There are more than 276 million vehicles registered across America at the moment. These play a vital role in getting people to school, work, and on their daily errands. However, for some Americans, vehicles are an essential part of their working life as well.
In fact, across the country, there are more than 400,000 fleet-based businesses working across a range of different industries. This includes transportation, deliveries, and private-hire travel.
Whatever industry you are working in, running a fleet of vehicles requires a lot of coordination and organization. Without this, you are unable to deliver services to your clients efficiently. However, running a fleet is a demanding job that can take up a lot of your valuable time.
This is why a large number of fleet-based companies are now choosing to use software to manage their fleets. So what do these types of software do and how can they streamline fleet management? Read on to find out everything you need to know about the benefits of fleet management software and what it can do for your business.
What Are Some of the Challenges Related to Managing a Fleet?
If you run a fleet-based business, then the chances are you handle at least five vehicles. Across the country, there are more than 2.56 million trucks used by fleets.
In order to manage a fleet successfully, there are a number of different areas of administration that you need to keep on top of. These include:
- Keeping up to date with your vehicle maintenance
- Optimizing loads and routes and handling route complications
- Ensuring the safety of your drivers
- Adhering to regulatory compliance requirements
- Communicating with your customers professionally and efficiently
- Keeping in touch with drivers while they are on the road.
On the financial side of things, you also need to work with a budget for fuel, maintenance, and repairs. Reducing fuel usage and idling, for example, ensures that you can maximize profits for your business.
With so much to manage, this requires plenty of organization and a team of expert staff. However, getting support from fleet management software can help. Let’s take a look at exactly what this does.
What Does Fleet Management Software Do?
Fleet management software helps you automate a lot of the manual work involved in managing a fleet. For example, you can use this software to:
- Help streamline your dispatching process
- Automate the load and route planning process
- Facilitate common carrier bidding to secure freight
- Provide customer delivery notifications and ETAs
- Keep records of your fleet’s journey
- Monitor your vehicles while on the road
So no matter what you need it for, there are plenty of fleet management software benefits. With that in mind, here are our top ten benefits of using fleet management software.
1. Fleet Management Software Optimizes Your Routes
When transporting goods across the country, efficiency is essential and a lot of this comes down to route planning. This is all about finding optimized loads and routes that result in the lowest cost for a given day’s worth of shipments. The lowest cost routes will result in the fewest miles driven and the fewest number of hours worked by drivers. They will also be the heaviest load weights (highest asset utilization).
One of the main benefits of fleet management software is that it can process this information far quicker than a person can.
Good load and route optimization tools will take into account traffic patterns, the cost of tolls, and the shipping requirements of various types of products and strategies such as stacking of deliveries to result in the lowest-cost operation.
Using a Load and Route optimization tool can reduce your overall shipping budget by more than 10% and is the foundation of efficient fleet management.
This requires handling a large amount of data to work out the most efficient route for your vehicles. That way, you can use the fewest number of vehicles and follow the quickest available route.
2. Software Will Improve Your Dispatching System
Speaking of efficient route planning, streamlining your dispatching system can also make a big difference.
Up-to-date dispatching consoles are able to automatically map existing routes and use these to dispatch nearby available drivers for pick-ups. This means that you don’t have to send out multiple vehicles to the same area.
A better dispatching system also helps you keep track of who is on the road and when they left. This is particularly important if you are responsible for transporting hazardous materials or time-sensitive deliveries.
Rather than having to sift through piles of dispatch records, your management team will be able to quickly access dispatch records for every delivery in the system.
3. It Can Reduce Idle Time Among Your Drivers
One very handy feature of fleet management software is GPS tracking for your vehicles. This allows you to track your trucks in real-time while they are out of the depot. There are a number of advantages of using this and one of them is to reduce idling among your drivers.
Idling happens when a driver parks their vehicle but leaves the engine running. This might be for a quick stop or to make a speedy delivery.
This might seem like a more efficient way of delivering goods for some drivers, but idling can waste up to $650 per year in fuel costs per vehicle. On top of this, certain neighborhoods around America have regulations against idling to prevent pollution.
It is important to educate your drivers about the importance of not idling while they are out. Efficient monitoring will help prevent unnecessary idling while drivers are on the roads.
