Is your fleet ready to grow?
Trying to scale a small fleet successfully without being fully prepared is a recipe for disaster. The good news is that it’s a lot easier to prepare your fleet to grow, and maintain that growth than you might think.
You certainly have to spend money to make money, but the key is to know how to spend your money effectively.
Let’s dive a little deeper into how you can make a smart investment in your fleet to make sure you see the biggest payoffs down the road.
Challenges facing small fleets
There are many challenges today to trying to expand and grow your fleet. Whether you operate a fleet of trucks and trailers for hauling things long-distance, or you manage a fleet of work trucks and vehicles, as your organization grows, your fleet will need to grow with it.
Before you can begin to think about growing your fleet, you need to understand where your operations are at now. Many fleet managers know that they’re barely keeping things going and their vehicles on the road as it is and can’t even imagine what it would be like to add more vehicles to the mix.
One of the most common struggles fleet managers and operators face is simply keeping up with their maintenance. Many fleet managers will run their vehicles as long as they can until something breaks or fails inspection and they’re forced to repair it. Then, they rely on paper work orders or spreadsheets to try to keep track of everything.
The truth is that in the long run, this ends up costing you more than necessary because it’s simply inefficient. Not only are you forced to keep track of massive amounts of paper, but you must hope that none of your technicians or operators made a mistake when writing the work order or updating the spreadsheet. And if someone ever emails out that spreadsheet to someone else, the one that was emailed out is now the new source of truth and not the one on your computer, thus opening a whole new trail of files you must track down to make sure all the information is correct.
Ultimately, all these inefficiencies lead to your maintenance costs ballooning out of control with you simply trying to fight for every dollar to keep your vehicles on the road. Before you can truly begin to grow your fleet, you need to set your current fleet up for success.
How to prepare your fleet for growth
If you’re at the point where you’re ready to add more vehicles to your fleet, there are some things you’ll need to look at to make sure the growth is successful and sustainable.
Regulations are constantly changing in every industry and before you begin adding vehicles to your fleet, you need to make sure you’re up to date on all the latest requirements and regulations for your vehicles. Most importantly, look at how these regulations will impact your budget. Will you need to immediately perform upgrades on your vehicles after you get them to stay in compliance? What are the potential fines for failing audits, and can you afford them?
Much like with regulations, technology is constantly changing and evolving the way the world does business. The same is true for managing fleet vehicles. If you’re managing a small fleet using paper and spreadsheets to track your operations, that may work for now, but as you add more vehicles, those methods quickly become complicated, time-consuming, and error-prone which will quickly put you far behind where you need to be to grow your business.
Modern technology like fleet management software is vital to successfully grow and maintain your business. This software can help you keep better track of your maintenance and fleet operations, gather a wide range of vital data on your operations, and help you analyze that data to make smart business decisions.
3. Track costs
You’ve heard the adage: “You have to spend money to make money,” and that applies to growing your business too. But before you can spend more money, you have to know what you’re already spending. If you were to ask most small fleet operators if they have a firm understanding of where every one of their dollars is being spent, most of them (if they were being honest) would probably say they don’t. They might have a general idea, but they most likely won't have a firm grasp on where their money is going every month.
While having a general idea of your finances and budget may work for small fleets of just a few vehicles, if you’re looking to add even just a few more, getting a firm grasp of your budget is vital to growing successfully. If you don’t, chances are that very quickly you’ll start to see your costs rising and you won’t be able to get ahead of them.
Successful businesses of any kind, fleets included, must have a firm grasp on their budgets to make sure they aren’t spending beyond their means, but also so they can adequately plan for continued growth in the future.
Benefits of fleet management software
We already discovered that one of the best ways to prepare your fleet for growth is to take advantage of fleet management software to help with your daily operations.
Some of the biggest practical benefits of fleet management software are:
- Standardized operations
- Controlling costs
- Improving uptime
- Tracking operations
Improve your team’s efficiency by standardizing your operations
One of the biggest challenges of running a small business or operation is that if you’re using outdated methods to run things, like paper and spreadsheets, you can quickly end up with everyone on your team settling into their own way of doing things which results in multiple different processes for accomplishing the same things.
In order to grow successfully and continue to scale your organization in the future, you need to have a standard base of operations to streamline processes and eliminate errors and inefficiencies. Fleet management software is one of the best and most efficient ways to do this.
With this software in place, you can create custom templates for your work orders so you can have documented workflows for routine tasks. That way your technicians can all work from the same procedures and as you bring on new technicians to handle your growing fleet, you can get them trained and, on the job, faster.
All your work orders are stored in the program so you can go back and evaluate your team’s performance and spot opportunities for improvement. If one of your technicians finds a quicker or better way to do things, you can document that for all similar work orders in the future.
