There are a million reasons why your business might need a fleet of vehicles to run operations smoothly. A construction company uses a fleet of trucks to move supplies, materials, and tools to and from job sites. Event rental companies may use a few sprinters or moving trucks for deliveries and installs. Or a team of city employees might invest in vehicles to help different employees conduct official business about town.
No matter why your company decides to invest in a commercial fleet, one thing is certain: managing a fleet of vehicles is a lot of responsibility and comes with challenges. This article will explore the ins and outs of commercial fleet management, helping your company understand the best practices bound to protect your investments and keep your cars on the road longer.
Here are six tips and tricks to managing a fleet of vehicles:
1. Choose the right fleet
Every business is unique, and every company has its own nuanced needs. Same goes for selecting a commercial fleet. Things like fuel prices, access to electric vehicle charging stations, space and budget constraints, climate, traffic conditions, and the distance your employees need to drive will dictate the size and specifications of your commercial fleet.
For example, florists, mobile pet groomers, and cleaning companies may invest in a few vans. But a currier, delivery service, or taxi cab operator may be purchasing hundreds of vehicles. No matter what your needs are, the first step to properly managing a fleet is ensuring you’re investing your company’s cash in the right vehicles. Ones that will actually streamline your company’s operations and help it grow more profitable in the long run.
Once you’ve selected the appropriate vehicles for your business, you’ll need to decide how to pay for them. You can lease them, buy them outright, finance them, or even take out a business loan to pay cash for them. There are often discounts on fleet vehicles, so you should make sure you are working with the right person at the right dealership to unlock those savings.
Keep in mind that financing or leasing might be more expensive in the long run, but can protect your cash flow—an option that can be quite attractive and smart for newer businesses that need to minimize cash burn.
2. Train your employees
Once your fleet arrives, you’ll need to ensure your employees are prepared to both drive these vehicles and properly manage the fleet of trucks or cars. This will look a bit different for every business.
Larger, more commercial operations will need to ensure drivers have not only valid driver’s licenses, but the appropriate ones to operate larger trucks—or even machinery. You’ll also want to verify these employees have good driving experience, a clean record, and have even passed drug and alcohol screens, if that’s permissible where you conduct business.
For smaller businesses asking employees to simply drive sprinters or cars around town, a regular driver’s license should suffice, although you’ll still want to conduct due diligence.
This is also the time to consider the safety of your drivers, especially if you’re asking them to spend a lot of time on the road. Have a plan to build in rest, and talk to your human resources team about creating reasonable, safe work expectations for all employees.
3. Get the right insurance
Fleet insurance is different from regular car insurance—and you’ll need to ensure each vehicle in your commercial fleet is properly protected. Typically, fleet auto insurance covers:
- Other vehicles and drivers affected by a car accident
Keep in mind that most fleet insurance will not cover the contents of your vehicle. If you’re a florist, that’s likely a risk you’re willing to take. But if you’re moving around precious cargo—think: expensive construction materials, high-value medical equipment—you’ll want to consider an additional insurance policy. Talk to your insurance agent about investing in an additional liability policy that can cover what’s inside your vehicles in the event of an emergency.
4. Inventory your fleet
Wondering how to manage a fleet of vehicles? One key step is keeping an accurate, detailed inventory list of all the cars and trucks your business owns. You can do this using a sheet of paper, an inventory spreadsheet, or an inventory app.
Whether you have five cars or fifty, your fleet inventory list should articulate exactly what cars your company owns or leases, where they’re located, and every other key detail about them, from VIN number to how many miles are on the vehicle.
This list will help you keep better records, speed up inventory and asset audits, perform accounting-related tasks faster, and help you with the everyday logistics of running your business.
5. Keep a maintenance calendar
It’s no secret that cars and trucks need maintenance to run smoothly. No matter how you manage your inventory of cars, you’ll want to sit down and carve out a maintenance calendar to keep your investments running in tip-top shape.
You can use a sheet of paper to do this, or a shared calendar. Or, you can use an inventory app to keep track of these dates, recording past maintenance and setting alerts for events like oil changes and 10,000 mile tune ups.
There are tons of benefits to prioritizing preventive and scheduled maintenance, including prolonging the useful life of your assets, so don’t skimp on this step. Find a system that works for you, keep diligent records, and don’t delay on important service appointments.
6. Maintain accurate records
From mandatory recall services to oil changes to fender-benders, you’ll want to keep track of what happens to your company’s vehicles with great detail. Find a system—whether that’s a Google Doc, a spreadsheet, or the notes section or a custom column of your inventory app—to record these events.
If you’re using an inventory app, you can also upload items like service receipts, smog checks, vehicle registration, insurance policies, and so much more. It can be very helpful to have this information at your fingertips, especially if your business has lots of locations, or your accounting team or administrative team is located in a different place than the actual fleet of vehicles they manage. And some inventory apps, including Sortly, can be customized to send you perfectly-timed maintenance alerts.
Plus, having these accurate records available can help speed up tedious tasks like claiming asset depreciation, filing corporate taxes, or putting together your company’s balance sheet.
Another thing that can help keep records accurate? An inventory system such as Sortly that keeps track of who had what vehicle, and when. The right inventory management software can allow you to check vehicles in and out so you have accurate, detailed records to refer to should any questions arise.
Experience the simplest inventory management software.
Sortly is a top-rated inventory management software solution that can help your business keep track of the cars and trucks in its commercial fleet. If you are wondering how to manage a fleet of trucks or cars you’ve already purchased or are about to receive, a good place to start is with a flexible, customizable, affordable inventory app that can help you track your vehicles in a way that makes sense to you.
Plus, with key automotive features like barcode and QR code scanning, high-resolution images, expiration and warranty alerts, and the ability to effortlessly track assets across multiple locations, Sortly can help you keep tabs on every last vehicle in your fleet.
Ready to give Sortly a try? Unlock our most premium features with a free, two-week trial.