Embrace change to be flexible and efficient
Change is inevitable, and, in the fleet management space, expecting and preparing for change is the only way to stay ahead of the game.
“Those who embrace change and make the most of it will thrive,” says David Molapo, head of Standard Bank Fleet Management.
“Risky decisions have to be made about when to adopt new technology – too soon and you get blamed for squandering scarce company resources, too late and you get blamed for making the company lose market share to more edgy competitors.
“Not only do top executives have to be convinced to accept new systems, but so does virtually everyone else in the company, including the drivers,” Molapo says.
According to Molapo, advanced telematics is one of the most profound changes right now. He lists six others of which he believes fleet managers need to be aware:
- Ownership models: Fleets in many parts of the world have moved to leasing or renting as the primary ownership model for their vehicles. In various instances, it is cheaper and more efficient to enter into full maintenance or rental contracts than to own vehicles.
- Fuel prices: Fuel prices fluctuate continuously. As fuel is a significant contributor to fleet running costs, it is worthwhile to always have a strategy to reduce fuel consumption – through better driver behaviour, good maintenance management, combating fraud and pilfering, and, of course, considering using fuel-efficient vehicles.
- Vehicle technology: This is a major factor in purchasing decisions and includes technology that improves fuel efficiency, safety and durability. “As hybrid, electric and self-driving vehicles proliferate, fleet managers can expect much decision-making agony in years to come, but also excitement,” says Molapo.
- Staff outlook: Prudent fleet managers have learnt to not take their drivers for granted and to be on the lookout for suitably qualified new recruits. “Fleet managers who do not constantly sharpen their people-management skills, face the prospect of a high turnover of drivers,” he suggests.
- Regulations: Changes to road traffic regulations mean that people who hire transport companies now have to be more accountable. This means that many road-freight fleets will have to adopt more formal safety procedures and systems.
- Road conditions: “In a developing country like South Africa, roads change all the time, and prudent route planning is an important tool of the nimble fleet manager,” Molapo concludes.