Commercial Fleet Management: 6 Tips for Success

Let’s face it – commercial fleet management is not an easy task even on the best of days. That’s because there are, quite literally, hundreds of moving parts involved in keeping trucks operating safely and efficiently. If just one thing goes wrong, it can create a series of ripple effects that could end up affecting productivity and negatively impacting your bottom line, not to mention your reputation. No one needs that! 

While some issues are always bound to crop up here and there, with a little bit of careful planning on the front end, you can protect yourself and ensure your commercial fleet remains on the road where it belongs. 

So what exactly is fleet management anyway? In its simplest terms, fleet management is a function that allows companies in transportation-related industries to minimize costs, improve productivity, efficiency, and safety, and lower investment risks under the guidance of a fleet manager or fleet management company.

 

6 Tips for Commercial Fleet Management Success

Now that we’ve defined what it is, here are six tips for commercial fleet management success:

Tip 1: Hire a commercial fleet management expert 

truck maintenance services

Fleet managers are somewhat like the air traffic controllers of the trucking world and they always have a ton of work on their plates. 

Not only do they have to make sure their vehicles are well maintained and ready to roll at a moment’s notice, but they’re also responsible for training the drivers who will be operating those vehicles and monitoring their behavior behind the wheel. But wait – there’s more! They’re also in charge of handling data analysis so they can improve efficiencies, scheduling deliveries to customers, and acquiring new vehicles to keep up with demand. 

When you’re looking to hire a fleet manager, you’ll want to find someone who loves finding solutions to logistical challenges, is detail-oriented, and ideally has a background in the transportation industry. Getting the right person on board can take time, but it’s well worth the effort in the end to have someone you can trust with such valuable assets.

Tip 2: Purchase fleet management software 

With the advent of fleet management software, the days of keeping track of fleet information in a notebook or on post-it notes are long gone. Now, fleet managers can use this ever-advancing technology tool to handle a multitude of tasks in minutes. 

With the click of a button, they can run reports, schedule deliveries, and send invoices to customers. And thanks to GPS functionality, sensors, and diagnostic systems, fleet managers can easily track the location of their vehicles at all times. This can also help them monitor driver performance and behavior. Say, for example, the fleet manager looks at his software and sees that a driver is making an excessive number of stops that end up delaying a delivery. 

Conversely, he could review his software and discover an operator who is consistently driving too fast for conditions. He can then use that information to have conversations with his drivers about the importance of efficiency and safe driving and even create training programs geared at improving driver performance. For all these reasons – and many more – we highly recommend investing in fleet maintenance software. It’s one of the best purchases you’ll ever make!

Tip 3: Stay on top of fleet maintenance 

Unfortunately, there’s no way to prevent every problem from happening and when you consider how much work commercial vehicles do every year, it’s understandable that things will sometimes go awry. 

That said, having a solid fleet maintenance plan in place is your best protection against mechanical issues. To get started, you’ll want to create a detailed inventory of your entire fleet along with the service and repair history for each vehicle so you’ll know exactly what you’re dealing with. Then, use your fleet maintenance software to create a maintenance schedule and checklist so you can be sure that tires, filters, pumps, hoses, and heating and air conditioning systems are being serviced on a regular basis. 

You can even set up your software so you’ll get alerted in real-time if something goes wrong. By taking good and consistent care of your vehicles, they’ll be able to go the distance for both your company and your customers.

Tip 4: Make safety a priority

No matter how many precautions we put into place, accidents can and will sometimes happen. Though fleet managers generally don’t have crystal balls to help them predict the future, they can use their fleet management software to analyze previous accident data. Is there a correlation between accidents and bad weather? Are drivers tailgating or driving aggressively? Do certain vehicle parts keep wearing out sooner than expected? Your software can provide you with important clues that can help you develop new policies and procedures that emphasize safety. 

On a related note, your fleet management software can be a huge help when it comes to compliance during state and federal inspections, potentially saving you thousands of dollars in fines and preventing frustrating service disruptions. 

Tip 5: Develop a lifecycle plan for your fleet

Your vehicles are the bread and butter of your entire operation and one of your top goals should be getting the most bang for your buck out of each one of them. In order to create a well-rounded lifecycle plan, it’s important to start at the very beginning. 

How do you intend to acquire your vehicles? Does it make more sense to buy new or used? To lease or purchase outright? Once you’ve got that part ironed out, you’ll want to continue your careful planning throughout the life of your vehicle by closely monitoring its metrics – we’re talking mileage, service and maintenance history, and anything related to cost of ownership. 

When you put these pieces of data together, you’ll be able to get a clear picture of the status of your vehicles so you can be strategic in determining the best time to sell.

Tip 6: Find a seat for everyone at the table

Once you have all the pieces of the puzzle in place with maintenance and safety programs and vehicle acquisition plans, you might feel like you’ve got a good handle on everything going on within your fleet and your company. 

However, that’s not always the case and it’s why you should encourage the people on your team to share their feedback on their day-to-day experiences. Are there common issues that customers are frequently calling in about? Do drivers feel unclear about what’s expected of them in certain situations? 

By keeping the lines of communication open and welcoming everyone’s input, not only will you improve morale with your team but you might also find new and better ways of doing things. That’s always a great feeling.

 

Get help from fleet management pros

If you’re looking to develop or enhance your fleet management system, you don’t have to go it alone – let the team at Blaine Brothers help! Our dedicated and experienced fleet management professionals can assist you with all your fleet management needs and provide you with the highest level of service in the industry without breaking your budget. 

After more than 40 years in the business, we’re proud of the reputation we’ve built among the trucking and transportation community in the upper midwest and we’re pleased to provide service to companies of all sizes. Why have we been able to survive and thrive for so long? Well, it’s pretty simple. We believe in treating our customers like family and helping them succeed is what keeps us motivated every day. 

When you’re ready to get started, turn to Blaine Brothers. We’ll get you on the road safely and efficiently and we’ll be there to support you at every stop on your journey. Contact us today – we’re looking forward to handling all your fleet management needs.

Blaine, MN

763.780.5130

10011 Xylite Street NE
Minneapolis, MN 55449

Cloquet, MN

218.879.6681

1325 Hwy 45
Cloquet, MN 55720

Clearwater, MN

320.558.9966

750 Heaton BLVD
Clearwater, MN 55320

Baldwin, WI

715.688.2404

2500 Alreich Ave
Baldwin, WI 54002

Truckaline

763.786.8863

9515 150th Avenue NE
Columbus, MN 55025