The Comprehensive Guide to Fleet Management
Originally uploaded on April 28, 2020
Effective fleet management is the cornerstone of a successful and efficient fleet, driving motivation and fostering engagement. As a fleet manager, you understand the rewards that come with managing a thriving team. However, you also face inherent challenges that can be overcome through proactive development of management skills. One of the key difficulties lies in effectively managing a widely dispersed group of people with limited contact.
In this fleet management guide from the fuel card experts at Fuelmate, we break down four key areas for development to help you find fleet management solutions. We can help facilitate growth by showing you how to employ excellent fleet management skills for a more efficient, motivated and committed team, ultimately leading to a more successful and profitable business.
Table of Contents
How to Improve Fleet Management
What are the Different Styles of Fleet Management?
Reduce Driver Turnover
Related Fleet Management Articles
How to Improve Fleet Management
By implementing effective strategies, you can streamline operations, reduce costs, and maximise productivity. In this section, we will explore key approaches to improve fleet management, covering aspects such as technology integration, fuel card utilisation, and proactive maintenance.
Research shows that out of the 2.7 billion workers in the world, 80% don’t sit at desks and are harder to engage. Engagement and efficiency come hand in hand, and when working to meet deadlines, either internal or external, efficiency is key both in terms of time and cost.
Fleets can face a number of roadblocks to meeting deadlines, such as traffic or road closures. And, while these factors are outside of the control of drivers, there are many ways fleets can practice diligence when it comes to time management.
Let's dive into these valuable insights and discover how you can take your fleet management to the next level:
Speak to Your Drivers
When managing a dispersed team of drivers in different locations, it's crucial to establish open communication channels. Actively listening to your drivers' experiences not only builds rapport and trust but also empowers them to voice their concerns. By understanding their day-to-day challenges, you can collaborate closely to remove obstacles and enhance efficiency.
Unlike traditional team meetings, dispersed fleets eliminate the need for poorly organised and time-consuming gatherings. In 2019, the UK estimated a staggering cost of £45 billion due to inefficient meetings, resulting in wasted time and confusion. However, the absence of regular meetings can have drawbacks, such as team members feeling disconnected or misinformed. To overcome these challenges, implementing an effective communication strategy becomes essential for maintaining an efficient and successful team.
Utilise Fleet Telematics
Analysing fleet data through a fleet management app is a valuable tool for improving fleet efficiency. Many fuel card providers offer a centralised dashboard in the form of a fleet management app, allowing you to monitor various fleet aspects. These apps generate comprehensive fleet management reports that can be easily exported as spreadsheets, providing factual insights to identify discrepancies and inefficiencies. Some fuel card companies even collaborate with telematics providers, offering access to additional information such as detours and prolonged stops.
By utilising a card activity monitor, fleet management can observe individual drivers' spending behavior and set spending caps on fuel cards. This feature helps pinpoint recurring issues within the fleet, enabling swift and direct resolutions. For more guidance on leveraging fleet data to enhance efficiency, refer to our blog post on utilising and storing fleet information. Once you have a clear understanding of your fleet's operations, driver habits, and time management, you can establish a solid foundation for a more efficient system.
Incorporate a Personal Management Style
A team is only as good as its manager, and nobody wants to be a ‘bad boss’. Becoming a good manager benefits the company as a whole and, as a fleet manager, you'll always be looking for management tips to learn and grow in your management style and technique. Employees who feel well managed are much less likely to leave, improving driver retention. Research from Gallup shows that high performing employees have 10-plus years of service within their company.
Motivate Your Team
A hallmark of being a good leader for your fleet is when your drivers exhibit intrinsic motivation. This can be observed through their increased self-drive, reduced need for supervision, and improved efficiency and attitude while completing their tasks. However, if you find yourself in need of further guidance on motivating your fleet, we recommend referring to our informative blog post on effective ways to inspire your team. It's important to note that while leadership and management require distinct skill sets, strong leadership is an essential component of being a successful fleet manager. By fostering a culture of motivation and engagement, you can effectively steer your fleet towards greater achievements.
As well as initiating good communication practices, presenting yourself as an available and approachable manager lets your drivers feel safe coming to you with any questions, concerns or ideas. By building up your drivers through encouragement and a two-way relationship, you foster trust and an open forum where drivers feel they can come to you. Listen to their ideas and carefully consider what their experiences are. This helps improve their job satisfaction and in turn, improves driver retention, performance, and workflow of a team.
Focus on Continual Improvement
Make sure to improve continuously. Include your team in ways to create and implement solutions to recurring issues in your systems. Every so often, get your whole team together for brainstorms and strategy sessions to develop a culture where everyone feels like an integral part of making the company successful. Another way you can develop personally is by learning more about your management style. To grow as a manager, it’s key to understand your management style so that you’re aware of your starting point. While no two managers are the same, there are general attitudes and approaches different managers adopt over time.
