Here are a few tips for a systematic approach to keep tabs on your fleet of trucks or commercial equipment and solve problems before they occur.
How do you keep tabs on your fleet?
If you manage twenty or more trucks or units of commercial equipment, you know how challenging it can be to effectively supervise the many moving parts of a complex enterprise. Without basic guidelines and sound expert advice, you’re likely to run into pain points as you navigate ever more complex technology and regulations. How do you keep track of maintenance and inspections to ensure smooth operations and DOT compliance? Do you use a whiteboard? A spreadsheet? Fleet management software? Equipment Experts Customer Portal?
Pros and Cons of Different Fleet Management Tools
Even if you have a robust method for tracking your equipment inventory, how do you update it? If you use a whiteboard then you know how hard it is to keep up to date once you have more than a handful of vehicles. Spreadsheets are a lot more organized but updating them is highly manual and difficult to control, especially when remote users get involved. You can buy fleet management software, but that will rack up expenses and require employee training time. And it might not be tailored enough to fit the needs of your organization.
Another approach entails leveraging proprietary software from a fleet service provider that is already servicing your fleet. For instance, we offer the Equipment Experts’ Customer Portal for managing your large fleet. It’s easy to navigate and update, transparent, detailed, intuitive to use, and it’s free!
Regardless of which tool you use, a systematic approach will help you avoid chaos and solve problems before they occur. Here are a few tips to keep tabs on your fleet.
Fleet Verification: Know what you’ve got—and what you’ve got to do
Fleet verification is a fundamental process for fleet managers. It includes the three steps described below that, once completed, will give you a dependable tool for preventing strains on productivity by supplying a clear, detailed picture of your equipment’s readiness at any given moment. Knowing where your fleet stands at this moment helps you keep on-budget by reducing the unexpected, including repair shop bills and DOT compliance issues. Keep your fleet healthy by addressing necessary equipment repairs on time. Let’s look at the three steps of the fleet verification process.
Step 1: Verify your vehicles
Verify your vehicles First, look at every piece of equipment to create a detailed, complete inventory and minimize opportunities for mistakes. If you don’t see something at your location, ask for a picture of it from a repair shop or another location. We recommend doing this activity with a partner so one person can look and the other can write, and because two heads are better than one. Visually verify and write down the following info:
VIN (Vehicle Identification number). Get it right, or you may end up doubling the equipment on your list because VIN was incorrect.
Class of truck/vehicle
DOT renewal dates
Anything else that needs servicing (PTOs, generators, liftgates, etc.)
Step 2: Organize your outfit
Now that you have seen and written down all your equipment, get smart about how you label it. Assign a code to each piece of equipment in a way that instantly gives detailed information about division, type, and unique identifiers. At Equipment Experts, we call them intelligent numbers—unique codes that are designed to be useful to drivers, fleet managers, and technicians; and that make sense for your unique organization.
Here is an example of how Equipment Experts uses intelligent numbers:
Step 3: Control your keys.
The final, er—key to successful fleet management is to setup an easy-to-follow fleet key control system to deal with the inevitability that vehicle keys will go missing or go home in someone’s pocket exactly when you need them. If this could happen in your organization—and it could happen in almost every organization—then consider using the ‘5-key program.’ It’s simple. Get five keys and color code them for drivers (x2), mechanic, dispatcher, and manager.
Equipment Experts is here to help
Equipment Experts has been recognized by Drive as ‘Masters of Shop Management.’ We are dedicated to developing effective strategies for smooth fleet management. In this blog series, we want to share the best practices we find most useful for fleet managers and owners. Coming up next: How DOT Compliance Defines Your Repair Strategy and Budgeting.
Let us hear from you! We’d love to know what best practices you use. Contact us to learn more about how Equipment Experts can help your fleet, we’re here to help. Call us (253) 527-7125 or Text us (253) 365-6591
You can also read our industry leading E-Book - A Step by Step Guide to Managing Your Fleet.