April 29, 2022
Effective fleet management is essential to keep the costs low, the vehicles safe and drivers happy.
We’ve worked in the fleet management industry for nearly 20 years so we have a wealth of experience on what to do and what not to do in order to run a successful fleet. This is why we’ve put together this article on some of the easiest, and most common, mistakes that fleet managers can make and how to avoid them in your business.
1. Not Being Proactive
One of the biggest mistakes we see with new fleet management teams or those who are struggling to effectively manage their fleet is that they are not being proactive in arranging necessary work such as MOTs and annual services. This work is usually required annually or can be predicted based on previous mileage and so actively scheduled in advance to ensure that it is done before the due date, and avoid having vehicles off the road due to delays in mechanic availability.
There are other admin tasks such as taxing the vehicle and renewing the vehicle insurance (depending on your insurance policy) that are annual tasks and can be planned for in a similar way. Some companies will wait until they get reminders that these things need to be actioned which can be risky as the notification might not always be sent, reach the right department or looked at in time.
How to Avoid Delays Due to Schedulable Work
For things like the MOT and tax on your vehicles we recommend using a calendar or scheduling system and making sure that these dates are accurately entered with a reminder a week or so beforehand so that you can schedule the necessary work or process in advance.
2. Under or Over Using Vehicles
Some companies will have fleet vehicles that are not assigned to individual drivers but rather are pool vehicles that drivers can drive as needed. In order for this to be an effective fleet for your business though you need to ensure that no one vehicle is over or under used by drivers.
Overuse can reduce the resale value if it is a company owned asset, cause the vehicle to need more maintenance work than would otherwise be required and also become a safety concern if the additional wear is not looked at promptly. Whereas underuse can cause maintenance issues due to infrequent use, such as seized brakes, lead to driver unfamiliarity with particular models and is an underused asset that your business is paying for in one way or another.
How to Avoid Not Using Your Vehicles Enough or Too Much
We recommend that if you do have pool vehicles that you source models of similar prestige and spec so that there is no preferred model because it’s got additional extras, such as heated seats, as this reduces the risk of drivers preferring to drive a specific model and it potentially being overused.
You should take a look at your fleet and the current pool cars and whether the number is correct for you. Some companies are finding that with the post-Covid hybrid home working model and rise of virtual meetings their employees are not needing to drive as much as they were a couple of years ago while others are finding that as more people return to the office and face to face meetings following the lifting of lockdowns means that the vehicles they no longer have are needed again. We recommend even if you do not usually re-evaluate your fleet regularly that you do so now and continue to do so as your company establishes a new working normal.
Additionally, you should make sure that if you have multiple sites the appropriate number of vehicles are at each site rather than evenly distributing them as this prevents sites where there is less need having vehicles sitting unused and sites with higher need having a vehicle shortage.
3. Not Enforcing Fleet Policy
Having a clear and easy to understand fleet policy is essential for all involved, drivers and management alike, so that everyone understands their responsibilities and acts accordingly. Additionally, if fleet managers do not understand the policy they cannot enforce it correctly which is vital to ensuring driver and vehicle safety.
Failing to adhere to policy can lead to vehicles being unmaintained and not repaired as needed, drivers using unsafe equipment or having unsafe behaviour and habits that could be a risk to them, the business and other road users.
How to Avoid Having an Unenforced Fleet Policy
Make sure that your policy is easy to understand for all users, and that they have the opportunity to ask any questions they may have when first joining the business. You should also continue to have a contactable fleet management team who they can go to with further questions during their time with the business.
We also advise checking your policy annually and updating it as needed and then requiring your employees to confirm they have read this and understand their obligations.
4. Not Making Drivers Accountable
One of the biggest issues we see when clients approach us for fleet management is that the fleet vehicle drivers feel little responsibility for the vehicle they are driving and so do not treat it in the same way they would a personal vehicle. This lack of accountability often leads to drivers not being as aware of damage or problems, less likely to report these issues when they do spot them and making driving mistakes or user errors they wouldn’t with their personal car.
How to Avoid Drivers Not Being Accountable
One thing that we encourage all our fleet customers to do is to have drivers complete a monthly vehicle check and having this as part of the agreement they sign when taking on a company vehicle.
These checks can be as short or as detailed as you would like them to be but we tend to land somewhere in the middle, asking drivers to do a detailed check of the vehicle and confirm that there has been no change in their own circumstances that they need to notify us of, such as a driving offence or health condition that affect their eligibility to drive.
Additionally where possible assigning a particular vehicle to individual drivers or a specific team where possible will help encourage them to have a sense of responsibility for that vehicle as it feels more theirs than a pool vehicle.
5. Not Making Sure Drivers Have Enough Training and Support
Another mistake that companies can make fairly easily is not making sure their drivers receive adequate training and continued support.
You can see why a company that offers their employees company cars as a perk or via salary sacrifices and do not require them to do much driving, other than to meetings, that some initial training or support information when they take the vehicle is adequate. However, this is not always the case and often times drivers might wish they had more training or long term support.
How to Avoid Not Giving Drivers Adequate Training
We recommend making sure that each of your drivers has an initial assessment and training plan based on this when they first drive a company vehicle. Then you regularly check in with them to make sure they have no areas of concern or need additional training at least annually or if a problem is flagged such as getting points on their licence when you complete driving licence checks.