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telematics

How Digitising Your Fleet Management Can Save Your Business Both Time and Money

Digitisation and automation play a pivotal role in running an efficient fleet. Both strategies can alleviate the challenges often encountered in fleet management. Here's how you can boost business profitability and efficiencies using telematics.
How Digitising Your Fleet Management Can Save Your Business Both Time and Money
Image credit: Bigstock
Entrepreneur Staff
8 min read

You're reading Entrepreneur South Africa, an international franchise of Entrepreneur Media.

Cost saving is a topical issue in vehicle fleet management. “The cost of operating in business today is getting more and more costly and currently companies are sweating assets,” says Justin Manson,
Sales Director, Africa, TomTom Telematics South Africa.

The increased expenses in small business fleet management result in less investment towards new technologies or systems – unless it’s deemed crucial for business survival.

How can your business achieve an increase in productivity, while saving money without being frugal with resources?

“Fleet management solutions are not always thought of as business critical,” says Manson. “However, businesses are still under immense pressure to achieve more with less resources, which is where a proper fleet management solution and digitalisation can help achieve objectives.”

Key areas where businesses can improve profitability and efficiency

Every fleet manager wants to achieve large returns without wasteful expenditure, but with the various issues that exist within operating a general business, these are four of the major challenges hindering proper fleet management:

  • Time
  • Cost
  • Communication
  • Customer service. 

Traffic taking up time

Traffic congestion impacts largely on fleet management businesses, not only in terms of fuel spend, but how many trips a vehicle can make a day. “This has a direct impact on cash flow,” says Manson.

“Navigating around traffic congestion means that a vehicle will use less fuel and would also be able to fit in more jobs per day, or increase the number of billable hours per day.” 

Cost saving concerns

While 59% of respondents in TomTom’s recent survey of fleet managers said they agree that they spend too much time reporting work times, the most frustrating aspect of fleet management is the high cost and usage of fuel.

“In general, fleet managers also feel their vehicles are draining more money from the business than they should,” highlights the report.

Communicating with drivers

It’s important to stay connected to your team, thus boosting productivity collectively. This way, you’re able to relay messages to drivers, ensure road safety, and have assurance that delivery is made by the correct ETA.

According to TomTom’s report, more than 60% said the inability of field teams to follow assigned schedules has a negative impact on the business.

Giving customers the best service

Consistent and quality customer service plays a vital role in your business’s success. Meanwhile, not meeting their expectations could have customers choosing to do business with your competitors.

58% of fleet managers surveyed estimate that around 33% of the time their drivers fail to reach their destination within the first ETA given to the customer. Late deliveries equal poor service.

Here’s how the challenges fleet managers face can be overcome through telematics and workflow automation.

What is digitalization?

Paper-based systems make your list of tasks as a fleet manager longer. They add more administrative duties and slow down your processing time.

Switching from manual to digital fleet management helps you to communicate schedules better and improve fleet driver management.

Digital fleet solutions to manage drivers in the field can reduce the risk of human error, ensure time efficiency and keep expenses low.

Why consider using automation and digitization in your fleet management?

As a fleet manager, you need full control of your fleet or schedule mishaps, lower driver safety and higher fuel costs may hinder the business’s success.

You’re only one person and can only do so much, which is why companies like yours are automating some or all their daily fleet management tasks. 

How can businesses leverage automation and digitization of fleet workflow? 

Digitizing business functions gives you the chance to reallocate your resources to focus on more important aspects of your fleet management role. 

When your time is spent less on managing admin tasks and more on your customers, you’re able to focus on providing better service. 

By choosing to digitalise tasks like expense management, choosing and dispatching drivers for each job, and sending updates to customers, you’re able to shift your efforts into growing the business. Here’s how: 

1. Daily scheduling made easy

Fulfilling numerous daily orders doesn’t have to be a fuel and time management nightmare. To get all your vehicles to the correct addresses at the right time, with the lowest mileage possible, you’ll need a fleet management solution that makes your planning quick and simple.

