Fleet Managers: How to Overcome Common Disruptions

Whether you manage a fleet of two vehicles or twenty, sooner or later they will play a role in disrupting your operations. Over time, vehicles break down and suffer issues that require immediate action.

Such incidents might have a negative impact on your business by forcing you to rent another vehicle or make do with part of your fleet down. You can’t prevent disruptions, but here are some ways to avoid certain predictable situations and mitigate the damage.

1. Use fleet management software

One of the best tools to help a company avoid disruptions is fleet management software. With software, you can optimize processes to minimize fleet vehicle downtime by staying on top of required maintenance and repairs.

For example, you can track when vehicles are due for regular maintenance, such as oil changes and tune-ups. You can also track and schedule periodic inspections for characteristic mechanical failures as a vehicle ages.

Another useful feature you get with software is reports on part failure rates. The system will let you see which items tend to fail after a vehicle has been operated for a certain number of miles or a specific period of time.

This is critical for preventive maintenance. When you know which parts might fail and when, you can replace an item before it fails at a crucial time. The system will alert your technicians when a part is beyond the point of usual failure so they can replace it right away.

2. Plan downtime for inspections

For full inspections, it’s a good idea to schedule downtime. If you don’t, your vehicles could end up breaking down on the road, and that will have a bad impact on your business.

You’ll probably have to pay for a tow, which can cost hundreds or thousands of dollars, depending on how far the vehicle dies from your mechanic’s garage. You’ll also have to cover repairs, some of which could have been avoided if you’d arranged for a timely inspection.

The best time to perform scheduled inspections is when a vehicle isn’t in use or when the driver has a day off. This may not always work out, but if you can arrange it, it’ll be worth it to schedule an inspection this way.

You can also take advantage of unplanned downtime to perform inspections. For example, if a vehicle is in the shop for an oil leak, have your technicians perform additional checkups, especially for older vehicles whose other parts might be about to break down.

The vehicle is out of service anyway, so you might as well take advantage of the situation.

3. Embrace diversity

During the Covid-19 pandemic, many fleet-dependent firms had to embrace diversity to overcome supply-chain disruptions. There was wisdom in this choice, and it can benefit your company to this day.

For example, if you can’t obtain certain supplies or raw materials, consider changing your product slightly in order to keep sales moving. Let your customers know about the change and emphasize that it’s only temporary.

You’ll probably find that some of your clients won’t mind at all, and business will resume as usual when supplies return to normal availability. The point is not to cut yourself off from sales because you haven’t got access to a familiar item.

It’s equally important to think outside the box and stay open to alternatives in terms of your vehicles. It may cost you more, but if you can’t get certain after-market parts, turn to OEMs for your suppliers, at least until supplies are readily available again.

4. Take great care when budgeting

Be diligent with your budget at all times. You may not foresee how mistakes could affect your business, but certain oversights can be devastating. For example, if you don’t account for inflation, you might experience short and long-term financial problems when you need to purchase items that have undergone a price hike. If your budget takes account of inflation, it will be easier for your decision-makers to argue for their needs even when operations go over budget.

5. Utilize GPS technology

Although GPS is designed primarily for tracking, it has uses that extend beyond simply knowing where your vehicles are. You can use GPS to track the routes your drivers take and get an idea of how much time each trip takes to complete.

This kind of information may help you optimize routes for traffic and other disruptions, such as temporarily closed streets and holiday parades. Another benefit to using GPS is allowing customers to track drivers in real time.

Whether you’re delivering packages or freight, providing services, or offering transportation, your customers will appreciate knowing where your drivers are to be assured they’ll show up on time.

Disruptions are inevitable

Disruptions are an unavoidable feature of running a fleet, but by following these tips, you can reduce the impact they have on your business.