By Robert J. Hall
If your small business relies on company vehicles, this is probably one of the single biggest investments you’ve made in your company. That’s why finding ways to make them last longer and work more efficiently is vital. There’s nothing worse than having workers out on a job find their truck isn’t working or the “check engine” light has come on. This can mean cancellations on jobs and delayed service for your customers.
So what are the secrets for taking care of your service vehicles year after year? What steps might you take to make your cars or trucks function better? To help answer these questions, here’s a look at five specific tips for extending the life of your company’s vehicles. To make the most of your investment in transportation, this is what you or your staff members need to do:
1. Create regular maintenance schedules: Forget what the mechanic tells you and stick to what your manufacturer’s guidelines stipulate. Better yet, use fleet tracking software to make sure you’re getting appropriate maintenance when it’s needed. The company that made your vehicle is the company best suited to know how to take care of it, so look up the recommended oil changes, parts checkups, etc., and program them into your tracking device reminders. If you have a large fleet of vehicles, implement a company-wide policy of adhering to these maintenance guidelines to protect your cars and trucks.
2. Track your miles: Wasting time on jobs is more than an inefficient use of manpower — it’s also an inefficient use of your fleet. Prevent missed appointments, complicated routes, and workers getting lost en route to a job by monitoring your vehicles with GPS fleet management software. Easy to install and use, GPS tracking will give you real-time data on your drivers, your drivers better routing to jobs, and your company a clearer sense of what’s going on day to day. This can help you track your cars or trucks as well as your personnel for greater efficiency and profits.
3. Take warning signs seriously: A “check engine” light should never be ignored. Odd noises are worth investigating. Train your team members to take any and all potential warning signs seriously so small issues don’t get the chance to develop into more costly repairs.
4. Keep track of all jobs: Another thing that fleet tracking software can help you with is tracking all work that is performed. You need to know which employees are at which jobs and when — and you need to know how much work is occurring on a given day. This information gives you an idea of the wear and tear your vehicles are absorbing. Are they going to a dozen or more jobs each day, or are they frequently being driven to non-job-related destinations?
5. Park in or under cover when possible: From hail to sun damage, all kinds of weather affects your vehicles. To protect your cars and trucks against unwanted corrosion, try to keep vehicles parked in garages or under cover whenever possible. While there are times, particularly out on the field, when your cars won’t be able to be protected, the more you can make that extra effort to shield your vehicles, the more you’ll protect their exteriors.
Whether you have two trucks or a dozen service vehicles, making the most of your investment means knowing how to take care of your fleet. Use the tips above as a good starting place for how to care for your company vehicles, and take the time to train your drivers so that they know how to implement the maintenance plan you want to enforce. While caring for your vehicles takes some extra time and energy, the investment can pay off big — when your cars and trucks last longer, need less expensive repairs, and don’t have to be replaced every few years.
Robert J. Hall is president of Track Your Truck, a leader in GPS vehicle tracking systems that helps small businesses get the most out of their vehicles.