Best Practices to Make Small Business Fleet Management Easier

Best Practices to Make Small Business Fleet Management Easier

Whether a fleet is made up of a handful of vehicles or hundreds, to ensure efficient operations, fleet managers must tackle a full plate of tasks. This includes budgeting, driver safety and management, vehicle maintenance, asset utilization, and regulatory compliance — all while finding strategies that cut costs and maximize profits.

While complex and time-consuming for fleets large and small, fleet management can be particularly challenging for fleet managers of small business fleets — fleets with fewer than 15 vehicles. The reason is that small business fleets often operate with limited resources, which makes them more susceptible to financial, logistical, communication, and compliance challenges.

But fear not small business fleet managers and owners. You can overcome fleet management challenges by taking a page from the big guys — and it has nothing to do with doubling the size of your fleet. Rather, it means following these best practices large and mid-size fleets use to keep their fleets operating efficiently, productively, and profitably.

Establish Policies and Procedures

For effective fleet management, policies and procedures should be aligned with your vision and mission, defined, and enforced.

Creating guidelines for operational areas such as safety, driver behavior, maintenance, and customer interaction ensures consistency and sets expectations for all employees across your fleet operations. To gain employee support, create a collaborative environment that engages your employees. Share with them why a policy is needed and how it will impact them and your company.

Set Goals and Objectives

Setting goals and objectives for your fleet operations is crucial for measuring your fleet’s performance and setting the stage for success. Set realistic goals compatible with the size of your fleet, operations, and market. Factor in the amount of time expected to achieve your goals — whether it’s over the short-term or long-term.

Embrace Technology

Investing in fleet management technology can significantly streamline your operations. Using GPS tracking, telematics, and fleet management software to monitor vehicle location, improve routing, track fuel consumption, and gather insightful data on driver behavior, empowers you to make more informed, data-driven decisions that enhance efficiency and productivity and cut operational costs.

Prioritize Preventative Maintenance

Regular maintenance is crucial to keeping your fleet in top condition, your drivers productive, your customers happy, and extending the life of your fleet.

Implementing a preventative maintenance schedule that covers inspections of vehicle systems (brake, air, engine and fuel, heating and defrosting, lights and electrical, and exhaust) fluid levels, battery voltage, tires, and windshield wiper/fluid will address issues before they escalate into breakdowns, downtime, and dissatisfied customers.

Provide Driver Training

Investing in driver training programs — including continuous education — ensures your drivers have the skills and knowledge needed to operate their vehicles safely and efficiently. Training reduces the likelihood of accidents, promotes fuel efficiency, reduces vehicle wear and tear, and helps lower insurance premiums. In addition, training provides a career development path for drivers, which is a huge plus for driver retention.

Track Fuel Consumption

With fuel expenses a significant part of your budget, using a fuel tracking solution can help you improve efficiency and reduce maintenance costs. Fuel tracking encompasses fuel prices, fuel consumption, fuel level in vehicles, and analysis of fuel usage data. It provides real-time monitoring so you can access fuel usage whenever and wherever — giving you more control and visibility over fuel management.

To keep fuel costs under control, use route optimization software to improve routing and impress upon drivers the importance of fuel-efficient practices such as reducing idling, hard braking, and speeding.

Implement Inventory Management

Effective inventory management is essential to efficient operations. Keeping track of tools, spare parts, and equipment by using inventory management software will help avoid delays caused by missing items.

Review Insurance

Regularly review your fleet insurance policies to ensure they provide adequate coverage and align with your business and budget requirements. Assess your coverage needs based on the type of vehicles, usage, and potential risks.

Compliance With Regulations

Regulations change constantly, so it’s important to stay informed on local, state, and federal regulations governing commercial fleets. Compliance with vehicle inspection emission standards and driver hour limitations is essential to avoiding penalties and maintaining a positive business reputation.

Monitor Costs and Performance

Regularly track and analyze your fleet’s performance metrics and financial data. With this data, you can identify areas for improvement, pinpoint opportunities, make informed decisions, and adjust strategies so they align with your short-term and long-term goals.