In contrast with the antics of the cast of Taxi, fleet management is so much more than simply dispatching vehicles and drivers when needed, and filling them up with gas when empty, and it requires a wide range of skills to keep all of the various facets of a fleet's operation running smoothly.
Managing the records
Managing a fleet requires maintaining and renewing the appropriate legal documents for each vehicle, as well as the vehicle inspection, maintenance, insurance, and repair documents. This 'paper trail' should cover everything throughout the life of the vehicle, up to the retirement or sale of the asset, and include all of the tax and licensing documents. Maintenance documentation is another aspect of fleet management, as knowing the current state of fleet vehicle health is important, as is having access to the vehicle's repair or maintenance history. Employee information is another aspect of fleet management, with the legally-required records kept for everyone in jobs ranging from the reception desk to the driver's seat.
Managing the vehicles
Selecting the right vehicles for the job (and the cost), and then maintaining those vehicles for safety and compliance issues ahead of time with preventative maintenance practices, is a key part of fleet management responsibilities. Determining the best make and model of vehicle, how many of them to procure, and when to do so based on demand and budgets, keeps the fleet supplied with new vehicles as older machines are phased out. Documenting accidents, incidents, or equipment failure, and ensuring repairs are done in a timely and effective manner, is another key aspect of fleet management. A well-defined preventative maintenance schedule should be a core feature of good management practices, and that schedule should cover any and all regular maintenance items over the course of the vehicle's life, whether that work is carried out in-house or is done off-site.
Managing the people
Managing the people of the operations, maintenance, and support staff, including current scheduling needs as well as near future forecasts, is another part of fleet management responsibilities, with driver certification and verification being an important legal aspect for both insurance and liability purposes. Depending on whether maintenance is in-house or outsourced, managing the repair and maintenance facilities to effectively support the fleet's needs can be a significant part of the job.
Managing the data
At a time when technology has enabled the tracking of each fleet asset, whether in real-time or as a data set, tracking of vehicles is fast becoming a key tool for managing the most effective operation of routes and services. Monitoring individual vehicles, as well as tracking the driver's habits, and logging operational data for each vehicle, can inform fleet management about the current state of the operation and help improve it based on real-world data. IT is a crucial element of fleet management, with everything from vehicle tracking and record-keeping to scheduling and maintenance and legal requirements needing to be documented and reported on.
Managing the money
Fleet managers work within their budgets to operate the routes and services as directed, while helping to reduce the ownership costs of fleet vehicles with preventative maintenance, as well as increasing profits through better fuel efficiency, route optimization, and more efficient processes and planning in place. Increased training and employee retention programs may also play a part in reducing costs, as will investing in more cost-effective assets that will pay for themselves fairly quickly.
An efficient fleet management team will have good communication and collaboration skills, as well as strong planning and forecasting processes, which will enable the fleet's operation to run smoothly, on-time, and under budget, for the near future.