It doesn’t matter whether you have an enormous fleet of big-rigs or a few private cars – you need to be certain your fleet is working for you. Instead of hoping your drivers and cars are performing optimally, you need to take steps to ensure your efforts at amassing a healthy fleet aren’t going to waste. A sub-optimal fleet costs untenable amounts of money and harms the equipment and the environment, to boot. The following tips should help new fleet managers understand all they can about their fleets and stay in-the-know into the future.
Measure Everything (That Matters)
There is something undeniably alluring about data, especially when you can get your fleet management software to put that data in visually appealing graphs and charts. Even better, data can be extremely useful at identifying features of your fleet that need fine-tuning or are functioning at peak capacity.
Still, not every aspect of your fleet needs to be measured. In fact, generating that much data can bog down your business, forcing you to sift through numbers and information that don’t impact the success (or failure) of your fleet. Therefore, you should limit what you measure to what truly matters, such as asset availability, asset utilization, and on-time preventative maintenance rates.
Act First, React When You Have To
If you are constantly reacting to issues with your fleet – collisions, emergency maintenance, etc. – there is something seriously wrong with your management style. Reacting to issues takes more time, money and effort than necessary; instead, you should be anticipating issues and working to prevent them beforehand.
One of the most crucial areas in which you need to act is operator safety. Though you might have a driving policy to which you hold all operators accountable, you don’t know whether they are upholding your rules every moment they are behind the wheel – unless you monitor them. While you are surveying fleet management solutions, you should try to find one that offers operator monitoring features or else supplement your software with monitoring tools of your own.
Make Maintenance Easy
On a related note, you shouldn’t be surprised when your fleet needs maintenance. There is no such thing as a perpetual motion device; all machines need regular service to continue functioning optimally.
Maintenance is easier on fleets when you anticipate maintenance needs and can schedule it, so it doesn’t interfere with client needs or delivery deadlines. You should be able to rely on your fleet management tools to help you build a maintenance schedule replete with alerts, but you also need to remember to participate in this preventative maintenance. Ignoring the alerts won’t help your fleet or earn you bigger profits; it will only wear down your equipment and set you up for costly, emergency repairs.
Document Everything (Digitally)
This is good advice for all businesses, not just those with fleets: Ditch your space-hungry file folders. Because fleet-based businesses do require plenty of information on hand – such as operator licenses, maintenance schedules, invoices, product manuals and more – you could easily drown in the necessary paper. It is much cheaper and faster for you to invest in cheap, online storage options. With these, you can access information from any internet-connected device anywhere in the world, so you can always keep your fleet running smoothly.
Learn Everything (About the Industry)
Hopefully, you know enough about your industry to run your business somewhat effectively, and if that’s true, you should be able to admit that the industry is constantly in a state of change. Advanced technologies are constantly disrupting fleets everywhere, and it is important that you know ahead of time what tech is emerging and whether it will impact your market or not. You should seek awareness of your industry and knowledge of ramifications through an industry association, trade publications, and blogs; you might also visit an industry conference or two throughout the year to see the latest and greatest innovations in fleets.
Keep Operators Happy
Finally, until autonomous vehicle technology becomes more widely accepted – and even after that until autonomous vehicles can function without a humans standing by – you need to keep operators on staff. Unfortunately, that means you can’t just function as a fleet manager; you also need to be a people manager. You can set goals for operator performance, but you also need to keep their health and satisfaction in mind when setting rules and expectations. Otherwise, you will have high operator turnover rates, which will cost you time and money – and could jeopardize your fleet.
It’s not enough to have a fleet now; you need to manage your fleet effectively, keep it healthy and happy and be on the cutting edge of the industry if you want to have a fleet for long. Fortunately, there are tools available to help you optimize your fleet, so you can manage it successfully without devoting too much time or energy.