Managing vehicle fleets effectively for small business

For businesses running vehicle fleets to perform their core, everyday functions, management is a critical task. Failure to manage the fleet properly can lead to a number of problems that subsequently eat into efficiency, sales and growth.

Gladly, smart fleet management is not overly complicated. By ensuring that sound procurement, smooth operation and well-planned maintenance of vehicles becomes second nature, companies drive greater value from their assets on the road.

The Key Elements of Effective Fleet Management

The most important element to start with is procurement. Getting value for money, whilst at the same time landing a vehicle that’s of good quality, is the aim of the game.

The second-hand market online provides ample choice for businesses when acquiring motorbikes, cars, vans or trucks. Resale sites have opened up opportunities for fleet managers that were previously blocked off. Reliable second-hand vehicles can be found at much cheaper prices than new vehicles – without any compromise on quality.

A quick online search for a well-regarded vehicle such as a Volkswagen Transporter, on a site such as Gumtree, offers a compelling example of how powerful this avenue can be.

Savvy vehicle owners now take extra care of their purchases, ensuring that they are better maintained than ever. Vehicles from the top manufacturers hold significant resale value, so smart fleet managers often buy premium and then carry out regular services.

Proper maintenance of a fleet means vehicles are taken out of action temporarily, and that raises certain challenges, especially for smaller business with smaller fleets. How long will the vehicle be off the road for a service and how will that downtime affect the bottom line?

How to Manage your Fleet as Effectively as Possible

To lessen this anxiety, businesses should clearly map out maintenance plans so that they can take care of the vehicles in a regular manner, ensuring downtime does not affect profitability.

Specific software has been developed to help businesses plan for vehicle servicing. Online fleet management tools allow managers to centralise and automate all the key information relating to their vehicles. This can include MOTs, tax, insurance, licensing and registration. Vehicle maintenance can also be tracked, as well as cost analysis.

Even key information about drivers can be added to this software. License data, infringements and penalty points can be logged and tracked, so that managers get a global view of their entire fleet – and the people behind the wheel.

This kind of monitoring is also known as telematics and has been a key part of fleet management since the early 2000s.

The insight this data can give to businesses is critical for efficiency and productivity, as Ralph Morton, editorial director of Business Car Manager, told the Financial Times, “Vehicles generate data on how they are being driven — perhaps too much acceleration or speeding, for example — allowing companies to take intelligent decisions about driver training and to the benefit of fuel consumption and accident reduction.”

The Last Word

Ultimately, fleet management is more important than ever, especially for small businesses looking to avoid any unnecessary cost.

By using telematics, monitoring software, and getting smarter with second-hand procurement, businesses can drive greater efficiencies in the way they manage their vehicle fleets.

Adam Hansen

Adam is a part time journalist, entrepreneur, investor and father.