There are many different ways to run a business fleet and each team is unique. Whether you manage a fleet of caterers, town car drivers, or appliance repair technicians, they all share a few key things in common. They all treat the vehicle itself like a workplace, rely on good maintenance and planning to make the job happen, and efficiency can make or break a service.
This means that while performance is based on team dedication and skill, every fleet manager has an incredible amount of influence on the success of the service overall.
Many fleet managers are challenged to improve service efficiency but feel that they have a limited number of tools with which to do so.
Today, we're here to tell you that you're not as limited as you think you are. Get creative with your fleet management and start implementing a few clever policies your drivers will appreciate, even if they don't realize it at first.
1) Rotational Inspections
Every driver has their own style, quirks, and (let's face it) state they tend to leave their vehicle in. Most fleet managers know at least one driver who is a font of food trash and debris, another who somehow always makes it into the garage on gas fumes alone.
Some seem to have a knack for mud puddles and, occasionally, you get a "ghost" who seems to leave no impression on their vehicles at all. The problem is that your drivers and teams get used to how they do things and may be frequently missing the same few inspection and vehicle-care points over and over again.
How do you break them out of the rut and get your team to pick up after themselves more efficiently? Rotational inspections!
Rather than making your drivers only tend their own vehicles, build a rotational schedule so that each must inspect, clean, and prepare everyone else's vehicles and, eventually, get back to their own. After cleaning up after each other's quirks, it will be easier to see things that they have been neglecting.
2) Smart Reward Programs
Driver reward programs are not always smart, especially if they are passed down from "on high". In other words, rewards designed by an exec who has never managed a fleet of vehicles and drivers often miss their mark. Break room perks?
Not so useful if your team spends all their time on the road. Company T-shirts? What good is that when there is a required uniform.
While you don't have to defy orders and eliminate the less-than-helpful rewards, nothing is stopping you from building a better reward system over the top. Think about what you really want to reward drivers for, like efficient fueling, not scraping the bumper on curbs, and clever re-routing around traffic condition.
Then build rewards that your drivers actually want like memory-foam seat cushions, better stereos, or schedule preference.
3) Make Changes to Shake Up Routines
Sometimes improving efficiency isn't about fixing problems, simply finding better ways to do what you are already doing well. While the old adage "If it ain't broke, don't fix it" might apply in some cases, fleet management is not necessarily one of them.
Doing the same job day in and day out can put anyone into a rut so that you and your teams stop innovating in favor of the routine. But with the same old routine, your stats will plateau and efficiency increases will slow to a crawl.
To make more improvements possible, try making a few arbitrary but really noticeable changes. It may sound silly, but simply inspiring your team to think differently or solve an unexpected puzzle every few weeks will also have them thinking more creatively on the job.
Rearrange the HQ furniture, put up vibrant new wall decor, or re-arrange the structure of your weekly meetings, just to name a few things to try.
4) Team Brainstorming Sessions
Finally, don't underestimate the ideas of your drivers themselves, and your teams if you have any. They are the ones out there, rubber to the road, every day and you can bet that they have a few ideas about how to improve the service.
Usually, these things are discussed in grumbles and musings to each other, out of earshot of management and without any expectation of change. And this is a darn shame.
The ideas of your team are valuable. Over the last few months or years of working for you, they have probably thought of half a dozen things that could improve efficiency. From better routing methods to better ways to kit out the vehicles.
Hold the occasional brainstorming meeting and encourage your team to share these ideas. Between meetings, tell them to write down anything they think could improve the service. Not every idea will be workable, but it will make your team feel heard and there will be at least a few gems that can be used to improve your service significantly.
For more great tips, tricks, and fleet management advice, contact us today!