Managing a fleet of vehicles well is a tough, stressful responsibility. It’s easy to make mistakes when doing so, especially if you’re fairly new to the job or the number of vehicles and drivers to manage has recently become overwhelming. To help avoid making too many errors going forward, here are 5 key mistakes to look out for when managing a fleet.
1. Overpaying for Fleet Insurance
Fleet insurance is a specialist area of the insurance market. Not every insurer offers it and out of those that do, sometimes it’s an extra type that they don’t pay much mind to. Subsequently, these insurers don’t always offer a great deal with premiums.
Also, if the company has recently needed to majorly expand the fleet beyond its original size, the premiums may have increased alarmingly and become uncompetitive compared to what’s available in the UK commercial insurance market.
With fleet insurance, it pays to look around to see what’s available. The larger the fleet, or the more unusual activities that are required of the vehicles, the greater the need to discuss it with a representative that can find a reasonable quote. Quotezone.co.uk can locate multiple insurers with competitive premiums on fleet policies. This can be a considerable cost saving if your insurance costs have recently gone out of whack as the fleet grew in size.
2. Planning Routes Badly
Route planning is important for fleet managers but it becomes increasingly obvious when it’s not utilised across a larger fleet. When this happens, drivers getting lost or delayed will become obvious and repetitive when it’s a weak spot and the roster of drivers is growing rapidly too.
Use software to plan the best routes for every journey, and to reroute drivers that run into unexpected roadworks and road accidents causing a temporary road closure. Also, implement reliable vehicle tracking linked to the tracking software to known where all drivers are at any given time.
With route tracking, it’s possible to identify when a driver is either off route or behind schedule. Then changes can be made, or the customer notified, so everyone is kept informed.
3. Failing to Fix Ineffective Communication
Drivers are sometimes less than forthcoming with important details but may be vocal about complaints. Others just don’t seem to open up about anything. For the fleet manager, this makes life more difficult because it’s harder to know when something is wrong ahead of time.
Creating a more open line of communication with every driver is necessary to stay current with what’s happening. While the fleet manager doesn’t need to try to be everyone’s friend, requiring every driver to be professional and reasonably communicative is necessary to support the fleet operation.
Manage individual meetings with drivers, whether that’s in person or a Zoom meeting. Use group chats to update the team for general notifications that everyone needs to be aware of.
4. Making Poor Hiring Decisions
When drivers are leaving and it’s necessary to fill their position quickly, it can lead to poor hiring decisions that come back to bite you. If you look at the problem employees that you currently have, how many did not fit the hiring criteria or you were worried about them from the start? If the answer is, ‘quite a few’, then that’s a strong indication you’re making hiring mistakes.
Accept that sometimes it’ll be necessary to manage with a smaller team temporarily or to use short-term drivers to fill in. Either solution will allow for the proper selection of better candidates, shortlisting, and then final selection in an unhurried manner. In the long run, that will save more money than it costs.
5. Accepting Regular Excuses from the Same Drivers
While turning up late for a shift occasionally with a reasonable excuse might be fine, an ongoing issue with tardiness is not. Even while making an effort to be personable and friendly with the fleet team, it’s necessary to draw a hard line when standards are slipping.
Allowing a driver to get away with something leads to additional issues later, but it also affects others. When another driver sees a colleague is being let off, they might respect the management less and be quite irritated. Other drivers will feel like they should be able to get away with it too and will point to the first driver in their defence later when copying them.
Find the right balance between being understanding and being fair. The business needs to run relatively smoothly, and every driver contributes to that. Set the standards you want and maintain them.
For a fleet manager, avoiding common mistakes means the day runs more smoothly. Sometimes, it might even go without incident, though for a fleet manager, that’s rarely going to be the case. Life happens and it’s how you deal with it that matters. At least, with fewer obvious blunders, there’s enough available personal bandwidth to handle the problems that inevitably crop up.