4. It Will Reduce Your Overhead Costs
Streamlining your fleet management allows you to run your business more efficiently. This can save you money in a number of different areas.
Improving your route efficiency reduces the number of vehicles that you have you use and their fuel consumption. Reducing idling among your fleet will also significantly reduce this, which will immediately save you money.
Fleet management software also automates a lot of jobs that would take a management team a long time. This means that management teams have more time to focus on other important tasks like customer relations. Or you may be able to use the management software to reduce the number of staff you need in your management team altogether.
This can save you a significant chunk of money over time. So it is important to think of fleet management software as a long-term investment to save the company money that can be utilized for business development.
5. Fleet Management Software Improves Customer Relations
When managing your fleet, it is important to keep your final goal in mind: delivering quality services to your customers. This involves:
- Replying to customer inquiries in a timely manner
- Providing up-to-date information on deliveries and delivery times
- Keeping your customers informed of delays or changes to deliveries
By tracking your vehicles, you will be able to get in touch with customers the minute their goods are dispatched. If anything changes, you can get in touch with them immediately.
This means that customers won’t be waiting around for information or getting in touch to ask questions that your team cannot answer. As a result, your software will have a huge positive impact on your customer relations.
On top of this, your management team will have more time available to handle new order inquiries. So you can continue expanding your business while your software keeps things running smoothly.
6. It Makes Communication With Drivers Easier
Being able to communicate with drivers while on the road is vital.
This means that your management team can quickly tell them about any route updates. Or if they haven’t moved in a while, the management team can check in.
If your drivers run into any issues while out on a route, they can quickly get in touch as well. Improving this communication helps to keep your drivers safe while they work.
It also reduces the margins for error when delivering your services. This means that you will actually improve your customer and driver satisfaction in one go.
7. Your Drivers Will Be Safer While on the Road
As we’ve already mentioned, better communication protects drivers while on the road. Quick and easy communication makes it easy for them to alert your team of any issues. So if they break down, for example, they will be able to send you their exact location for roadside support.
However, even if a driver doesn’t get in touch, GPS tracking will quickly alert you to anything that might indicate trouble. This can send alerts directly to your management team if a driver:
- Doesn’t move for an extended period of time
- Deviates from their planned route
- Is driving too fast or in a way that seems dangerous
- Appears to be idling
- Disappears off the system entirely
Once GPS has picked up on an issue, you can check in with a driver. Even if you don’t hear back from them, you have their location to send help.
This makes it much easier to keep your drivers safe on their routes, especially if they are traveling long distances across the country. This is also a great way of showing potential employees how much you care about the people who work for you. This can go a long way to securing some of the best drivers for your fleet.
8. Your Vehicles Will Have a Longer Lifespan
Looking after your drivers isn’t the only thing you need to think about. The vehicles in your fleet are your greatest asset, so keeping these in good condition is essential. As mentioned earlier, reducing idle time can have a large impact on your company’s bottom line due to fewer expenses attributed to fuel consumption.
However, through the help of fleet management software, reducing idle time also preserves the life of your fleet’s vehicles. The average lifespan of a truck is around 13.9 years. However, this is dependent on you taking proper care of your vehicles. Without paying attention to things like idle time, drive time, and fuel consumption, things can go wrong long before the 13-year mark.
9. You Can Use Fleet Management Software to Innovate Your Team’s Processes
As you have already seen, you can use fleet management software to learn a lot about your fleet and how efficiently it is running. However, on top of all of these practical applications, fleet management software can provide the data needed to generate reports about your overall fleet performance.
Based on those findings, your team can discover new strategies and ways that business processes can be streamlined.
For example, you might want to look at your fleet activity over the course of the year to determine your busiest periods. This will help you plan better for them and decide when to take on more drivers.
You can also use data provided from your software solution to create reports detailing your fleet’s most popular dispatch areas. You could use this information to focus on your route efficiency in this area.
Additionally, you can evaluate your loads and routes to better size your fleet in terms of number and type of trucks to make sure you own the most efficient fleet possible for your unique operation.
Needless to say, fleet management software serves as the platform to help your team make data-driven business decisions instead of ‘educated guesses’ that ultimately impact your company’s overall success.
