Opinion

The year of intelligent fleet management

2015 was a pretty fabulous year for corporate fleet management.  Over the past twelve months many of the principal parameters related to measuring a fleet's financial performance moved in the right direction. Healthy competition in the lease market saw buyers leverage their strong negotiating skills, whilst low interest rates, stable residual values, low insurance premiums and a falling fuel price contributed to positive changes in the Total Cost of Ownership equation. Wouldn't it be wonderful if everything continued to move in the same direction next year? It sure would! 

But, dear fleet manager, don't rest on your laurels. We've been on a good run recently. Sadly, at some point, it will come to a stop. Whilst the sun shines make hay, but also, get prepared for tough times. It's time to get to know your fleet inside and out.   Knowing everything about the fleet means that potential future shocks can be predicted and prepared for, and their impact softened. So are the actions you should be thinking about taking to soften the impact of potential market shocks? 

Pay attention to the fleet mix. Diesel is under pressure  at the moment and stakeholders show no sign of letting go. Alternative powertrains, more widely available and more viable than ever before, are an option to be explored. 

Mixing up the model mix - alongside the powertrain mix - in driver user profiles is something that can mitigate market shocks too. A mixed fleet means that a fall in residual values and second hand car sales can be contained before getting out of hand.

Turning to day to day in use fleet management practices, fuel efficiency should never be far from a fleet manager's mind.   Saving with fuel costs today translates into fuel savings tomorrow, and with the right behavioural change programmes the wins can be everlasting. 

Working with drivers on their behind the wheel performance will not just reduce fuel, but also improve fleet safety and insurance profiles. And, by getting to know drivers' better, you'll also get to know why and when they are using their cars. Gaining this type of knowledge supports the push for alternative mobility and tailoring mobility needs to business areas and individuals.

The way companies do business and how they travel is changing. Fleet management already reflects this change, but it's not static. Increased connectivity and the rise of shared cars is just the start. Topics like mobility budgets, mobility cards and car-pooling are not on the fringe of fleet management, or simply confined to a few people having conversations at fleet conferences and events. They are the types of conversations that more and more people want to have and need to have in order to drive future empoyee mobilility efficiently forward. 

With better information and knowledge on drivers, don't be blasé about privacy though. Drivers and corporate stakeholders need to work together to acknowledge, understand and address driver privacy concerns. This discussion needs even to be extended to a constructive dialogue between corporate fleet managers, lease and fleet management companies and car manufacturers in order to get clarity round the 'who owns the data' question. If you don't tackle privacy progress will be slow or, worse still, plans will stagnate. 

2016 with the rise of connectivity, telematics and smart mobility is all set to be the year of intelligent fleet management. If that's not something to get excited about, I don't know what is!

Authored by: Steven Schoefs