A good fleet management system identifies the best suited driver for each job, while assisting in route planning and the most efficient sequence for your deliveries.

2. Keep an eye on your fleet 

Tracking the progress of vehicles once they’re on the road is made simpler with a telematics solution.

Telematics technology enables remote access to vehicle locations, accurate traffic updates and dynamic route options, all from a clear map on your computer or cell phone screen. 

3. Stay in touch with drivers 

Digital fleet management helps you co-ordinate your team, no matter its size.

When you have several vehicles out on the road, it’s vital to communicate clearly and quickly with each one in case your schedule doesn’t quite go according to plan and needs to be adapted to last minute changes. 

4. Encourage road safety

When your drivers receive a message from you informing them of a change or requesting an update, there’s no need to for them to take their eyes off the road.

Digital driver fleet management, like TomTom Telematics’ Driver Terminal, is visible from the vehicle’s dashboard and reads the messages aloud to the driver.

Not only does this aspect of fleet management software improve road safety, but also increases productivity in business. 

5. Step up your fleet driver management 

While tracking your vehicles, why not ensure your fleet management software monitors driver behaviour? How your drivers operate your vehicles will affect the amount of money the business spends on fuel and maintenance.

Digital fleet management can help you obtain key data that can help you discourage speeding, excessive accelerating and sudden braking. Use this information to increase your safety training efforts and save money.

6. Take the stress out of scheduling 

Payroll has never been easier with digital fleet management technology. Automatically register your drivers’ working times with digitised fleet management solutions and learn to manage this aspect of your role better.

Make your job easier, your drivers safer and your business more productive with reliable fleet solutions.

What is the best software to use to improve productivity and decrease costs? 

You don’t have to sacrifice large financial investment to boost productivity, but a fleet management system with a good dispatching service that can integrate with existing ERP systems is a must, says Manson. 

Automating and digitising the drivers’ trip sheet allows office staff to focus on other important tasks and client service. “The digitised trip sheet will allow the driver to get to the destinations faster and automated feedback to the business means less time spent on the phone with drivers,” he says. 

How can a business select the right automation fleet workflow supplier? 

Do you understand the various fleet management solutions on offer? This is best way to make the right decision as a fleet manager. The type of solution you choose should be able to integrate into the business’s existing systems and automate workflow processes relating to the fleet. 

“It is also important that the potential supplier understands your business and is able to ‘connect the dots’ and make recommendations as to the best solution,” adds Manson.   

What boxes must the fleet management solution tick? 

According to Manson, as a fleet manager you should ask your potential supplier the following questions prior to deciding on a suitable fleet management system for the business:

  • Does the solution offer the ability to easily integrate with existing systems? 
  • Is the solution able to update workflow steps automatically, without the need to call a driver? 
  • Does the solution support the client services strategy, i.e. ability to update clients on progress, possible delays and provide accurate information from a billing perspective? 
  • To what extent does the solution contribute towards driver well-being and driver feedback? 
  • What guarantees are in place for the client, in terms of data accuracy, system uptime and data security? 
  • How scalable is the solution and will the solution fit the client’s future operational needs?

Common pitfalls to avoid 

“The tendency is to throw everything at an automation project, which often creates confusion and opens the door to scope creep,” says Manson.  “I always prefer a phased approach.”

He advises establishing your short-term goals first. These are the small things that automation will add immediate value to, like avoiding traffic, billable hours and automated dispatching, for example.

When the quick wins are made first, moving to the next stage of the fleet tracking management process is a smoother transition. “The change process is critical,” says Manson. “This way the resources in the business, whether drivers or operational resources, are not overloaded with new information.” 

Enquire about TomTom’s WEBFLEET solution

TomTom Telematics, through WEBFLEET, is perfectly positioned to provide clients with a solution that pays for itself. Achieve fleet management success by visiting TomTom’s website for more on our class-leading, innovative, revenue-generating solutions today.
 

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