As a fleet manager, you split your workday across a lot of time sensitive and operationally critical responsibilities to maintain fleet productivity. You’re tasked with managing large numbers of assets and a mobile workforce, staying on the right side of regulatory compliance and safety metrics and delivering a top-notch customer experience – all while growing profitability.
It’s a tall order, and efficiently orchestrating the myriad of moving parts requires a level of efficiency that can only come from streamlined business processes and proactive insight.
The good news is, there are clear and actionable steps you can take today to gain a productivity boost – enabling you to do more in less time.
Top Productivity Tips From Thousands of Fleet Operations Managers
We’ve talked to thousands of fleet operations managers and recently surveyed 227 customers in our 2021 State of Connected Operations Report: Customer Insights and Trends. Through these discussions we identified 5 best practices that highly productive fleet managers have in common. These managers are cutting costs, reducing downtime and improving safety – running a streamlined and profitable operation.
Take action on implementing these best practices, and you’ll gain back valuable time that you can invest in the activities that move the needle on your bottom line.
1. Establish a Consistent Morning Routine
While some fleet managers dive straight into tackling the first tasks and issues that hit their inbox, highly productive fleet managers set aside uninterrupted time each morning to identify priorities and establish a plan for the day.
Regardless of how busy an operation they run, they follow this process as consistently as a pilot going through a pre-flight checklist because it’s that critical to their success – keeping them on task and, ultimately, saving time.
Take action: Schedule 30 minutes each morning to separate issues into categories you can address:
- Scan assets assigned to specific routes or projects. Have any failed inspections or incurred unplanned downtime that puts your schedule in jeopardy? Are there any red flags about your drivers, operators or other resources?
- Are the correct assets where they’re needed? Leverage your telematics and asset tracking tools to verify that when your teams arrive – everything they need will be in place and ready to go. You don’t want any surprises, like a vehicle or equipment left 15 miles away from where it’s needed and your crew is sitting idle.
- Review upcoming projects – has anything changed about the scope, schedule or resources needed that you can proactively address?
This process provides the opportunity to identify and prioritize the issues that will contribute most to the bottom line – and that bottom line includes profit, safety and customer experience. It also gives you a consistent way to proactively uncover items you need to keep on a “watch list” – ready to make a proactive intervention, if needed, without getting unnecessarily distracted unless/until it’s required.
71% of IntelliShift survey respondents say they’ve increased their use of operational data in the past 6-12 months. They’re turning data into actionable insight.
2. Configure Critical Alerts & Notifications
While some fleet managers put off configuring alerts and setting critical event thresholds until they feel they have time, the most productive fleet managers know that the time they invest in setting up the alerts generates huge time savings.
With proactive alerts working hard on their behalf, these managers no longer need to manually check and recheck the status of their assets, operators and projects. And when an incident does occur, the alerts ensure they’re immediately notified and can take rapid action.
Take Action: When configuring alerts, first tackle the areas that deliver the greatest impact:
- Ensure you’re notified when driver behavior is compromising your safety goals or eating into your bottom line – whether it’s distracted driving, harsh braking, excessive idling, or another risky behavior.
- Identify and act on fuel spikes that signal vehicles in need of service, drivers that need coaching or routing that should be examined.
- Ensure you receive alerts about vehicle service – completed and outstanding requests, as well as any failed inspections.
70% of IntelliShift’s survey respondents say that having access to more real-time data led to process optimization as a top improvement.
3. Automate Time Consuming Daily Processes
While setting up proactive alerts is a great start, the most productive fleet managers know it’s just a first step.
Highly productive fleet managers automate the processes that require daily attention. They spend less time sifting through paper reports – or manually tracking them down – and have more time to analyze operations and act on insight that will drive improvement and efficiency.
Take Action: Effectively making the shift from reactive to proactive means eliminating outdated paper processes by digitizing forms and reports and automating the transfer of reported information. That includes:
- Compliance reporting for inspections, safety incidents and hours of service
- Real-time feedback on driver scorecard events and rankings
- Diagnostic trouble codes to detect issues before they lead to downtime
- Alerts about vehicle service status
The true value of automation is in the business intelligence it enables – giving you tools to harness the volumes of data that are flowing through your organization, and the ability to view and analyze cross-departmental data in a unified way. With the hours you free up by automating processes and driving the information to you versus manually seeking it out – you can make a big impact on the bottom line.
