5 Tips For Successful Truck Fleet Management
One of the most complex parts of running a business is truck fleet management. Managers not only have to account for elements within their control, but they must also expect the unexpected at every turn.
From environmental conditions to customer timelines, teams must consider many elements before even setting out on the road. Once they’re off, it’s up to the manager to keep them up and running.
Even if your fleet is operating successfully, it’s always helpful to reflect on how to make the management process smoother and more effective. So start your engines and let’s dig in!
1. Find, Hire, and Keep Dependable Drivers
It goes without saying that solid employees boost a manager’s likelihood of success. The same is true with truck fleet management.
Yet, the most recent data from the American Trucking Association (ATA) shows that the trucking industry is short by almost 48,000 drivers.
Having a solid hiring and retention plan is key, here. The ATA report reveals that the main issue for the driver shortage isn’t a lack of interest or application. It’s lack of certification and qualification.
Being able to drive a truck isn’t enough, nor is a CDL license. Look for people with a reputable driving history and driving experience, who understand the ins and outs of the job.
Make your hiring requirements known from the onset, so there’s no confusion down the road (pun intended).
Once you’ve found the right person (or people) for the job, keep their satisfaction top of mind. Invest in the tools and equipment needed to ensure their comfort, safety, and efficiency while on the road.
For some companies, this might mean switching from manual logbooks to an automated digital system. In other cases, it might mean making the “office” more ergonomic for drivers through equipment designed to improve posture and ease joint pressure.
The latter is especially important, considering 40% of all truck drivers suffer from chronic back pain, a number that jumps to more than 65% for drivers with 10-15 years on the job.
The bottom line is this: In many ways, fleet truck driving is a niche market. If you can find and keep qualified and reliable drivers, you’re already one step closer to the finish line.
2. Anticipate The Unexpected
From unscheduled maintenance issues to weather delays, truck fleet management requires quick thinking and strategic decision-making.
Often, there will be circumstances beyond your control that will affect your fleet’s success. When this happens, the best remedy against downtime and breakdowns is to follow the old Boy Scout motto: Be Prepared.
Make sure your trucks undergo all routine, preventative maintenance procedures on time, every time. From regular oil and filter changes to horn tests and tire rotations, keep all truck parts serviced.
This practice will save time, money, and headache down the road. Create a truck fleet preventative maintenance plan with your team and make sure all drivers have access to a copy.
3. Embrace Truck Fleet Management Technology
Another aspect of truck fleet management is controlling costs. Trucks spent stuck in a traffic jam or braking every few feet in stop-and-go traffic aren’t making the company any money. In fact, they’re spending it.
Considering that fuel accounts for 34% of a fleet’s operating costs, it’s important to know how your team can make the most of its fill-up.
The good news is that advancements in technology make it easier than ever before to see exactly where your team is, what conditions they’re dealing with, and what they can expect at the next turn.
Telematics such as GPS tracking can show fleet managers where drivers are. Some tracking systems also provide insight into how fast drivers are going and when they’re idling, so managers can manage fuel costs.
Bottleneck at the next exit? Road construction in a few miles? Vehicle tracking technology can also alert managers to such conditions so they can re-route drivers before they’re stuck in the middle. These logistics and more are key to a smooth delivery.
4. Don’t Shy Away From (All) Risks
Dynamic truck fleet management starts with dynamic managers. To some degree, this includes taking chances on opportunities to grow your team, improve your offering, and build your customer satisfaction.
With so many tools available to improve visibility, reduce costs, and improve safety, comparing and contrasting the options can feel like a full-time job.
While it’s true that some trends may be a flash-in-the-pan, a bold manager is one that examines all risks, then makes the best decision for the team. Make every effort you can to avoid a negative outcome, but don’t be afraid to try out a strategy you believe in.
One investment you won’t have to think twice about: Buying the supplies you need to keep your drivers going.
5. Ensure Industry Compliance
There’s no quicker way to lower your credibility as a truck fleet manager than to lapse on your Compliance, Safety, and Accountability (CSA) efforts.
Maintaining CSA compliance is the #2 challenge that truck drivers face, right below Hours-of-Service (HOS). There are seven measures included under the CSA. These are known as Behavioral Analysis and Safety Improvement Categories (BASICs).
BASICs include standards around:
- Vehicle maintenance
- Unsafe driving
- Crash indicator
- HOS compliance
- Controlled substances/alcohol
- Driver fitness
- Hazardous materials
There are many administrative, back-end functions that are critical to keeping your fleet in business. From regulatory compliance measures to licensing requirements, staying on top of these measures in a timely fashion is of utmost importance.
Consider setting up a CSA calendar with all scheduled deliverables, and refer to it regularly to ensure you’ve got all the proper paperwork in place before the deadline hits.
Considerations such as these can help ensure against costly fees and unscheduled downtime, and help establish your fleet — and your company — as credible and responsible.
Whether you’re just taking the reins, or seasoned at truck fleet management, one thing is certain: There’s never been a better time to be behind the wheel.
Interested in learning more? Have any questions? Feel free to contact PEAK HD or send us a comment below. Let’s get rolling!