Growing your transport, passenger, or services-oriented fleet is exciting as a small business owner, but as your fleet of vehicles and assets grow, so does the need to protect them as they age.
Unfortunately, keeping vehicles on the road at all times doesn’t come without its fair share of challenges. Compliance may be a key concern if your vehicles are subject to certain local, state, or federal regulations, but virtually every fleet manager will face vehicle maintenance and repair issues from time to time.
While it may seem daunting to deal with the complexities of managing a growing fleet of 5, 10, or even 100 vehicles, it helps to begin planning and implementing a few fleet management processes before it’s too late.
With that said, here are 5 important fleet management best practices to consider planning for in the future as you grow your business.
1. Leverage Data on your Fleet to Aid in Decision Making
Taking a reactive approach to fleet management, like tracking down paper inspection forms, tracking down mechanics to receive status updates on previous repairs, or guessing which vehicles are due for an oil change can be extremely frustrating for a small team.
Not only is a lack of process (or an outdated process) inefficient, but it really makes planning difficult due to the fact that unexpected expenses can’t really be predicted if drivers aren’t providing good data to make sense of.
You need a more proactive approach to support your growth.
Viewing data on your entire fleet can certainly help you make more informed decisions, but this is only relevant if you have a plan to collect this data.
The Staggering Cost of Vehicle Downtime
As your fleet grows, the amount of money that can be wasted due to the absence of a proactive, data-driven approach can be significant. According to projections by Element Fleet, fleet downtime can cost anywhere from $448 to $760 per day, per vehicle.
With the Whip Around app, many of our happy customers like iShuttle are finding that they are able to save 30 percent or more in maintenance costs by simply having visibility into small issues before they lead to major problems.
2. Prioritize Ongoing Fleet Management Education and Training
One of the fundamentals for staying current when it comes to compliance or general industry best practices is to prioritize continuing education and even industry certifications for yourself, fleet managers, or drivers.
One of the best ways to do this is online through NAFA, the largest non-profit organization for fleet managers. This North American organization offers both Automotive Fleet Manager (CAFM) and the Certified Automotive Fleet Specialist (CAFS) certifications.
A membership to NAFA also includes access to various resources, including webinars focused on DOT compliance, and everything fleet managers and owners need to know.
While NAFA offers one of the best programs out there, for some businesses concerned with safety and security, resources like OSHAcademy are also a good idea to explore.
If this is something your team needs to prioritize this year, check out our list of recommended online fleet management training resources.
3. Understand Your Specific DOT Compliance Obligations
Especially when juggling so many things at once, it’s important to understand certain compliance requirements outlined by the FMCSA you may be bound by.
While submitting daily pre and post-trip driver vehicle inspection (DVIR) reports is essential for ensuring vehicles are well maintained, for motor carriers it’s also important to be familiar with the 7 BASIC categories the FMCSA outlines as part of their CSA (Compliance, Safety, and Accountability) program:
- Unsafe Driving
- Crash Indicator
- Hours-of-Service Compliance
- Vehicle Maintenance
- Controlled Substances/Alcohol
- Hazardous Materials Compliance
- Driver Fitness
These are important, since understanding what compliance regulations you need to pay attention to (or improve) within each category can impact a carrier’s record in the Safety Measurement System (SMS).
Since compliance is essential to making sure your business is prepared in the event of an audit, also being aware of any local or state regulations based on your industry vertical is important as you grow.
Third party consulting firms like Scopelitus Transportation Consulting specialize in this type of knowledge, and are a great resource for guidance.
For more information related to compliance and the auditing process, check out the following webinars we hosted with the team at Scopelitus:
- All About DOT Audits: An Evolving Enforcement Tool
- Understanding the FMCSA’s Vehicle Maintenance BASIC to Stay Compliant
4. Add Efficiency to the Maintenance and Repair Process
If you have an in-house mechanic –or if you utilize external mechanics for repairs, one of the most frustrating things as an owner is not knowing the status of vehicles in your fleet that may be out of service.
Simply making sure detected faults get relayed to a mechanic in a timely fashion can be a challenge without an organized system in place.
Improving Communication Between Drivers, Mechanics, and Managers
Since relaying this data to the appropriate parties and keeping track of completed repairs is obviously important for efficiency, a solution like Whip Around can help close the communication loop between a driver submitting a fault, a manager scheduling repairs, and a mechanic being notified of a created work order.
Since gathering the required signatures and signoff between drivers and mechanics needed for compliance is also a concern for many motor carriers, relying on paper for both inspection and work orders just isn’t efficient.
Sooner or later, papers will get misplaced or not turned in, leading to delays.
Below is a short video on how these maintenance challenges can be improved with our software:
Instant Access to Information
Since the status of vehicles and assets is so important to scheduling and planning, giving instant dashboard-level access to owners and managers is something the Whip Around platform also provides.
“It no longer takes a day for the Maintenance department to get the paper DVIRs. It’s instant. Once the driver submits it on the app it goes directly over – it’s that easy! I can’t tell you the time and money that we are saving with this system.”
–Bill Plasky, Director of Transportation, Universal Scrap Metals
5. Master Vehicle Inspections and Maintenance with Whip Around
Getting into a routine of ensuring inspections are both completed correctly and accessible is easier said than done without software, especially if you are new to this process.
For beginners, it helps to start with a digital inspection process that allows you to begin collecting data you can then reference or easily refer to whenever you need it.
Why Whip Around?
Whip Around is the industry leading inspections and maintenance app used by thousands of organizations nationwide to digitize vehicle inspection forms, automate maintenance, and create peace of mind for owners.
Not only is the app super-easy for drivers to download and use each day, but it also gives managers and owners complete visibility over their entire fleet of vehicles and other assets in the platform.
Getting started is easy. Request a demo today and a product specialist will be happy to walk you through the app, and answer any questions you may have.