The day-to-day expenses of running a fleet can add up quickly, and fleet-related costs can go unnoticed because you can’t monitor what you can’t see. Put simply, fleet managers simply may not have the level of visibility they need to properly track costs and ensure the bottom line does not suffer as a result.
Here’s the problem. A lack of visibility can really put a dent in your bottom line, which creates major problems for fleet managers and the executives they report to. After all, good fleet managers should consider it their job to maintain full visibility over fleet costs. The question is, where are fleet costs the worst? Whether it be payroll, overtime, vehicle usage, fuel use, or maintenance, these all represent unnecessary fleet costs. The question is – as a conscientious fleet manager, are you paying close attention to fleet costs? Let’s start with payroll.
Trucking Companies Must Precisely Manage Payroll and Billing
Trucking companies and fleet managers need to pay close attention to the accuracy of timesheets. Timesheets that are incorrect even by small increments results in your organization giving away money that could be invested back into the operation. Truck drivers who round up their hours on a regular basis can be an extra cost for you. Is this something you are paying attention to on a regular basis?
You don’t want your company’s revenue stream to be tied to an honor system with your truck drivers. Without utilizing technology or reliable methods to correlate hours, any slight deviation can mean increased costs and lost revenue. If you use manual time sheets to record your drivers’ hours, how do you know that the hours they are submitting are accurate? It’s time to move on from these legacy methods of tracking hours and vehicle usage.
Fortunately, ELD and GPS solutions help fleets keep better rack of hours and vehicle usage without relying on unreliable pen and paper. Modern ELDs and GPS fleet management solutions monitor and report all working hours, eliminate manual time sheets, and capture key metrics. All this is designed to boost the daily productivity of your truck drivers.
Are you verifying start and end times for each job your technicians complete? Doing so will also help you properly invoice customers. GPS location data can also be useful if a customer disagrees with the hours billed. It is critical that fleet managers use ELDs and advanced technologies to decrease costs at all levels.
How Vehicle Usage and Theft is Mitigated Through Technology
Are you aware of when your drivers use company vehicles — and fuel — to run personal errands after hours? While many fleet managers assume their trusted truck drivers could never do this, they may be surprised at how often it actually happens. And not only does this add wear and tear to your vehicles but it also adds to your fuel bill.
Fleet managers understand that fuel usage is an enormous cost that is difficult to control and even harder to predict. And yet tools exist that allow trucking companies to do just that. Fleet managers use these technologies to track lost or stolen assets.
Obviously, losing even one truck or trailer (especially if it is full of cargo) can have horrible financial consequences. Fleet tracking solutions can help monitor unauthorized usage, and in the event of theft, increase the trucking company’s chances of locating and recovering the lost or stolen property. It is simply unacceptable for fleet managers to say they could have used technology to prevent loss or theft but did not do so.
Fuel Consumption Monitoring and Truck Driver Habits
Fleet managers may have a knee-jerk reaction to trust their truck drivers, but in reality, they may have very little knowledge about their fuel-purchase habits, especially if they have free rein using a fleet fuel card. Fleet management systems ensure fleet managers can track fuel usage and coach their truck drivers on inefficient behaviors.
For example, maintaining proper speeds is critical to ensure reduced fuel usage. Managers view speed events by truck drivers and set up alerts when excessive speeding occurs. Unnecessary idling is also wasteful. Fleet managers should be utilizing ELD, GPS, and telematics technologies to monitor unnecessary and wasteful idling. Dispatchers and managers can set it up to monitor unnecessary, wasteful idling and receive alerts when a truck is idling too long.
There are also fuel cards to consider. Fleet managers must consider integrating fuel cards with reports that show total fuel spend per vehicle and the location of each fill-up. They should also be able to track miles per gallon, pinpoint causes of high fuel consumption, reduce fuel slippage and enforce fuel-saving habits.
Utilize Effective Coaching Methods to Control Costs and Stop Bad Driving Habits
Keeping tabs on how every truck driver operates their commercial motor vehicles (regardless of type) can seem like an overwhelming task. GPS fleet tracking, advanced ELDs, and fleet management software is critical. It helps fleet managers effectively monitor truck driver behavior. They can also recognize patterns of bad driving that could lead to safety concerns.
Fleet managers can monitor vehicle speed and location to help promote safety by utilizing telematics and advanced ELD an GPS technology. They can also set themselves up to receive automatic speeding alerts when truck drivers exceed preset thresholds and view a historical record of speeding incidents by truck driver and vehicle. These insights can be critical to controlling costs.
Hard braking, cornering, and fast acceleration are also supremely negative truck driver behaviors. Truck drivers who exhibit these behaviors put truck drivers and the public at risk and increase wear and tear on your vehicle. Fleet managers should utilize advanced technology offered by numerous vendors to paint a clear picture using customizable truck driver behavior reports, including engine diagnostics and the location of unwanted behavior.
Finally, fleet managers must use these same technologies to address distracted driving. They can leverage in-cab video footage to monitor and coach truck drivers who use their cell phones, eat, or exhibit other behaviors while driving that put them and others on the road at risk. In-cab cameras and other technologies can mitigate these risks.
Consider Vehicle Maintenance to Ensure Costs Remain Low
If you’re in the dark about when vehicles are due for service, critical maintenance can easily be overlooked. This might result in a costly breakdown that could have been prevented. Shop technicians should be well aware of the importance of preventative maintenance (PM). PM is one of the best ways to ensure maintenance problems don’t represent a major cost for trucking companies.
Still, staying up to date with your fleet’s maintenance schedule and service requirements can be time consuming. It can also be potentially costly if you don’t have a robust telematics solution in place. Telematics solutions help trucking companies keep track of PM. They can see what is wrong with particular vehicles, and which vehicles experience excessive downtime.
The right solution lets you closely track both preventative and unscheduled maintenance to help increase uptime. First, consider engine diagnostics. Fleet managers can track diagnostic data, including fuel, mileage, ignition and idling events, diagnostic trouble codes (DTCs), speed, and engine hours. All this is to help extend the life of vehicles by keeping them serviced before major repairs are needed or a breakdown occurs.
Fleet managers should also be able to automatically track vehicle maintenance and date of completion. Set proactive reminders for oil changes, tune-ups, and other routine upkeep. Without using technology to keep track of service records and maintenance needs, fleet managers remain in the dark. Especially regarding how much maintenance issues impact overall cost.
Consider Route Optimization and Effective Time Management
When it comes to getting your freight where they need to be, truck drivers must take the most efficient route possible. This saves trucking companies time and money and can lead to better response times. With GPS fleet tracking, telematics, and advanced ELDs, fleets identify routes that require less fuel. And then they can coach truck drivers on how to use those routes. They can also provide their customers with more accurate arrival or delivery times for specific jobs.
In addition, telematics technology can show you unexpected traffic, construction, or weather. And it can help you locate truck drivers in case of an emergency. It’s important to look for ways to streamline and simplify everyday activities. Otherwise the may cost more time than they’re worth. Advanced technologies available on the market today can provide greater levels of insight into your fleet. And they help you get through administrative tasks quickly with less hassle.
You gain access to scheduled reports and fleet-related dashboards. These dashboards offer a full picture of all your fleet’s metrics delivered right to your inbox. This is the new world trucking companies should be taking advantage of. Is yours?