To Reduce Operational Expenses, Take a Proactive Approach to Fleet Management

The market has come to understand that in order to further reduce operational expenses, a proactive and preventative stand achieves a much quicker learning curve and provides immediate Return on Investment.

By Dante Pereira Passaro, TomTom Telematics

Fleet management is often considered a reactive activity. Analyzing behavioral patterns, sifting through data analytics and calculating service level agreements justify managerial decisions and spending patterns. The question is: could they have been avoided altogether? Could those cost centers have been reduced and budget allocated more effectively?

Interest in driver behavior and its cost impact has increased tremendously in the telematics space in the past couple of years. The market has come to understand that in order to further reduce operational expenses, a proactive and preventative stand achieves a much quicker learning curve and provides immediate Return on Investment.

Replacing Drivers Does Not Solve The Problem Of Driver Behavior

Let’s compare the pre-innovative fleet management era to the real-time ‘Safety Officer’ of today.

Companies now have full-time, dedicated professionals analyzing driver behavioral patterns, and their job is simple: reduce cost, reduce liability, and increase productivity of the fleet. Here’s the catch: Safety Officers tend to focus on driver management. They analyze harsh braking/steering events, review actual versus planned routes and unauthorized mileage/usage, and they provide (commonly) weekly feedback to each individual driver. Should a driver prove consistently unprofessional, he could be given warning, end up on hiatus, or be kindly asked to leave.

This, however, does not solve the problem. You may have replaced the driver with another; however, you have not resolved the abuse that the asset is taking because the new driver may have similar tendencies. Laying off an employee is easy, however, it is simply a patch on the issue, not a resolution.

Now, the salt in the wound is the financial impact: constant replacement of new brakes and tires, idling resulting in wasted fuel and wear and tear on the engine, high liability payout, and worst of all, reduced vehicle lifetime. When you made an investment of $100k on a truck, you assumed 500k miles return on investment, not 300k!

The Solution: Educate Drivers In Real-Time

Now that you have received a healthy dose of reality, allow me to take a step back and lend a helping hand. The good news: there are solutions. Allocating a Safety Officer to every vehicle is a great thought but is ultimately unrealistic and not worth the investment. What if we educate drivers in-cab and gain the opportunity to right a wrong while it is happening? Decreasing the learning curve from months to weeks? Seeing immediate Return on Investment?

It can be done. Tools like TomTom Telematics’ Active Driver Feedback do exactly this – they can hand-hold your drivers to a level of professionalism that will reduce cost, reduce complaints, and increase the vehicle lifetime.  All the while maintaining productivity, efficiency, and compliancy.  For example, TomTom’s Active Driver Feedback displays an audible and visual warning to the driver while he is engaged in poor driver behavior and allows for immediate correction.

Enable The Safety Office In Overall Fleet Management

See how you have now enabled the Safety Officer? They now have interactive “Lieutenants” in-cab that provide drivers with weekly feedback and proactively tell them how to change their driving behavior to help meet a company’s bottom line. The Safety Officer can now spend less time on singular-driver reprimand and instead focus energy on overall fleet management. Safety Officers can now advise company-specific improvements, write advisory notes educating the drivers on how their improved behavior is impacting the business (making them feel part of the solution and motivating them), and focus on what they were hired to do: reduce the cost of the company fleet and not micro-manage its drivers.

“The Safety Officer Can Now Spend Less Time On Singular-Driver Reprimand And Instead Focus Energy On Overall Fleet Management.”

In Summary, An Ounce Of Prevention…

In a nutshell, in order for your fleet to operate properly, and with the upmost efficiency and overall effectiveness, a plan of action needs to be established to prevent abuse on your company’s assets.  With that, we now arrive at our word of the day: prevention.

Prevent liability through professional driver behavior, prevent unnecessary wear and tear (thus operational expenses) of your assets, prevent early vehicle write-off by proactive maintenance task management and prevent lack of productivity (the more vehicles in for maintenance the less vehicles out on the road being productive). Ladies and gentlemen: prevent not having Active Driver Feedback.

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