There’s also the practical aspect of making your team faster and more efficient. With hand-written work orders, your team has to come back to the office between each job or at the end of the day and all those completed work orders end up crowding your desk and filing cabinets. And that’s if they all make it back to your office anyway. Have you ever lost any work orders because they got buried in a toolbox or lost somewhere on the way back to your office?
Fleet management software also helps get your team on the same page by combining all your data into one centralized source of truth. That means that whenever anyone on your team needs to find information on your vehicles, from inspection reports to available parts inventory, all your information is always up to date. No more emailing back and forth and making sure you have the latest version spreadsheet. All your information is always up to date the moment you log in to the system.
Know your costs and keep them under control
The best fleet management software helps you gain in-depth visibility into your costs across your fleet operations. You can see exactly where your costs are going and what areas of your operations are costing you more than they should.
Take inventory, for example. For most companies, about 90% of their inventory is not used in a given year. That’s a lot of parts sitting in your stock room that you don’t need to pay for or hold on to. Without fleet management software, it would be hard to know what parts you aren’t using regularly that you could store with your supplier.
The same idea applies to your maintenance operations. You might be spending a lot more on maintenance than you need to due to some inefficient processes, but it would be hard to know that without being able to track your operations. With fleet management software, you can see where one of your technicians might benefit from some extra training, or you could discover places where you could contract the work out more cheaply than you can do it in-house.
Improve the uptime of your vehicles and equipment
Keeping your vehicles on the road is one of the biggest challenges facing any fleet manager. The longer your vehicles are on the road, the more profit you’re bringing in. Fleet management software can help you develop a robust preventive maintenance program to anticipate when your vehicles will need repairs and make fixes before they fail.
You can track the mileage and usage of your vehicles over time and based on predetermined metrics from the vehicle manufacturer or advice from your more senior technicians, you can have the software automatically generate and assign work orders to your techs to make sure the work gets done on time.
For example, things like changing the oil. You know you’ll need to change it every 5,000 miles and you can set the program to generate a work order to change the oil on that vehicle every 4,800 miles. When it’s time for an oil change, the technician will be assigned the work order, they can scan a QR code on the vehicle to pull up any information they need including the parts allocated for it, change the oil, and closeout out the job all from within one software program.
This same preventive maintenance workflow can be applied to every vehicle in your fleet so you know when critical maintenance needs to happen before vehicles fail and can make repairs ahead of time to keep your vehicles on the road.
Track, store, and access inspection reports easily
Inspections are a way of life for fleet operators and managers. Whether it's your DVIRs or other required inspections, you need an easy and reliable way for your team to perform their inspections, store them, and access them quickly.
Fleet management software like ManagerPlus has mobile applications that can be downloaded to any smartphone or tablet that lets your drivers and operators perform their DVIRs and any other inspections from wherever they are.
And because the software lives in the cloud, the completed inspection reports are instantly available and accessible from anywhere. You don’t have to wait for someone to email you. You can quickly check the status of inspections and access them when it’s audit time so you can prove you’re in compliance and avoid costly fines.
All of that is true about every aspect of your maintenance and management operations. Every piece of information you generate and gather on your vehicles is stored forever and available instantly. And with ManagerPlus, you’re technicians have a mobile app as well that lets them scan QR codes on your vehicles to access the relevant work orders and get the job done fast.
Recruit and retain quality operators
This is a benefit of fleet management software that you might not think about too often. Many fleet companies, especially smaller ones with fewer resources, have trouble finding and retaining quality drivers.
If you make the investment in robust fleet management software like ManagerPlus that helps to make driver’s jobs easier, that can give you an edge when it comes to recruiting operators and drivers. Especially among the younger generation. As more Millennials and Gen Z’s enter the workforce, they’ll be looking for companies who take advantage of the latest technology to make their jobs easier.
It also shows drivers that you’re invested in their success and committed to their safety. When they know you’re using fleet management software to keep their vehicles running and keep them safe on the road, they’re much more likely to want to join your team.
Get started with fleet management software
If you’re ready to start preparing your fleet to grow, getting started with ManagerPlus fleet management software is easy. The best way is to schedule a free, personalized, one-on-one demo with one of our experts to see firsthand how it can help you streamline your fleet operations.
It takes a lot of work to successfully grow a small fleet, and one of the easiest ways to fail is to not be prepared for it. Adopting fleet management software for your vehicles can help prepare your fleet for growth by helping you:
- Standardize operations
- Control costs
- Improve uptime
- Track operations
- Recruit and retain quality drivers
Getting started with fleet management software is easier than you might think, and affordable enough to make the investment worth it, no matter what size fleet you have. Reach out to our experts today to learn more.
About the author
Jason is a storyteller at heart with a career spanning everything from film and TV to iPhones. Just don't expect much before his first cup of coffee.