Given the economic uncertainty driven by the Covid-19 pandemic, these are incredibly stressful times for fleet owners and managers. We did a quick survey of accomplished fleet managers and summarized their advice into the following three recommendations:
The only good time to start preparing was yesterday. Unfortunately, many fleets operate in a “reactive” mindset. Due to improper record keeping including poor communications and follow up, these fleets are constantly reacting to one incident or another. This leaves no time for preparation. However given the economic climate, preparing now is no longer a choice. Your fleet plan should include understanding changes to utilization, open maintenance needs, and budgeting accordingly. A good plan will reduce unwanted surprises as you will know which assets to keep and which to dispose should the need arise. Most importantly, having a plan will let you organize, and pivot accordingly should the economic outlook change. We covered some tips on what you can do to prepare in an earlier blog.
Know your unit cost
A critical part of the preparing is understanding the unit cost record. This is a tool that all leading fleet companies know inside out. When your business is depending on a piece of equipment to enable your labor revenues, it is important to know what that piece of equipment is costing you. Typically, this means not only having some sort of vehicle tracking but also document management. Knowing the unit cost record not only means that you are on top of your equipment management and maintenance, it also allows you to track spending. This way you can pull the plug (literally) on a piece of equipment that is bleeding your profit away.
Make the investments
Finally, as you identify gaps in your current fleet it is important to make the investments now. We all feel skittish given the economic uncertainty but once you have completed the plan, you have completed a risk-return analysis. You know not only where you need to make the investment but also the why. Which means that you can now be more confident in how you make those investments. Investing in a comprehensive fleet management system, more than just GPS tracking, is critical. Make sure that any system you look at is a “business friendly” solution. It should give you visibility into your fleet needs, and control on your spending. Smarter companies will use this opportunity to get the right tools in place to ensure that their business comes out stronger when the recovery starts.
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