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Fleet Management - Tips for Running a Profitable Fleet

by simonhopes (writer), , July 19, 2016

Credit: Fleet Management
You have an in-house fleet or are the operator of a trucking company

Those companies that own and operate their own fleet of trucks are aware of the importance of keeping their vehicles in good working order and on the road.

The loss of just one truck due to maintenance or operator issues can significantly cut into your company’s profits. This is why every fleet should be managed and maintained well. Are you looking to run a profitable fleet? Here are some tips that will help.

Regular Safety Checks

When it comes to managing a fleet of trucks or commercial vehicles, it only takes one mishap to eat considerably into your profits. Also, there is no price that can be placed on human lives, so regular safety checks are a must. Yes, CDL drivers are taught to do routine checks before getting behind the wheel at the beginning (and sometimes within and at the end) of their shifts, but that is typically a visual check and incomplete at best.

Schedule Frequent Overhauls

Drivers also frequently check the fluids in the vehicles but those fluids need to be changed regularly and proper additives need to be kept in the proper solution. When you are looking at a six-figure vehicle the suggested level of high grade engine oil and coolants are an absolute must. The cost of replacing a blown engine is much greater than the cost of the repair. When compounded on the amount of down time, that is a sizeable loss for any business to sustain. If your fleet's cash flow doesn't allow timely maintenance, there are freight bill factoring services that can provide immediate funding for your company

Optimize Time Concerns

While you may have that occasional customer that insists on a delivery or pickup at a very specific time, most will work with you on scheduling. If you have, for example, two businesses in the same city or the same state and you are driving cross country to deliver one load and a few days later pick up another coming back, it would be in your company’s best interest to optimize timing those services. Most businesses will work with you since they also need to make a profit and understand well the amount of money lost with down time or needless trips. It might be possible to schedule the delivery a day later and then pick up a day earlier, meaning the truck and your driver would have little downtime, saving money for your company.

Reduce and/or Eliminate Empty Miles

Speaking of bringing a load one way and picking up for a load back, it is imperative to eliminate empty miles. Whenever possible, look for gigs that will fill those empty miles. The cost of running that rig without cargo can run into thousands of dollars, considering the fact that one fill-up can cost $1k. If you are looking to maximize profits, make every mile count. Even a layover for your driver is cheaper than bringing that rig back empty. Do the math! With the cost of fuel and the wear and tear on the rig when running needless miles, it is cheaper to pay your driver to sit and do nothing than it is to bring the vehicle back empty!

One suggestion would be that the driver could spend his or her time canvasing the area for possible loads back the other way. If this is a routine trip with one leg of the trip empty, that driver just might find a company that needs loads brought back your way regularly or small side jobs in the area while waiting for the next gig a state or two down the road.

Wait Time & Idle Time Are Huge Drains on Your Bottom Line

Getting back to the high cost of fuel, one thing you should always insist of your drivers is that the engine shouldn’t be running idle for extended periods of time. When stopping for coffee, a quick meal or even to run into the restroom, that rig should be shut down. Every minute that rig idles is money out of your pocket. Certain parameters should be set. For example, if the wait is expected to be more than five minutes, the truck is turned off. Yes, there will be those times when an unexpected delay causes the driver to sit there an inordinate amount of time, but any experienced driver can quickly assess the situation in order to estimate how long a wait he or she will encounter.

Whether you have an in-house fleet or are the operator of a trucking company, it is essential to continually review fleet management. Every dollar lost to inefficient fleet management is a dollar lost from your bottom line. These tips are just a start and why you should regularly re-evaluate ways to operate your fleet smoother and more efficiently. If you’ve overlooked this link in the profitability chain, don’t let it be the weak link any longer. A well-managed fleet is a profitable fleet and that’s the bottom line.



About the Writer

simonhopes is a writer for BrooWaha. For more information, visit the writer's website.
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