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When you manage a small fleet of vehicles for a trucking company, the number of software options that are available to you can be pretty overwhelming. You have a lot of responsibilities, and there are tools available for each task associated with the job.

How do you know which fleet management system is right for you? What features should you be looking out for when you make a decision?

Understanding Fleet Management Software

Companies and organizations use fleet management software to maintain and operate their fleets of commercial vehicles. This software does more than just provide users with a single computer program. It can be installed across your entire technology system. That means it is part of the vehicles themselves, as well as on apps (both on phones and tablets) and computer systems.

Fleet management looks different from company to company. For small fleets, the software makes it easy to coordinate all of your vehicles and the various services they need. Electronic data collection and storage is an essential part of fleet management, and your chosen software should make both of those things easier to manage and analyze.

Electronic data management is a great way to avoid lost or delayed paperwork, as well as human mistakes. If you haven’t transitioned from paper records to fully electronic data management, fleet management software can help you make that change. After all, you already need to use Electronic Logging Devices (ELDs)

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Your Complete Fleet Management Checklist

Following the steps in this checklist will help keep your team on the road, lower operating costs, and keep jobs rolling in. Download today to optimize your fleet management skills.

Features to Look For

What features should you be looking for when you choose a fleet management software system? How will your company use the various features that are a part of your fleet management suite? What features should you prioritize over others? How can you make sure that the system you choose helps you find great freight and increase profits? There are a lot of fleet management systems out there; however, not all of them are designed to support the unique needs of a trucking company.

In this section, we will break down what specific capabilities you should look for when choosing a fleet management system, such as freight optimization, and safety and compliance management.

These are the features that will help keep you compliant, provide navigation assistance to your drivers, increase overall productivity and communications, and help you track all of your vehicles.

Compliance Features

One of the responsibilities of fleet management is to assist with regulatory compliance issues. Because all commercial trucks need to have ELDs installed that monitor Hours of Service (HOS), fleet management software tends to view ELD compliance as a standard feature.

Through good software, the truck driver and dispatcher alike will have access to relevant data. With appropriate permissions, data edits can be made to more accurately reflect drive time. Data should also be accessible to safety inspectors at roadside stations. That way, they can quickly download the relevant information and verify your drivers’ compliance. In addition, you can use your fleet management software to track components of Driver Vehicle Inspection Reporting (DVIR) requirements, such as HOS.

One final compliance issue is the International Fuel Tax Agreement (IFTA), which you must abide by, especially drivers traveling long distances or across state lines. Your fleet management software should keep you from under- or over-paying fuel taxes.

Navigation Tools

Navigation systems will optimize driver routes due to route planning, toll locations and costs, re-fueling locations, traffic updates, and so much more. These systems help your drivers avoid wasting time, mileage, and money.

Productivity Support

Productivity is about increasing profits by reducing costs. One great way to do this is to reduce fuel consumption. Other strategies are to improve route efficiency, increase compliance and safety, and reduce the downtime you spend addressing accidents and maintenance.

Ideally, your fleet management system will provide plenty of options to help everyone in the company become more productive. That includes drivers and dispatchers alike.

GPS Tracking

There are many benefits to accurately tracking your fleet via GPS software. For example, you can get information about total travel time, potential delays for deliveries, and more. When choosing a fleet management system, be sure to choose one that accurately informs you where your trucks are at all times so you can track the loads they’re hauling.

GPS tracking, combined with your ELD system, also helps with sustainability efforts. You can plan more efficient trips that save you money on fuel costs and help you become a more environmentally friendly business.

Questions for Fleet Management Systems for Small Fleets

Your fleet management system unifies and supports a complex system of vehicles, individuals, software, mobile apps, installed devices, computers, and more. The more you can combine into one system, the more efficiently you can coordinate your fleet.

Here are some questions that will help you determine your fleet management needs:

  1. How many devices do you need? Devices will need to be installed within your fleet’s vehicles. These devices include ELDs, communication devices such as radios and mobile phones, and GPS navigation systems for the drivers to use. The number of devices is dependent on the number of vehicles in your fleet.
  2. How do you access your fleet management software? Depending on which software you use, you may access it slightly differently. Some software needs to be installed; in that case you’ll need to install the software on your computer. However, others are easily accessible through your computer browser, and do not require an installation process.
  3. Does your fleet management solution include apps with a great user experience? Mobile apps, including ones that give you easy access to loads should be accessible to owner-operators and dispatchers alike. These apps make it easy to quickly access and analyze the information that you collect from your trucks. These apps should also make it easy for your drivers to stay compliant and update their current load status. These apps make it easy to quickly access and analyze the information that you collect from your trucks.

