Fleet management, like many parts of the shipping industry, is equal parts art and science. It’s a delicate balancing act between keeping everything moving forward efficiently and networking, while ensuring you’re in compliance with local, state, and federal regulations.
Let’s take a look at some fleet management best practices that you should include as part of your standard operating procedures if you don’t already.
Fleet management is useless if you don’t maintain your vehicles. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, as the old saying goes. Preventive maintenance prevents your equipment from breaking down unexpectedly by catching small problems before they become big ones.
In the long run, it can also save money by keeping your fleet running optimally and can even help reduce your carbon footprint.
Safety should be the foundation of your fleet management best practices. Drivers who don’t obey the rules of the road, or who collect citations like baseball cards, don’t just damage their own reputation. They can also impact your company’s standing and leave you facing expensive fines and even litigation.
Training doesn’t stop at onboarding, especially when it comes to best practices. Continual training throughout a driver’s career can help ensure everyone adheres to your standard operating procedures and best practices. It might seem like a waste of time, especially if that training takes your drivers off the road for extended periods, but it can help keep your teams safe.
Necessity may be the mother of invention, but we don’t need invention anymore — we need innovation. Adopting new technologies and techniques as they’re introduced to the industry isn’t optional anymore. This sort of innovation is necessary to stay competitive in an already ultra-competitive industry.
Optimal fleet management and best practices don’t mean you need to hang on to every vehicle until it breaks down completely. Running your vehicles into the ground is a waste of your investment.
Instead, determine your optimal replacement time. This includes variables such as expected use, mileage, service life, purchase cost, and resale value at end-of-life. Depreciation is a challenging variable to measure because it changes so swiftly.
Transparency is something that is becoming increasingly necessary across nearly every industry. Companies and consumers alike want to know where their supplies are coming from and what kind of people they’re working with.
Transparency in as many aspects of fleet management as possible should be part of your best practices. You don’t need to betray company secrets or tell curious consumers how many toothpicks are in your break room. But where it’s important, transparency will help you create the kind of reputation you want to display.
Compliance with federal, state, and local laws is essential to the success of any fleet. Even if you comply with these regulations, it's up to you and your drivers to carry the necessary proof to display at weigh stations or in the event a driver is stopped en route. Ensure you are always carrying proof of certification any time your fleet vehicles are on the road.
It’s difficult to create a set of best practices for fleet management if you don’t even truly understand your company or the market where you operate. Take the time to develop a deep and comprehensive understanding of your company as well as the role your fleet plays within the companies around it.
They’re fond of saying that no man is an island, but that applies to companies as well. Don’t neglect networking. You don’t need to share state secrets, but sharing things like best practices and headhunting tips can help you build a large and effective network of companies that can support one another while still remaining competitive.
The practice of fleet management is a delicate balance between art and science, and it takes practice and application to perfect it. These best practices provide a foundation to build a fleet and a company you can be proud of for decades to come. Start with the simple things, like networking or transparency, and work your way up to the more complex tasks.