Be Open to Experimenting
When you manage a large team or fleet, the ability to roll with the punches goes a long way. Be open to experimenting with new approaches and challenge yourself to innovate. You could join an industry association where you can learn from other fleet managers, keep updated on industry news and helpful resources, such as blog posts.
What are the Different Styles of Fleet Management?
Let’s take a look at some common management styles to help you identify your modus operandum in the management sphere.
The most widely recognised management styles include:
- Autocratic (Most controlling)
- Laissez-Faire (Least controlling)
You may be an autocratic manager if you’re prone to making decisions for your fleet without welcoming ideas or contributions from your drivers or other subordinates. Autocratic managers also tend to regularly check up on their employees which can foster a low-trust relationship. However, before abandoning this style of management entirely, it’s important to note that there are a variety of benefits to this style of management, depending on the nature of the employees in question and the fleet culture.
Less hands-on than autocratic managers, democratic managers encourage the thoughts and suggestions of their fleet drivers but make the ultimate decision themselves. By gathering as much information as possible to make a decision that benefits the fleet as a whole, democratic managers naturally nurture more trust in their working relationships than autocratic managers.
The most relaxed of all the management styles, you might be described as a laissez-faire fleet manager if you leave all the decisions up to your drivers. While the geographical scattering of drivers requires an element of self-management from your team, this style only works if your fleet are motivated and inspired. This is where good leadership comes in, but this may not be the most effective management style depending on your fleet.
Reduce Driver Turnover
A common question we hear from fleet managers is how they can reduce driver turnover. Every time a driver leaves a fleet, the manager is left to deal with tying up any loose ends, recruiting a new driver and onboarding the new member of the fleet. This can be disjointing and costly and doesn’t increase productivity levels within the fleet. If a fleet is experiencing high levels of driver turnover, this is usually telling of low loyalty to the company and low motivation – factors that can be remedied by the fleet manager.
Developing Leadership Skills
As mentioned in the previous section, management and leadership traits are different but not mutually exclusive. In short, management refers to controlling external factors to ensure their team are working well while leadership involves creating a culture where a team works well because of the values that are nurtured within the team. In a sense, management works from the outside inwards while leadership works from the inside outwards. The perfect blend of both approaches can revolutionise the culture and effectiveness of a team.
Improve Fleet Safety
Ensuring the safety of your fleet is paramount as a responsible manager. Though individual supervision is not possible, establishing guidelines and regular vehicle checks are essential to mitigate risks effectively. According to Fleet News, work-related stress and phone calls during journeys contribute to accidents for 12% of fleet drivers each. It is your responsibility to allow drivers ample time for safe travel and prevent rushing or unsafe practices.
Maintaining awareness of your drivers' on-road presence helps minimise unnecessary communication. If needed, equip drivers with functional hands-free systems or consider satellite navigation provided by some fuel card companies. Notably, implementing fleet tracking software to monitor driver behavior has led to a 42% reduction in safety incidents, as per a study. By embracing these measures and leveraging available technologies, you actively promote the safety and well-being of your fleet on the road.
Set Clear Processes and Policies
Having clear and organised processes and policies ensures there is a workflow for every system of which everyone is aware. This saves confusion between teams and drivers by making sure everyone is on the same page.
These processes include but aren’t limited to:
- Vehicle procurement processes
- Fuel purchasing system
- Vehicle maintenance procedure
- Driver policies
- Cost tracking
- Driver satisfaction and performance
Once you’ve established reliable systems, keep all processes in one accessible cloud-based place alongside user manuals, etc. so everyone can keep up to date with updates and check they are following the correct steps.
Keep on Top of Vehicle Management
Needless to say, fleet safety is of paramount importance when it comes to fleet management best practices. An essential way to ensure your fleet is safe is to stay on top of vehicle maintenance and inspections. This might be a task you delegate to your fleet administrator. Still, regardless of who handles it, a thorough process must be established and implemented to schedule regular vehicle checks and servicing. Keeping a detailed trail of records showing the measures taken to maintain vehicle safety not only prevents vehicle checks from being missed but also keeps you informed of what has and hasn’t been completed.
Comprehensive Fleet Management: Final Thoughts
In conclusion, effective fleet management is a vital component of running a successful and efficient fleet. By proactively developing management skills and addressing challenges head-on, fleet managers can enhance performance, productivity, and overall satisfaction within their teams. We hope that the insights shared in this blog have provided you with valuable guidance and actionable steps to elevate your fleet management approach. By implementing these strategies and adapting them to your specific fleet needs, you can drive your fleet towards greater success, efficiency, and overall excellence.