis, and are able to learn from the past in order to plan for the future, in order to limit costs while increasing efficiency and satisfaction.
Although the specific scope of work and the details involved in any particular fleet management application may differ, all top fleet management companies incorporate a variety of best practices in their operations, which are meant to improve productivity, keep costs down, mitigate risks, and ensure reliability for the businesses they serve.
Preventative maintenance: Doing regularly scheduled preventative maintenance can go a long way toward keeping vehicles and assets functioning optimally, and good fleet asset management can make all the difference to the productivity and profitability of the business. When it comes to reliability and overall cost of ownership, spending a minor bit of time and money on a regular basis to keep everything in tip-top shape promotes safe operations which will in-turn reduce insurance rates. This is far better than having to absorb the cost and extra downtime from a bigger malfunction or repair job at a later time.
Clear standards and policies: All levels of fleet management, from the driver to the mechanic to the dispatcher and beyond, should be held to clear standards for not only their position, but also the fleet's performance overall. Having written standards and a set of guidelines and training materials available for each aspect of the operation, and having all pertinent policies posted clearly for both the fleet team and the customer will help ensure transparency and consistency across the board.
The same mindset applies to safety standards. The biggest key to setting a policy for safety is to hold each other accountable. Your procedures should be engaging and measureable. In fact, it is proven that by implementing a policy, you will experience accelerated growth in the public transportation industry.
Regulatory compliance: Being able to prove compliance with all applicable regulations that cover fleet activities is a key element of fleet management, and everything from vehicle registration and insurance, to operator licensing and certification, to driving logs and inspection reports, should be easily accessible. The US Department of Transportation, as well as state and local authorities, will require various documentation of vehicles, drivers, and insurance coverage in order to be lawful for service, and both state and federal governments have their own regulations for employment records and other legal aspects of company operations.
Training: Having good training programs in place, not only for onboarding new fleet management personnel, but also for continuing education and refresher courses in order to keep skills up to date, helps to ensure better productivity, efficiency, and safety in fleet operations. Further education, such as certificate programs for specific skills needed to stay competitive, is another way for companies to invest in their employees in the short-term in order to benefit over the long run.
Modern IT: An effective fleet management system should include up-to-date software and hardware to support all levels of activity in fleet management, and everything from maintenance records to regulatory documents to human resources files should be accessible to those who need them, yet secure from others. Communication, route-finding, time clocks, anti-theft and security components, and other tech-reliant elements of fleet management should regularly be audited and maintained or replaced as needed.
Planning for the future: Being able to estimate the point at which a vehicle or vehicles will need to be replaced, and planning for both replacement cycles and expansions or contractions in service, is a crucial piece of the fleet management planning process. While it may be virtually impossible to predict the future, it's entirely possible to make informed decisions based on good information about the present, coupled with reliable indicators of trends for the future and a parsing of performance data from the recent past. Strategic planning can help in both the short-term and long-term management of a fleet, and should be used to set the appropriate budgets and goals for the year and beyond.
Every fleet management company will have its own specific set of guidelines and policies, with a lot of potential variance between them, but they will all likely share some of these best practices as well.