In a perfect world, your work vehicles would always be available when needed. However, business owners know that’s never the case.
But the budget that small-to-medium-sized businesses allocate for downtime is just one- eighth of what’s typically needed.
Here are our tips so your business can improve the time vehicles are ready for operation.
Tip #1: Factor in the cost of vehicle downtime
First, let’s delve into the causes and impacts of scheduled and unexpected vehicle downtime on your operations.
It can cost your business thousands of dollars to have one or more work vehicles off the road. Here are some points to factor in:
- Vehicle breakdowns
- Be ready for unscheduled repairs
- Replace vehicles temporarily (hire) or in the long term
- Costs of idle staff and other overheads
- Depreciation expenses
- Delayed deliveries, which could lead to
- Unhappy customers who take their orders elsewhere
- Shorter lifetime value of your customers
- More time spent supporting customers
- Reputational damage to your brand
- Less revenue over time.
If your work vehicle has been involved in an accident, FleetComplete explains even more hidden costs. Check out this shortcut to estimating downtime costs, according to the Institute of Public Works Engineering Australasia.
Tip #2: Monitor vehicle health
What systems and tech are in place for real-time monitoring of the health of your vehicles? Much can be missed if you’re just using a manual system or rely on drivers to update you about issues.
Here’s a list of the key information to monitor for each vehicle:
- Engine health
- Warning indicators such as oil leaks
- Battery temperature
- Tyre pressure and wheel alignment
- Odometer readings
- Fuel consumption and costs
- Inspection results
- Vehicle use monitoring to assess if it’s under or overused, and
- Vehicle turnover.
Tip #3: Conduct preventative maintenance
The manufacturer’s guide to regular servicing is a good start for preventative maintenance to save time and reduce costs. You plan maintenance based on its recommendations for checks at kilometre benchmarks, for example. This approach is based on time or age rather than based on the vehicle’s actual condition or usage patterns. You can supplement this by ensuring drivers report any vehicle issues promptly.
Consider replacing your fleet over time with electric vehicles, if possible. They have fewer moving parts and are up to $400 cheaper per year to service than a conventional vehicle, says the Electrical Vehicle Council of Australia. Visit the council’s website for its comparison tool.
Tip #4: Use fleet management software
You can go one better than preventative maintenance with technology that offers predictive analytics and insights. Usually, these tools use sensors and internet connectivity to collect data about each vehicle’s condition.
This will give you real-time alerts about issues to address. Usually, there’s an online ‘dashboard’ to view every aspect of your vehicles remotely, and the fleet overall. It means you can digitise daily vehicle inspections, rather than just using time-hungry paper or manual methods. For example, GPS vehicle tracking allows you to set up instant alerts after a set distance has been travelled, and monitor driver routes.
Fleet management software simplifies vehicle repairs and scheduling. It can reduce poor management processes and communication that lead to downtime. As well, vehicle replacement programs ensure you don’t suffer with the extra downtime typical with older vehicles.
Tip #5: Invest in motor fleet insurance
Another good practice is to invest in appropriate insurance for your vehicles. Options for motor fleet cover include:
- Only third-party property damage
- Third-party property damage, plus theft and fire
- Comprehensive insurance.
You may also earn a premium discount for having clear driver policies, regularly training staff and tracking their behaviour. Encourage staff to use cruise control and less harsh braking to minimise wear and tear.
We can help you with a customised policy to suit your unique business needs.