Trends in Fleet Management 2021, Part 2: How to Leverage Them to Your Advantage

6 minute read

Planning for the new normal and beyond

How was your 2020? Chances are, it could have gone better.

The coronavirus disrupted just about everything, fleet trucking and operations included.

2021 is rapidly approaching, and things are still... well, disrupted. With a vaccine on the horizon, many are hoping for a return to normalcy. But there will be some bumps in the road yet.

Thankfully, there’s a lot fleet managers can do now to make next year better than the last.

Assess your situation

“The second quarter of 2020 was unlike any quarter we have seen in transportation, producing unprecedented day-to-day and week-to-week swings in freight and pricing due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” said James Reed, President of USA Truck. The company, like several other freight shipping giants, posted losses this year.

But other shipping companies were not as strongly affected by the pandemic — some even profited.

The fact is, 2020 was a little different for everybody. For some companies, unprecedented demand for e-commerce buoyed earnings. For others, the recession and the decreased spending that came with it cut into revenues at an alarming scale.

Here are some questions to ask to assess where you stand.

  • How were your customers affected? Did their shipping demands change? Are they likely to return to normal in the foreseeable future?
    • It’s a given that you should take a good, hard look at your revenue streams now. But you should also think about how they’re likely to change in 2021. Retail, which was dramatically affected in 2020, is outperforming recovery estimates for 2021.
  • Are your drivers happy?
    • Turnover rates are at all-time lows right now, as drivers hang on to their jobs in an uncertain world. But that may not be the case as the economy recovers throughout next year. To avoid the cost of hiring new drivers, listen to the ones you have — there may be simple things you can do to retain them.

      For instance, we have spoken with fleet operations managers who noted that, contrary to what some might expect, their drivers welcomed things like telematics-enabled monitoring of things like excessive hard braking and cornering, because it sets clear expectations of what being a good driver looks like to the company – and enables rewarding of good drivers come review time.
  • Have operational metrics changed?
    • It’s no secret that operations changed during COVID-19. But how exactly? Analyze your telematics data to figure it out. It should show key metrics like idle time, gas costs, and more. What these kinds of metrics show are always important, of course – and since any economic improvements in 2021 are likely to come slowly, they will also allow for data-driven forecasts of what fleet operations will look like in the near-term.

Pivot — or not

The economic landscape has changed — in some ways, for good, in others, not so much. As more people than ever transition to working from home, for example, e-commerce will continue to grow. The unprecedented demand for PPE, however, should slow down as the pandemic gets under control.

What does that mean for fleet shipping companies? After a careful assessment of whether the company’s former business model is sustainable, fleet executives must decide whether to pivot.

For companies whose former customers no longer require shipping help, it may be worth exploring new kinds of clients. Elevated demand for e-commerce fulfillment is not going away anytime soon. For shipping companies who are not earning enough revenue, exploring this sector could be an answer.

Not all strategy changes have to do with clients and cargo. Another option is reassessing vehicle replacement strategy. Are you opting to hold on to older trucks? Used vehicle prices are on the rise, making remarketing more attractive than ever.

This period of economic transition is ripe for updating company strategy, particularly if what worked in the past isn’t working now. If it is, on the other hand, there’s nothing wrong with staying the course.

Adopt — or upgrade — your fleet telematics solution

Amid the pandemic-related chaos, it’s easy to forget about… pretty much everything else. But if all the chaos of 2020 hadn’t happened, there would still be big news in the fleet shipping.

The fleet IoT sector is expected to grow to $8.28 billion in 2021.

This growth is due in part to impressive technological advances. One example is video integration. Modern telematics solutions can use AI-assisted driver cameras to alert fleet managers of distracted driving and other dangers before they result in an accident. 

And with the diffusion of the 5G network, data — even data as big as a video file — can travel fast enough for fleet managers to use it.

If you’ve been waiting to adopt a telematics solution, don’t.

For a relatively minimal investment, you can install a fleet telematics system that increases safety, identifies cost-cutting opportunities, and tracks driver performance. In uncertain times, that’s all the more important.

Position Logic has years of experience in the fleet telematics field. Learn more about the cutting edge of IoT technology and all of the ways that we can help your fleet operations survive troubled times – and come out on top in 2021 and beyond.

Topic(s): Fleet Management

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