Establishing fleet policies and procedures is vital to running your fleet efficiently, profitably, and safely. If hastily planned, poorly written, and improperly managed, your fleet policy will be ineffective and can cause problems that affect both your fleet operations and your company’s overall profitability.
Policies and procedures should be:
- Easy to understand
- Comprehensive – covering all relevant areas
- Designed with compliance in mind
Taking the necessary time to create sound policies and procedures will provide a solid foundation for running your fleet more effectively and will help prevent problems from occurring in the future. While this is no small task, it’s well worth the effort.
Building Blocks for Success
Whether you’re developing new policies and procedures “from the ground up” or reviewing those currently in place, the key to their effectiveness is informed employees. Make sure that your employees are aware of the areas covered and review the specific details of each subject with them. Failure to do so is risking non-compliance, which can cause safety issues, lost productivity, government fines, and employee termination.
No two fleets are alike; but, typically, the areas you’ll want to cover are:
- Driver eligibility
- Vehicle acquisition/replacement process
- Vehicle registration
- Personal use of vehicles
- Vehicle support services, such as:
- Required maintenance
- Repair services
- Fuel types allowed
- Consequences for violations
- Steps to take if an accident occurs
- Risk management, including:
- Employee acknowledgment and understanding of:
- Company policy
- Insurance coverage
- MVR checks on drivers, cell phone, or electronic device used when operating a company vehicle
- Employee acknowledgment and understanding of:
- Contact information, including emergency contact and contact for questions regarding fleet policies and procedures
When developing your policies and procedures — new or updated —
take into account that, once implemented, they can become part of your company culture and can, therefore, be difficult to change. Careful planning and implementation can’t be stressed enough. Here are five key best practices to help you with that.
1. Do your homework — Talking with other fleet managers in your industry about their policies is a simple step that can yield a lot of useful information. Ask what areas they have included in their policies and why. Also, ask how they avoid common pitfalls. The more information you have to work with means better decision making during the development process.
2. Don’t go it alone — Your policy affects your entire company, so get as much input as you can from employees, interdepartmental supervisors, and senior management. Ask their opinion on the topics you are considering. Doing so will not only help you get buy-in, but it will give you a better understanding of their challenges and concerns. You want to develop a comprehensive and sound policy and ensure everyone is on board.
3. Outline and edit — Your policy needs to be clear, concise, and understandable by all employees. The best way to achieve that is to write out a detailed outline, based on the information you’ve gathered. With an outline, it’s much easier to see what to include and what to leave out. Write and edit with your audience in mind. While you want your policy to cover all the bases, you also want to avoid repetition.
4. Review carefully — Before your policy is implemented, it’s a good idea to have an attorney or your legal department review it for any red flags. After they have signed off, the policy should then be reviewed by department supervisors and senior management. Address any concerns they have and implement appropriate changes.
5. Implement and Distribute — After getting the green light, your next step is deciding the best way to distribute your policy. For example, you may want to post it on your company intranet, hand out a printed hard copy, or send it in an email. You could also use a combination of these methods. Develop a plan to introduce the policy to employees and also a way to ensure that they have received, read, and fully understand the policy. This could involve signing a form that they return to their manager.
A fleet policy works only if employees follow it. A good rule of thumb is to review and update it every six months or, at a minimum, annually. Allow for flexibility to make exceptions where necessary, and write your policy to fit the needs of your company. Last, but certainly not least, continuously reinforce your policies and procedures. Your fleet policy is not just your most important document, it’s the key to your success.
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