By Chris Przybylski
Proper fleet management saves not only time, but money, particularly since vehicle acquisition and maintenance costs are among the top expenses for most companies. By properly managing your fleet, you can dramatically improve your bottom line.
Now that you’re running your vehicles regularly again, it’s vital that you’ve updated your maintenance schedule and documentation to match current use.
Step 1: Choose a Tracking Method
The first step in creating a fleet management program is choosing how you will track when maintenance is due, what has been done, and what it cost. The three most common methods are paper, spreadsheets, or fleet management software. Next we’ll explore the pros and cons of each of these methods.
Pros: Cheap, easy to use
Cons: Not searchable, preventative and reported maintenance items must be written down, difficult to track warranty claims and repeat issues, no reporting
Pros: Cheap, easy to use, searchable
Cons: Issues must be reported to the fleet manager to enter; warranty claims and repeat issues must be checked manually, no reporting
Fleet Management Software
Pros: Track issues reported by drivers, notifications when preventative maintenance is due, searchable. Reports allow cost, utilization, and fleet efficiency tracking
Cons: Cost, implementation
- If you aren’t ready to spend on a fleet management software, Google Forms will allow drivers to report issues and mileage into a spreadsheet.
- Train drivers on vehicle inspections (More information can be found in this article).
- Require all outside invoices be emailed. Far fewer will go missing.
- For PM intervals, schedule them ahead. For example, if you change oil every 5,000 miles, put it on the schedule at 4,500 so you don’t miss it.
- Conduct 90-day checks every odd month, or 45-day checks once per month. You’ll never miss one again.
- Walk the fleet whenever you can. Walking through once daily can identify most issues.
- Retain all records for 18 months after you sell the vehicle.
The method of tracking you chose in Step 1 largely will decide how issues are reported for Step 2. The three most common methods for reporting issues are: paper form, text message, and driver app. Ask drivers to include pictures, date/time, and more to quickly identify reported issues.
Relying on drivers to report issues is not enough. Many drivers either lack the knowledge or desire to conduct proper vehicle inspections. It is a good idea to assign someone more experienced to handle and document regular vehicle checks. Always keep a record of the inspections in case of a later issue.
Step 3: Set Preventative Maintenance (PM)
Once you’ve selected a method of tracking and reporting, create your maintenance schedule. Most maintenance schedules are based on either hours ran, mileage, or time. Many companies choose to follow manufacturer maintenance schedules. Depending on how your vehicles operate, you may need to do maintenance more or less often. Use GPS or driver reports to track mileage or engine hours.
Step 4: Use Your Data Make decisions based on data. A great example is cost per mile, or cost per hour. Add your maintenance cost to fuel cost and driver wages and you can figure out what it costs you to run each vehicle. Break your repairs into categories and you know which vendors you should focus on negotiating with. Compare downtime and cost per mile between vehicle types and you can add more profitable vehicles in each category.
A health fleet starts with a solid management schedule so that you aren’t missing any regular maintenance or issues that pop up when you’re busy. As staff returns, make sure you’re all on the same page by clearly defining roles and expectations with your fleet management program. [CD0621]
Chris Przybylski is the co-founder of LBC Fleet. HE can be reached at email@example.com.