Fleet professionals struggle with costs, ELD mandate, report says

By Tyson Fisher, Land Line staff writer | Friday, October 20, 2017

What are the most challenging aspects of running a transportation company in 2017? Fleet management tech company Teletrac Navman asked fleet operations and fleet management professionals that question. The top two business challenges? Managing costs and regulatory changes.

According to the 2017 Telematics Benchmark Report conducted by Garden Grove, Calif.-based Teletrac Navman, more than 40 percent of those surveyed found managing costs to be a struggle. Challenges include payroll, fuel costs, maintenance insurance, equipment and vehicle purchase/lease costs.

After managing costs, a quarter of respondents listed regulatory changes as a major hurdle in conducting business. The report refers specifically to the ELD mandate, stating that regulatory changes causing problems should be “no surprise.” In fact, the top listed planned investment was implementing technology for regulatory compliance.

Nearly three-quarters of those surveyed cited the ELD mandate as their top compliance concern. Despite those concerns, more than three-quarters said they will be compliant by the deadline.

Perhaps more interesting, the ELD readiness was proportional to the size of the fleet. On a 1-5 scale, fleets of up to nine vehicles rated ELD readiness at 3.70. However, fleets of more than 500 vehicles rated their readiness at 4.5.

Fleet professionals and the drivers may not see eye-to-eye on the ELD mandate. Only 12 percent of professionals did not see any benefit with the ELD mandate. Professionals believe ELDs will eliminate manual processes and reduce the risk of compliance violations.

Despite the difference in opinions, more than a quarter are doing nothing to reduce drivers’ qualms. Whereas many are offering educational sessions or otherwise communicating the benefits of ELDS, 28 percent reported they are doing nothing about driver concerns regarding ELDs.

Also on the list of business challenges:

  1. Managing costs – 41 percent
  2. Regulatory changes – 25 percent
  3. Finding/retaining/developing talent – 23 percent
  4. Minimizing vehicle/driver incidents – 23 percent
  5. Business expansion – 22 percent
  6. Growing revenue – 20 percent
  7. Risk management – 14 percent
  8. Customer retention – 5 percent
  9. Other – 3 percent

Moving forward, fleet professionals were asked to list their business goals. Topping the list at 39 percent was to reduce operational costs. In a close second at 31 percent, professionals also want to increase profits.

More than 60 percent of fleet professionals plan on adding equipment or increasing their fleet size in the next year. Teletrac Navman notes that acquiring new equipment can help retain and attract drivers, the third most challenging business issue.

On the issue of retaining good drivers, most fleets are practicing positive reinforcement. Nearly 60 percent of fleets said they currently reward drivers for better performance.

In terms of infrastructure, nearly half said traffic congestion was their main concern. Nearly a quarter were troubled about the aging roads and bridges. Recent statistics released by the U.S. Department of Transportation confirm the legitimacy of those concerns. Truck traffic is expected to dramatically increase by 2045. Meanwhile, a $1 trillion, 10-year infrastructure bill proposed by President Trump has been sitting in limbo.

More than 1,200 fleet operations and fleet management professionals were surveyed. Of those professionals, the vast majority were managers, executives or owners. Only 3 percent identified as a driver/equipment operator. More than 80 percent of the fleets represented have less than 100 vehicles, with nearly a quarter having one to nine vehicles.

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