Overseeing a fleet of vehicles can be a tough job. Anyone who’s been involved in fleet logistics has probably spent countless hours going over schedules, vehicle maintenance records, driver training requirements, and a host of problems and delays that have the tendency of popping up at the worst of times without a fleet strategy.
If you’re experiencing issues or have questions regarding fleet strategy, you’re not alone.
A good professional, though, is always looking to improve their methods. To guide you on your way, we’ve spent some time putting together a list of 5 insights to help you manage your fleet strategy better.
Many of them are tips and tricks we’ve picked up over the years. The overarching concepts can make a big difference in how your fleet functions and performs.
So without further ado, here are 5 insights to help you manage your fleet strategy:
1. Use Data Effectively
Depending on how it’s used, data can be either a huge benefit to your fleet or a bunch of overwhelming and useless information that eats up your valuable time. Using data effectively is all about identifying methods of interpretation that grant you insight into how your fleet functions.
Go into data interpretation with critical questions. How long does a certain route take on average? What sort of gas mileage do we get? Where’s the most effective place we could cut costs? Should I buy or rent vehicles for my fleet?
With these questions on your mind, you can then find effective routes to take through the swath of data. Utilizing a data management tool, isolate what’s most important and finally answer those questions. You are left with a method and can trace problems to their root source by following the data trail.
2. Identify Critical Areas of Improvement
In fleet management, problems are just part of the everyday experience. It’s all about how you face them. Include your fleet management as part of a comprehensive strategy of overall improvement in your company. If you need inspiration, you can research and read about large companies like Toyota.
They have become famous for their time-tested and incredibly effective methods of solving problems by identifying the root cause of problems and then finding an appropriate solution.
Another element to consider is that in your movement towards finding a solution, you should always try to include people involved in the process. Getting everyone involved from fleet drivers to top management not only gets more, often surprisingly insightful, ideas on the table, but also instills employees with the feeling that they have a voice that matters.
Oftentimes those most intimately associated with the function of the fleet, i.e. drivers, know key places where efficiency could be improved. Use this knowledge to your advantage.
3. Analyze Cost/Benefit of Employee Use
It might be time to consider changing your policy about employee’s personal use of fleet vehicles. Many companies allow for employees who need to go straight to worksites or other locations the use of fleet vehicles overnight. As convenient as this may be for employees and the company (saving time employees would spend transporting themselves to the office, picking up the car, etc.), there are a lot of other factors to consider that could be costing you.
One element is liability and after-hours use. The added risk of letting employees take fleet vehicles home often trumps the convenience it offers them and the company. Running a cost-benefit analysis will help you craft a final decision and make it a logical, not emotional choice. Many factors can go into such a decision, such as an employee’s geography and benefits, after-hours usage, and liability. Figure out what works best for you and your company and stick with that.
4. Invest in Driver Safety and Training
This is a key element that will pay dividends for the future of your fleet. Effective training for your fleet drivers goes a long way in helping your team perform in the long run and make sound decisions under pressure.
And it’s not just about safe driving either. Educate your employees on proper driving posture and other healthy habits that will keep them safe and happy during their workday. You can also work direct feedback from driver’s experience into your fleet strategy and incorporate more ergonomic systems into your vehicles, which means fewer aches and pains for your hard-working employees.
Also, training your fleet in the overall vision and ethos of the company will help them incorporate those things into their everyday performance. Instilling a sense of constant improvement and sharing of ideas into your team can create a positive atmosphere and help build a winning fleet.
5. Find Ways to Efficiently Implement Changes
This goes along with our previous point about getting everyone from your team involved in making changes. Implementing improvements isn’t just about surprising your fleet with sudden changes from upper management, it’s about tweaking things with the least disruption to your fleet performance. An unhappy team can be a much worse problem than having to slowly work a new concept into your fleet strategy.
That’s why we suggest you always get your fleet drivers involved and work with them to come up with the best solution for everyone. In the end, operating a fleet of vehicles can be a complex task. Take these 5 insights into your fleet strategy and you’re well on your way to forming a fleet that is the epitome of efficiency and performance.