For example, when you can correlate driver behavior to fuel spend, you can identify the specific leverage points that will allow you to take measurable action to reduce excessive fuel costs. Driver behavior and maintenance information also allow you to pinpoint sources of excessive wear and tear on your assets. Being able to detect, correct and track distracted behaviors that happen behind the wheel gives you insight into how to reduce accident rates as well as insurance and legal costs.
90% of respondents in our recent survey say they have more time for tasks that help the company’s bottom line.
4. Initiate Cross-Departmental Process Reviews
Building on the previous best practice, highly productive fleet managers know that to achieve – and maintain – their productive state, they can’t go it alone. They break down cross-departmental barriers and initiate process reviews.
These effective fleet managers actively work to build open and ongoing communication channels and eliminate the data silos that appear when technology solutions are selected and deployed on an individual departmental basis rather than being based on broader operational needs and goals.
Silos caused by teams using different technology solutions – often with overlapping functionality – is frequently the root cause that blocks effective cross-department reporting. To reach peak productivity, you’ve got to break down silos across procurement, maintenance, safety, and compliance – and share the information and insight to streamline the entire organization.
Take Action: Conduct monthly or quarterly meetings with your cross-departmental counterparts:
- Read out performance against operation-wide KPIs
- Showcase joint wins
- Identify and procure future technology solutions that serve the needs of the entire team
- Agree to standardize on a single platform to increase adoption, improve the ability to share data and reduce costs.
- Keep the meetings rigorous and results-driven, ensuring a clear agenda, assigning owners to action items and developing success metrics, project timelines and tracking progress.
The value of a unified solution can’t be understated. 86% of IntelliShift’s survey respondents say that access to real-time, non-siloed data has delivered deep insights that drastically improve operations.
5. Set a Safety Performance Bar and Reward System for Operator Scorecards
Safety is at the heart of every fleet manager’s responsibilities. Keeping drivers and operators safe, and achieving company-wide safety goals, also protects your business from expensive – and sometimes crippling – insurance claim and legal payouts. Improving safety also the cuts the time-consuming processes and reports you have to deal with when a safety incident occurs – giving you more time to focus on operational improvements.
So set a safety performance bar and reward system for operator scorecards.
Because let’s face it, when you run a fleet-driven organization, your drivers and operators are your most important asset. Their success is your success. And they’re more likely to perform at high levels – and achieve the safety targets you set – when they know the exact goals they’re working toward, and how their performance is measured.
Highly productive fleet managers are committed to full transparency on expectations, event thresholds and metrics. They know a “no surprises” policy improves driver satisfaction and results.
Build out your scorecards to match the unique requirements and thresholds that will move you toward your goals.
- Ensure you’ve got a KPI for every data point on your scorecard so you can see exactly how you’re doing at all times.
- Gamify operator performance with an award program, top-performer incentives and a leaderboard of rankings to inspire a friendly competition.
- And finally, use your metrics and KPIs to develop training and coaching programs to help your operators be safe and successful.
78% of IntelliShift’s survey respondents say they’ve gained better visibility into their fleet operations – scorecards are key to getting critical on-the-road visibility to improve individual and fleet-wide safety scores.
How To Build the Best Solution for Effective Fleet Operations and Safety Management
So, what’s the best way to put these tips and best practices into action? Start by ensuring you’ve got the right tools to accomplish the job.
These best practices cover many of the reasons why an effective solution – one that gives you the biggest boost in productivity and moves you toward your goal of cutting unnecessary costs, reducing unplanned downtime and improving your safety metrics – needs to be integrated and holistic.
When your tech stack is comprised of an eclectic mix of point solutions from multiple vendors you give up the simplicity and ease-of-use that delivers a high adoption and consistent use by your team and across the organization. Also:
- You incur higher costs due to multiple subscriptions – and these subscriptions often come with overlapping functionality so you’re not getting full utilization.
- Your operators are forced to log in and out of multiple systems as they complete their daily workflow.
- Training costs increase as you try to ensure everyone knows how and when to use each of the solutions correctly.
- Gaining the data-driven insights you need to hit your metrics and goals takes time-consuming effort. You’ve got to manually bring together and unify those separate data sets before you can run any kind of analysis.
A single integrated platform that enables you to customize the exact capabilities you need for your operation will deliver the fastest time to value – and the biggest returns over time as you scale the solution to meet the needs of your business as it grows and evolves.
Ready to take action? Speak to an expert and find out how to get the solution that’s right for you.