1. Vehicle Acquisition
The first thing your fleet manager should tackle is evaluating changes to vehicle legislation such as the WLTP and RDE2 fuel economy test cycles. Determining purpose and suitability of vehicles and negotiating deals with vehicle manufacturers all sit with the fleet manager. Fuel consumption, tax and insurance costs in addition to employee expectations need to be considered too when selecting the right fleet vehicles.
Add to this a consideration towards end of life and vehicle re-sell value and it soon becomes clear why the role of a fleet manager can be such a challenge. They will also need to ensure budget allocations are met and savings are always there to be made.
2. Fuel Management
In our opinion, probably one of the biggest cost-saving challenges for a fleet manager is ever increasing fuel costs. Fluctuations in market price and the external factors that influence prices are beyond the control of a fleet manager, but there are options to help reduce fuel consumption and costs.
We all know that the popularity of diesel vehicles is in decline following the Volkswagen emissions scandal and well publicised negativity on harmful NOx emissions. The government response of adding a surcharge to tax has understandably had an impact on sales.
Despite this, an effective fleet manager needs to evaluate the options to see if they still deliver the greatest cost savings. Petrol remains the market leader but the margin is decreasing due to the growing popularity of electric and hybrid vehicles.
Fleet managers can carry out a cost benefit analysis on fuel options as a way of determining the most suitable for the vehicles in their charge. We recommend giving consideration to all of the data available though – for instance, is the higher purchase price of electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles off-set against their lower running costs and performance?
Another area you must consider is fuel card choice – this is paramount to any fleet by selecting the best value deal to meet needs. We would use telematics alongside this to remotely observe driver behaviour and the effect on fuel management in addition to an ability to track vehicles and determine the most cost-effective routes.
3. Vehicle Maintenance
You have two choices here, depending on the size of your business. Larger firms may decide to carry out servicing and repair work at an in-house workshop, while smaller businesses may choose to out-source to specialists.
Regardless of which route your business takes, it will be the responsibility of your fleet manager to ensure that vehicle checks are carried out to comply with legislation. This includes driver daily walk round checks, pre-purchase vehicle inspections, regular maintenance checks and to ensure that reported defects have been rectified.
4. Health and Safety
If the worst happens and one of your employees is involved in a road accident, your company needs to make sure it has complied with health and safety guidance. You need to ensure robust reporting procedures are in place to enable drivers to deal with an accident by following insurance reporting procedures correctly so that claims can be handled quickly and efficiently.
Needless to say, your fleet manager will be responsible for both the development and implementation of the health and safety policy in addition to making sure that driver training records are up to date to minimise the risk of accidents occurring within the fleet in the first place.
5. Meeting Compliance Requirements
Daily checks, inspection sheets, driver checks, defect reporting, road worthiness tests, insurance… the list goes on. Compliance and fleet risk management is an essential part of the role and all aspects need to not only be carried out but also documented. This ensures that a full trail of information is available for each vehicle for both auditing purposes and in the event of an accident should a claim or investigation need to be made.
Vehicle legislation is changing apace, particularly with the move to the WLTP vehicle testing structure. In our opinion, it is imperative that your fleet manager is aware of changes to legislation that could have a direct impact on your business.
6. Controlling Costs
We might be stating the obvious here, but controlling and reducing costs is always a priority for any business and fleet management is no exception. Fleet Managers are required to analyse the relevant information about their fleet and realise the areas that can be improved. This can include reducing vehicle purchase costs, reviewing fuel consumption and analysing the behaviour of your drivers – achieving more for less.
7. Avoiding Information Overload
Your fleet operation will generate a lot of data, but we know from experience that not all of it will be useful. Trawling through such vast amounts of information is time consuming and runs the risk of missing important, relevant information. Updating such information has administrative time and money implications too.
This is why fleet management software is so important – it can help sort through the unnecessary information and generate reports on only the areas that you need.
8. Expanding Role of the Fleet Manager
We believe this role will increase over time… technology and its integration within your fleet operation will expand your fleet manager’s job to cover mobility management, asset management and input into measuring and controlling the environmental impact of your business. We recommend incorporating fleet management software sooner rather than later as it will be vital in helping to deliver this expanded role.