As we enter the spring season, many companies are gearing up for peak customer demand. But as business owners and fleet managers start preparing their employees and internal operations to withstand the increased volume of business, it’s imperative they do the same with their fleets.
While many companies are relying on the upcoming peak season to offset some of the negative business implications the coronavirus pandemic caused over the last year, it is critical this year for managers to properly service their vehicles to ensure that no dead battery, shredded tire, or faulty system has the potential to cause any delays that could impact the company’s ability to conduct business.
Today, vehicle service intervals are greater and the maintenance they require is less than in years past, but managers should still monitor core items like belts and hoses, brakes, tires, batteries, and wiper blades to keep employees safe while on the road, especially in hot regions like the south and southwest. While some companies do this in-house, for businesses located in particularly warm climates, fleet managers should consider taking the extra step of having the vehicle inspected by a professional technician to ensure the vehicle is safe and will get the company through the peak season.
One concern is the increasing trend of drivers and operators taking their trucks to quick-stop oil change shops for an oil change and tire pressure check. While these facilities are convenient, they aren’t always able to complete a thorough check of brakes, hoses, belts, cables, and other important components. It’s important to monitor these parts as a shift in weather can have an impact of varying severity, especially after a particularly cold winter.
Fleet managers should always refer to the vehicle's owner’s manual for specific guidance and suggested maintenance intervals. Additionally, to take some of the burden off small business owners and fleet managers who are busier than ever, owners should consider implementing a fleet maintenance program like those offered by The Bancorp, designed to create efficiencies in administrative processes by providing guidance so that servicing and replacing fleets can remain a top priority.
A great way to prepare for peak season is to ensure the company’s fleet is not only on a cyclical maintenance schedule but also a proper replacement schedule. Cycling vehicles is an effective way to manage repair costs, since replacing vehicles using industry standards can help companies avoid major repairs like transmission and engine overhauls.
Typically, companies with larger fleets who stay on top of their fleet cycling replace their vehicles in the fall and spring. But as a result of high demand, production delays caused by the pandemic and a global computer chip shortage, the current supply of many vehicles is very limited. This means business owners and fleet managers need to make plans now to get their new vehicles if they haven’t already; otherwise, they’ll likely need to stick with their current fleet until the 2022 models arrive later in the year.
Using a structured, staggered replacement schedule helps. By staggering their approach, fleet managers can replace their vehicles on a rolling basis, softening the financial impact on the company’s budget and bottom line. It’s extremely rare that a business would replace an entire fleet at once, so most companies already leverage a cyclical, staggered approach. Keep in mind that a good fleet management partner can help plan a proper replacement cycle to keep both vehicle acquisition and maintenance costs at a minimum.