When you’re looking at ways to improve your small business and increase revenue, fleet management might not be the first thing you consider. However, improved fleet performance helps reduce insurance costs, keep customers satisfied and prevent costly repairs.
For service businesses or companies doing their own delivery, fleet vehicles are a vital part of day-to-day operations. How well you maintain your fleet even filters down to the morale of technicians in the field.
According to Statista, there are over 11 million fleet trucks in the United States, with the majority running on diesel. However, those numbers might not include smaller brands with just a handful of vans or pickups.
With so many companies using fleets, one way to gain an edge over the competition is by managing your own better. You’ll save money, time and keep your customers happier. What can you do to manage your fleet and ensure you gain the many advantages possible?
Keeping your fleet in tip-top shape is one of the best things you can do for fleet management. When you schedule regular oil changes, check tire pressure and keep an eye on other system checks, you’ll ensure major damage doesn’t occur to your vehicles.
For example, if no one is checking the oil and you go too long between changes, you could damage your engine. Low tire pressure could result in poor fuel efficiency. There are many reasons to conduct regular maintenance of all your company vehicles.
You might spend a little more upfront for an electric fleet, but the costs of ownership are less over the life of the vehicle. You’ll have lower ongoing fuel costs with an electric vehicle. Depending on current programs, you may be able to get a rebate or incentives for buying electric, too.
With the rising cost of fuel prices, it might make sense to go with a hybrid approach. Replace current vehicles with electric ones as needed. You may want to keep a few gasoline-operated ones on hand in case of issues with charging your vehicles. You’ll still have a way to serve your customers no matter what goes on with fuel or electricity.
Charts can keep your fleet management plans on track. If you have more than one person managing your fleet, one might think maintenance was completed when it hasn’t been. Having a sheet gives each person who looks at and works on the fleet a chance to check off tasks as they’re finished.
By the same token, putting one person in charge of the fleet makes it easier to know what’s going on. If one person is in charge of maintenance plans and even figuring out who drives what vehicle, they will begin to see patterns that might save the company money.
For example, if one route runs longer than the others, it might make sense to send a more fuel-efficient vehicle out with that technician. If a particular brand breaks down frequently, your next purchase might be from a different automaker.
Autonomous vehicles may come into being sooner than anyone thinks. Already, some companies use them to deliver groceries or drive people to appointments. Robot cars will one day be on the horizon. As a company, you have to figure out when it makes sense to add them and if it will save you enough money to justify the costs.
Already, companies such as Tesla offer Autopilot for trucks. The driver can engage the system when they need it by using adaptive cruise control and lane centering. Such features ramp up driver safety and help prevent accidents.
Although we may be a long way away from a truck that drives itself to the customer, does the work and drives back, there is still an awareness of the possibilities and an adoption toward some features of autonomous driving.
Analyze the paths your vehicles take. If you have a team zig-zagging across town, you might not be using your fleet to the best of its ability. Use big data to punch in various routes where you typically deliver or serve customers.
Look at ways to decrease the miles each team drives. Can you send someone to a different job to save a few miles here and there? Perhaps the way you order the tasks makes a difference in how many times the crew crosses from one end of town to the next.
For example, if you have a job on the west end of town, the next job shouldn’t necessarily be on the east end. Instead, send the vehicle to the middle of town and then out to the other end. Optimize the route and save money on fuel and save your crews time. The entire process will be more productive and efficient.
It isn’t always easy to talk about safe vehicle operation. After all, you may value the teams driving for you and not want to criticize them unnecessarily. However, if they drive crazy and get in an accident, then it increases your liability and insurance costs.
There is also the unseen costs of damage to your brand reputation. If your drivers cut people off in traffic or sway into their lane, they’ll decide they’re never calling you when they need the service you offer.
You can add fleet management dash cam and sensors to fleet vehicles to track driving habits and other details. Use the information to establish company-wide policies and improve driving records.
Making small changes to the way you manage your fleet, such as using and seeing fuel card benefits, can result in big savings and improvements. Take the time to analyze how you’re doing and implement the things necessary to improve your record.
Author bio: Eleanor is the editor-in-chief at Designerly Magazine. She’s also a freelance web designer with a focus on user experience. Eleanor lives in Philly with her husband and dog, Bear