Negosentro.com | Keeping Your Fleet Running Smoothly: 7 Business Vehicle Maintenance Tips | Transit and freight shipping companies aren’t the only business entities that maintain fleets of company vehicles. Contractors, courier services, landscaping companies, and even insurance adjusters all maintain company fleets, as well. What all these types of companies have in common is that they need to keep their fleets running smoothly if they want to ensure the success of their businesses. Business owners and fleet managers can read on to find seven fleet maintenance tips that can help.
- Prepare for the Worst
No matter how fastidiously fleet managers stick to maintenance schedules and how cautiously employees drive, there’s always a chance that something will go wrong. That’s why it’s important for businesses to have commercial vehicle insurance. One of the most affordable ways to insure a fleet of company vehicles is to include the policy as part of one of the business insurance packages available at Garrity Insurance.
- Provide Preventative Maintenance
Preventative maintenance helps to keep fleets running on schedule by addressing potential problems before they come up. Just about all drivers perform some forms of preventative maintenance on their vehicles, such as oil changes and tire rotations, but fleet managers should go one step further. They should also perform routine vehicle safety inspections to check fluid levels and belt tension and look for signs of wear that could lead to premature failure of essential components.
While fleet managers with even minimal experience in automotive mechanics can check for basic issues such as low fluid levels and proper tire inflation, it’s important to have certified mechanics perform more comprehensive preventative maintenance checks. They’ll be able to identify problems that could cause accidents or breakdowns in advance and replace the worn-out parts before they cause more substantial damage. This helps the company keep running smoothly by avoiding the need for unnecessary employee downtime.
- Communicate with Drivers
Every company that maintains a fleet of vehicles for its drivers use should also have a company policy in place regarding drivers’ responsibilities behind the wheel. This policy should be communicated clearly to drivers. Let them know about maintenance policies and schedules and come up with a plan for what to do if a vehicle breaks down or is involved in an accident.
Employees that know what is expected of them and what to do if an emergency situation comes up will be better equipped to take their responsibilities as company drivers seriously. This applies to field contractors and couriers just as much as it does to truck drivers at freight transport companies. Get everyone on the same page and make sure they stay there.
- Keep Proper Records
A clear, well-organized data storage method is a must for ensuring proper fleet maintenance. Most fleet managers already keep logs signed by drivers each time they take out a vehicle that include the driver’s name, the date, and the times that the vehicle was checked out and returned, but they should go one step farther.
Managers also need to keep data on vehicle conditions. Keep digital and physical records of mileage before and after shifts, all preventative maintenance checks, known mechanical problems, tire pressure and condition, common routes, and alternate routes that help drivers avoid heavy traffic. Access to this information in digital form will help to streamline both vehicle maintenance and drivers’ schedules while keeping a paper trail can provide a backup in the event of data loss.
- Hire Responsible Employees
Any company that uses commercial vehicles should exercise caution when hiring new employees. All drivers should have valid licenses with appropriate class requirements and should undergo physical exams to ensure that they can safely drive company vehicles. Truck drivers should have commercial driving licenses (CDLs) appropriate to the vehicles they will be handling and Department of Transportation (DOT) medical cards.
Don’t stop at checking licenses and performing a medical exam. If employees will be using fleet vehicles, they need to be responsible enough to take care of them properly. Perform background checks and drug screenings and ask for references from previous employers to ensure that job candidates’ behavior and skill levels are appropriate to their positions and that anyone who will be approved for access to the fleet vehicles can use them safely.
- Take Advantage of Software Solutions
Managing large fleets can get confusing, so fleet managers should not hesitate to take advantage of specialized software solutions that allow them to track maintenance and vehicle use easily. Using software designed specifically for fleet management makes it easier to control operational costs, improve regulatory adherence, increase fleet visibility, and manage fuel use. This can improve both the company’s profits and its drivers’ job satisfaction reports.
The best software solutions vary based on what industry companies are in and what services they provide. However, all fleet managers can benefit from software that features real-time driver alerts, route optimization, and GPS tracking. For field contractors, look for software that can also allocate tasks to agents in the field, depending on their location, so they can get to clients’ properties as quickly as possible.
- Review the Fleet Management Plan Frequently
A well-executed fleet management plan can reduce managers’ stress, ensure driver safety, increase regulatory compliance, make it easier to manage costs, and improve the brand’s image by ensuring that all vehicles are kept in good shape both mechanically and aesthetically. As company fleets grow and vehicles or drivers are replaced, fleet managers should review these plans periodically to keep them up-to-date. Performing periodic audits of key performance indicators is one of the best ways to keep fleets running as smoothly as possible.
The Bottom Line
Fleet managers have a lot on their plates, whether they manage dozens of 18-wheelers or just a few work vans. They can improve the performance of company vehicles by coming up with a comprehensive fleet management plan, providing preventative maintenance, and ensuring that everyone is on the same page when it comes to vehicle safety. Even the best-laid plans don’t negate the need for comprehensive commercial auto insurance, though, so don’t forget to take out policies that cover all company vehicles.