10. Fleet Management Software Simplifies Freight Bidding
If your team regularly hires out freight to supplement your fleet, then you’re likely used to juggling a plethora of variables – where the load will start from, how much it weighs, where the delivery addresses are located, product types, and much more – and this takes a lot of time to manage.
Because of all of these variables, your team may end up choosing the first available driver to make the delivery. More times than not, this isn’t cost-efficient because you’re limiting yourself to only one price and there is no competition for your loads.
There are fleet management software options that provide ‘reverse auctions’, where your team can quickly summarize a particular job or load that needs to be delivered, push that job out to an endless amount of shipping providers, and allow for drivers to bid lower and lower amounts to make the delivery for you.
Given the current trend toward driver shortages, competitive bidding in this form prevents any shady business and allows your dispatcher to automatically communicate with an unlimited number of providers, making it more likely they will be able to quickly secure the freight needed to keep your operations running smoothly.
This functionality not only helps speed up the booking process for your team and the delivery process for drivers, but it also results in cost savings that ultimately add up to benefit your company in the long run.
The Importance of Choosing the Best Fleet Management Software
As you can see, there are a lot of ways that your fleet, management team, and drivers can benefit from fleet management software. However, to make the most of this software, you need to find the best possible software for your business.
The last thing you want to do is invest in software that doesn’t deliver quality or can’t provide the services you need. With that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the things you should look for when choosing fleet management software.
Find Features That Suit Your Company’s Needs
First things first, you need software that offers the features that you are interested in. A lot of fleet management software will offer products like route planning and GPS tracking.
However, if you want software that goes above and beyond you need to look into the other features on offer. For example, if you are planning to try reverse freight bidding, then you need software that can manage this for you. So make sure that you ask about all of the products available before settling on a software solution.
Identify Pricing That Matches Your Budget
It is worth keeping your budget in mind when shopping around. As we’ve said, fleet management software can save you a lot of money in the long run, so it’s important to remember that this is an investment.
If you are working with a tighter budget, look at features that are absolute must-haves and plan accordingly. Then, as you start to make savings elsewhere, you can upgrade to
a more comprehensive package. If you have a larger budget, ensure that you are looking at all options available to you.
Pay Attention to Ease of Use
Your management team will need to feel comfortable using your fleet management software, and any new staff will need software training. Your drivers may also have to get familiar, so pinpoint software that is user-friendly for everyone.
The fleet management software should have an interface that is easy to navigate and keeps all of its data well-organized. That way anyone who needs to use it will feel confident doing so.
You may have some staff members that use English as their second language. In this case, it is a good idea to look for software that offers multiple linguistic options, so that it is accessible for all of your staff.
Is Customer Service and Customer Support Provided?
Once your fleet management software is up and running, it will quickly revolutionize the day-to-day running of your business. Unfortunately, this means that if something does go wrong with your system, it can have a big impact on your fleet.
This is why it is important to look for a software solution that provides excellent customer service and support. If your team experiences any major issues, having efficient software support can help resolve those issues quickly.
It is also great if an online chatbot or troubleshooting service is available for quick help queries. By having helpful resources readily available, it’s more likely that your software service provider is committed to resolving issues or questions quickly.
Read Reviews from Real Clients
When trying to decide which software is the best for your company that operates fleets, one of the best things to do is to look for reviews of it from previous customers. This will tell you a lot about the quality of the services certain software provides and how easy it is to use.
When looking up reviews, make sure that you use independent websites; these will feature both good and bad (if there are any) testimonials. Try to look for recent reviews, as software companies are always updating their products to iron out any issues. This means that reviews that are more than a few years old will probably be out of date.
Reviews can help you get a feel for a software solution and whether or not it will work for managing your fleet. This is a great way to spot red flags and even ask people questions about their experiences.
Start Enjoying the Benefits of Fleet Management Software Today
As you can see, when it comes to managing a fleet of vehicles, there are plenty of benefits of fleet management software. This software will save you time and money and will help you run your business more efficiently. It will also benefit all of the drivers working for you, so everyone’s a winner!
So what are you waiting for? Get in touch today to learn more about resources available to help your team do better business and ultimately lead your fleet to the front of the pack. At Headlight Solutions, we’re happy to help you develop a winning strategy, cut unnecessary expenses, and become an industry leader.