As if managing drivers and staff members is not challenging enough for fleet managers, add in the additional day-to-day responsibilities, and the management challenges increase tenfold. There’s vehicle purchasing, scheduling vehicle maintenance, controlling fuel costs, developing safety programs, and ensuring compliance with government rules and regulations — all while trying to increase efficiency and profitability, while staying within established budgets.
With all of these responsibilities to juggle, the logistics of running a fleet can be highly complex. Because of this complexity, mistakes are more likely to occur. Clearly, these mistakes can cause frustration for both management teams and employees while costing a company time and money.
To help prevent mistakes from occurring in your fleet operation, let’s take a look at 10 of the most common errors that fleet managers make and how to prevent them from happening, no matter how many responsibilities you may have on your plate.
1. Poor Communication: Getting every employee on board means no mixed messages, regardless of their role.. With this in mind, hold regular staff meetings with the entire team to review overall goals and priorities, high-level items, and company news. Also, schedule regular one-on-one meetings between employees and their managers to encourage feedback and open communication. This gives employees a voice and makes them feel valued.
2. Bad Route Planning: Inefficient routes waste fuel and time and often leads to late deliveries. Using telematics for planning the most efficient routes, tracking routes, and making route modifications can lead to significant fuel and time savings. It can also lead to happy customers who stay with you for the long haul.
3. Insufficient Training: Assuming your employees know more than they do can be a very costly assumption. You’re only as good as they are, so put steps in place to make your employees the best they can be.
Proper training and certification are critical. Offer training programs and ongoing education so employees can keep up with new technology and learn new skills. Ensure staff licenses and certifications are kept current as well.
4. Not Following Preventative Maintenance Schedules: Postponing routine maintenance can cost you in the long run, due to breakdowns and downtime. Using a telematics tool that provides notifications when maintenance is due can help keep maintenance schedules on track. Some telematics solutions also have scheduling capabilities to help optimize the schedules of your employees and vehicles so that productivity is maintained when a vehicle is out of service.
5. Poor Outsourcing Decisions: Many fleets don’t have the internal resources to cover every area of responsibility adequately, and therefore, outsourcing may become necessary. One should take caution and put deep thought into the decision of what to outsource and what to keep in-house. Outsourcing the wrong tasks can prove costly and put a drain on productivity. A good rule of thumb is to outsource cheaper administrative and clerical tasks and keep your higher-level core tasks in-house.
6. Hiring the Wrong People: Making a snap decision to hire someone may be tempting when you’re understaffed but doing so can easily affect the morale and productivity of your team. One bad apple can spoil the whole bunch, especially if they are ineffective or uncooperative. A better hiring decision can be made by taking the time to review resumes and then setting up phone screens to interview your top candidates. Check references and be sure to keep your recruitment efforts organized to ensure a quality hire.
7. Allowing Exceptions: While everyone deserves a second chance, you’re making a costly mistake if you allow exceptions to become the rule. No matter how much you like an employee on a personal level, if their job performance is continuously below par, then it’s time to part ways. The best action is to avoid the first exception, since one exception typically leads to another.
8. Failing to Innovate and Adapt to Change: Refusing to embrace change or failing to come up with new solutions to keep your fleet running efficiently can mean that you’ll soon find your fleet doing the opposite. Technology is rapidly evolving so, keep up with it and stay aware of new devices, solutions, and software that’s available to the industry and that can benefit your fleet.
9. Giving Too Much Information: The key here is to keep it simple in your regular reports to upper management. Leave out unnecessary information and details that don’t matter and focus on the main takeaways. Doing so will save time for the parties that read your report. Plus, the more information you provide, the more information they have to dissect or find mistakes or errors.
10. Not Enforcing Fleet Policy: The best run fleets have comprehensive fleet policies that set clear rules for all employees. Successful policies are not written in stone but are live documents that are updated as your fleet needs change. Failing to enforce your fleet policy can mean out-of-control costs and can lead to safety falling through the cracks. If you don’t have a policy, spend time developing one. If you do have a policy, make sure all employees know it and abide by it. Update the policy as necessary. A fleet policy is a low-cost initiative that can provide a wide range of benefits.
To learn more about Fleet Management Best Practices, check out our latest guide.