When one of your vehicles breaks down, you’ll find yourself wishing you had a plan for maintenance. Don’t let your fleet end up in that position. There are plenty of steps a fleet manager can take to be more proactive about fleet vehicle maintenance. You may not have the resources to oversee every part of the preventative maintenance initiative, especially if you’re running a smaller business. However, your drivers are an extremely valuable resource in this endeavor. After all, they use your vehicles every single day at their jobs, so they can play a major role in caring for the vehicles. Here are 4 steps you can take to utilize your drivers for fleet maintenance. By following them, you’ll find that your fleet is more prepared.
1. Make sure your drivers are aware when there’s a problem.
Your drivers may be intimately acquainted with the vehicles they drive for work, but that doesn’t mean they know everything about caring for those vehicles. There may be certain things that drivers believe their vehicles are “supposed” to do because they’ve “always done it”—even though those things are actually indicative of serious problems. Their personal vehicles may also have certain quirks that they’ve come to believe are normal. For instance, in some cars, brakes may make a squeaking noise that a mechanic determines is not a problem—but other times, squeaking means the brakes need to be replaced.
New drivers who aren’t fully acquainted with their vehicles may also not know what to look for and may not be able to easily identify problems. Therefore, it’s a good idea to create a checklist of common problems and establish that drivers should be on the lookout for them. If they are simple, drivers may be able to troubleshoot them on their own. Drivers should also be educated about how to take proper care of their vehicles to ensure that they will last longer.
2. Define a schedule for maintenance.
Instead of addressing problems when they occur, vehicles should be checked for problems at regular intervals. The fleet manager should enforce the maintenance schedule and make sure drivers are keeping up with it.
Certain tasks may need to be performed at certain mile intervals, such as oil changes every 3,000 to 5,000 miles. Other tasks might just involve checking the car every six months, like having the radiator inspected. How often a car or truck needs to be checked depends on the type of vehicle it is—for many vehicle maintenance processes, there is no standard.
3. Develop a system for drivers to report problems.
You need to implement a system that allows drivers to easily report problems. Otherwise, a driver might notice a problem but not report it to the person who could take appropriate action. Preferably, there would be one fleet manager who has a comprehensive view of the health of the vehicles. The reporting process can also be made easier for drivers if you create a standard form they can use and submit when they discover issues with their vehicles.
4. Listen to your drivers.
Once you’ve set a system in place for reporting problems, expect that your drivers will have feedback—and then listen to that feedback. Your drivers play a big role in maintenance, but so do you, and if you don’t take action when a driver has been telling you it’s necessary, then you’re the only one to blame. It’s important that you respond to requests in a timely fashion.
While it may take a little work to put a driver reporting system into place, you’ll be saving yourself a lot of time and money that would otherwise be spent on dealing with emergencies. The key here is to be proactive rather than reactive. Plan ahead, and you’ll find that you have happier customers, happier drivers, and healthier vehicles.
How can you improve your fleet by tracking vehicle data? Download the E-Guide on Using Vehicle Data to Improve Driver Performance.