Getting employees out in the field or moving products in and out of your facility is often easiest with company vehicles.
Maintaining a fleet of company vehicles is a big management challenge. In addition to the expense of acquiring, insuring, and maintaining the vehicles, there is also the headache of trying to protect those expensive assets and the employees who drive them–often from hundreds of miles away.
Fortunately, there are processes and technology that can make the whole situation much more manageable for your team. Some simple steps and small investments will wash away much of the headache traditionally associated with fleet management. Here are some great ways to make your fleet work for you instead of the other way around.
Gathering & Using GPS Data
How long did a particular trip take? What did the fuel cost? Were there traffic issues you could have worked around? What’s the most efficient route? Questions like these require either extensive research and documentation or a technological solution. GPS tracking makes it very easy to keep your arms around all these factors and more.
GPS equipment ensures that all vehicles are going where they’re supposed to go when they’re supposed to go there, and via the most efficient route available. Properly managed, the resulting data can help you design optimum travel plans for every set of wheels in your fleet. That means less wear and tear on the engine, transmission, brakes, tires, and suspension–all of which are big-ticket items in your fleet budget. Good GPS data can also keep your vehicles away from damaging road conditions like construction and optimize route selection during inclement weather.
Auto thefts in fleet vehicles typically target the contents instead of the vehicle itself. Fleet vehicles are often practical, not luxurious, and they may have exterior lettering and logos that make them easy for law enforcement to detect.
However, what’s inside a fleet vehicle may be very intriguing. Pharmaceuticals, electronics, and even a small sum of cash can draw the attention of a would-be thief while your employee is away from the vehicle. Despite alarms and locks, your vehicle can easily become a target.
To deflect at least some of this risk, do as little as possible to advertise the vehicle’s contents. Do not label the exterior with specific info about the vehicle’s use. Instruct employees to hide valuable contents in the trunk and make sure it is covered in the cargo area. For pickups, consider bed tarps or tonneau covers to increase the time needed for a thief to “case out” the vehicle.
Sometimes we fall into the trap of thinking that anybody with the appropriate license should be able to drive our fleet vehicles. While this is true from the perspective of your state, it may not be on the mark for your particular vehicles.
We all know that every vehicle is different, and that’s why it’s so important to make sure not only that every one of your drivers gets a walk-through of the vehicle but also that everyone spends some considerable time behind the wheel with someone who has experience with your type of vehicle. Make sure you document their training as well; this could help reduce your insurance premiums and provide important backing for personnel issues.
Most importantly of all, though, good training will keep drivers from developing or using damaging driving habits. Your team will know how proper techniques for steering, braking, and loading the vehicle as well as how to drive it safely in inclement weather like snow. Careful drivers create long vehicle life, and drivers must be trained in proper operation.
Your company vehicles are a big part of your operation. They’re how workers get to the job site, how products get to customers, and the source of countless other essential functions. They’re also a big part of your bottom line. By the time you lease or purchase a vehicle, train its driver, insure it, maintain it, and repair it, you’ve made a big financial commitment. It’s essential to minimize all this overhead.
With a well-managed fleet, you’ll be able to grow your business efficiently and in a cost-effective way. The result will be more black ink and less red ink with vehicles that maximize useful life and minimize overhead.