How to Make the Right Choice

Small fleet management solutions should make your life easier, your drivers happier, and your company more profitable.

It’s not all about features, though. Even though the features listed above are important, you also need to consider some other aspects of your choice.

For example, will your fleet management system grow with you as your business grows? Can you scale up your use of the programs when you are experiencing periods of growth? Fleet management systems can be pricey, so investing in one that doesn’t grow to fit the needs of your business isn’t a good long-term solution. Look for a software that will grow with you, and won’t eat into your long-term profits.

Other things to look for are great customer service and installation support.

Before You Make a Choice, Identify Your Needs

What do you need to get out of your fleet management system? Are there any missing pieces in your current fleet management system that need to be present in your new system? Do you need to prioritize something like GPS fleet tracking for your small business, how you access the system, strong mobile app development, or great customer support?

How will you know if your needs are being met? Consider the ways that you will measure the success of your new software. For example, if you want to focus on GPS tracking, you can determine whether or not it’s successful by examining its accuracy. How often can you accurately track 100% of your vehicles? And more importantly, your loads? If the answer isn’t “all of the time,” you might need to choose a different management solution.

Do Your Research

Research can involve looking at company websites, emailing fleet software companies, and talking with representatives on the phone. You may want to request a demo to try out features, or watch videos that demonstrate how the software works in real time. Does the fleet management system specialize in helping you find freight?

What about the benefits of automatic load recommendations that fit your style of doing business? Consider whether the fleet management software can improve your company’s bottom line with capabilities like map search and recommendations based on your preferred lanes. Will your company’s bottom line be improved?

Find out about the cost of implementing the new system and maintaining it before making any decisions.

When you have a few finalists selected, request demos. Demonstrations allow you to gain first-hand experience trying out features and interacting with the platform. Is it easy to learn and interact with, or do you find yourself frustrated and unsupported? It’s also a great way to get to know the company that’s providing the fleet management system. Will they support you and answer questions about their products? Are they committed to your success and making sure their software is helping your business thrive?

Fleet management solutions are a major investment, and you want to make sure that you are choosing the best one for your small business. Dispatchers of small fleets, in particular, need to know all the ins and outs of their finalist software companies before making the leap because budget limitations often lead to small companies having to stick with one solution for a long time.

A Few Post-Installation Ideas

After you have made a choice and have had the software and devices installed, be sure to provide adequate training for your drivers and off-the-road team members. You can manage training yourself, or you can do what many small businesses do: outsource the training to a representative from the software company.

In addition, figure out ways to encourage drivers to use the software effectively. You can reward people who use the program, which encourages buy-in. People are often worried about big changes, so you should expect some hesitation. But if you incentivize the use of these new tools, people will quickly realize the benefits of the new program you have chosen.

Upgrade Your Fleet Management System with Xpress Technologies

Xpress Technologies is leveraging over 35 years of industry experience to provide small carrier companies and their dispatchers with the technology they need to get the job done. Our suite of fleet management solutions was designed by truckers for truckers.

The Xpress Technologies suite of fleet management solutions houses the tools that will streamline your business at no cost. With the Xpress Technologies App, dispatchers can access a load board that learns from your preferences, making it easier than ever to plan routes and backhauling. With Xpress Technologies, dispatchers are able to stay on top of compliance and safety issues, and cut costs using GPS tracking, productivity support, and navigation tools.

Customer service and accessibility come first at Xpress Technologies. That’s why dispatchers are able to easily contact and communicate with your drivers and clients using our no-cost suite of products.

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Looking for More Guidance? We’ve Made a Checklist. 

Our checklist offers several tips for running a successful small fleet management service. We’ve worked with countless dispatchers to help them increase freight loads, reduce costs, and see profit growth, thanks to a technology system created by people in the freight industry.  

Download this useful checklist today to find out what you could do next to improve your fleet management skills.