The vehicle fleet industry is both one of the most versatile branches of the transportation industry, and one of its most important parts.
Running a fleet of vehicles takes management skills that combine real-time decision-making with proactive planning and data analysis.
If you’re thinking about putting together a fleet of vehicles for your organization, you’re in the right place.
Here’s a summary of everything you need to know about running a fleet.
When Does Owning a Fleet of Vehicles Make Sense?
Securing transportation for your organization requires staying on top of growing demands. In other words, you need to anticipate your needs ahead of time.
This is even more important if your organization is involved in industries where transportation is key. We’re talking about industries such as the delivery industry, industries where you need to send technicians out to various remote locations, and similar.
Knowing when to switch from renting vehicles to owning a fleet of your own can save you a lot of money. Despite the fact that owning vehicles requires an immediate investment that is rarely a small one, running a fleet is often cheaper in the long run.
Managing a Fleet of Vehicles
Purchasing vehicles, or leasing them, is just one part of the equation. The vehicles you acquire need to be managed. There is a lot that goes into fleet management, which is why most organizations have a dedicated fleet manager who does everything. The duties of a fleet manager include, but aren’t limited to the following.
Vehicle maintenance is one of the more complex logistical tasks related to operating a fleet. You need to plan for regular maintenance and stay on top of necessary maintenance cycles. At the same time, you also need to stay on top of any unplanned repairs.
No matter how new your fleet is, vehicles will break down unexpectedly. Accounting for such unplanned repairs is essential if you’re running a business that is dependent on fleet uptime. But wait, there’s more. You also need to account for insurance, permanent fleet registration where possible, and any other expenses related to keeping the vehicles on the road.
Running a fleet of vehicles, especially a larger one, makes it easy to lose track of various important data. One way to stay on top of this is to closely monitor your fleet through tracking and other means. The benefits of vehicle monitoring are numerous:
- Reduces the risk of vehicle theft
- Reduces risk of vehicle misuse
- Offers clear performance data
- Allows for long term maintenance planning
These are just some of the more obvious benefits. There are many more. Monitoring and tracking vehicles can be done using various hardware. Finding the right software/hardware combo can make the entire process much easier.
That being said, outsourcing is also an option. There are many companies out there who specialize in vehicle tracking and monitoring on a larger scale. If your organization runs a sizable fleet of vehicles, outsourcing could be the most cost-effective solution.
Companies that work in industries tied to or adjacent to the delivery of goods also need to think about driver management. Knowing your drivers is a good way to stay ahead of any potential issues down the road.
Driver management includes hiring the right profile of drivers for the job, retaining good drivers through incentives, improving working conditions, and much more. Organizations that don’t invest enough in driver management often end up with a high burnout rate. This in turn increases training costs, while a higher employee turnaround also tends to lower the quality of service and overall performance.
Another important aspect of fleet vehicle management is staying on top of regulations. Fleet managers will need to make sure that both vehicles and drivers are roadworthy and in compliance with state and federal regulations.
One part of a particular job is ensuring that vehicles are fitted with working electronic logging devices (ELD). Furthermore, fleet managers need to ensure that all drivers are logging their hours of service.
Is Owning a Fleet Cost-Effective?
Owning and operating your own fleet of vehicles isn’t easy. However, in most cases running a fleet will bring down your operating costs in the long run. The key is to balance your needs with your abilities.
Hiring a fleet vehicle manager can reduce the operating costs even further, thus allowing you to get a return on your investment even sooner. Lastly, it’s worth keeping in mind that a fleet is an organic entity that will constantly require servicing and upgrades. It is rarely a buy once, cry once investment.