Any organization that requires commercial vehicles is involved in some kind of fleet management. The volume of these registrations is on the rise worldwide. For example, in the EU, nearly 2 out of 3 new vehicles are sold to corporates.
This large scale operation involves solid teamwork between the drivers, managers, and back-end operators. To ensure smooth operations, each of them must be well-trained, assured security, treated well, and be given undue respect.
Why? Because they form the backbone of fleet management. Without them, you can’t operate a fleet. While it is the basic human tendency to treat your employees with utmost dignity, this behavior pertains to good profession etiquettes, leading to reduced fleet costs.
This is one common goal shared by all fleet operators, irrespective of their geographical locations. To address strategies that pull down these costs, this article focuses on ways to regulate the (literal) driving force of the fleet industry: Truck Drivers.
Below are 6 strategies you can adopt to regulate fleet drivers’ operations:
Driving Behaviour: Incentives & Penalties
Irregularities in a driver’s behavior are responsible for causing a significant ruckus and raising fleet costs for operators. Consuming fuel when not required, increased idle times, aggressive driving are few of the common signs of such behaviors.
Instead of (just) discounting a driver’s salary on account of speeding tickets or violation of company rules, enforce a strict barrier between acceptable and non-acceptable actions and consequences.
It is important to make the drivers ‘feel’ responsible for their actions. Involve them in the process. Provide mini incentives in quarter competitions that reward the top two performing drivers with the lowest idle time or with parameters that you mark important in your offices.
On account of consistent violations, say 3 for example, create warnings and abide by them. This behavior will help keep other drivers in check, thereby aiding with regular operations and lowering operating costs.
Adopt Technological Advancements
Greater the distance – more fuel consumed – heavier the debits on financial statements.
To cut down the distance, adopt Global Positioning System (GPS) devices in your vehicles. This suggests the fastest route, one that is hosting lesser traffic than the others.
Periodically auditing mileage reports reminds drivers that they are under constant observation; therefore, the scope of “no one is watching, let me take a detour for personal reasons” is eliminated.
Some operators encourage drivers to bring their own GPS-imbedded devices. This reduces hardware, licensing, and training costs.
Reduce Fuel Costs
Fuel costs are expensive for any fleet operator. And the difficulty of tracking this cost makes it more expensive from an operational perspective.
Adopting GPS and audit reports will curb down fuel expenses. But this is not all, you should teach your drivers to avoid revving the engine. Allow a 10-minute buffer to let the car warm up on its own.
While this sounds like a relatively obvious course of treatment, many drivers defy such rules regularly.
Cut Down Driver Idle Time
It is well-known that drivers spend hours sitting in their trucks, blasting air conditioners on running fuels. While this is unethical, this practice has been in operation for decades.
According to Engines Off!, a Colorado government campaign, it is found that the idle time clocks up to 8 hours per day, with organizations incurring somewhere between $8,000 – $12,000 in fuel each year.
It is important to put an end to this.
Many of the American states have enforced respective anti-idle laws to protect operator abuse. An average of 3-5 minutes of idle time is permitted.
For countries where such laws don’t exist, it is particularly vital to install an app to track fleets, like Samsara. This helps you get alerts if a driver exceeds the set idle time limit, speeds up, or detours during work or off-work hours.
Conduct Regular Workshops
While it is prudent to instruct drivers at each stage of new developments, it is efficient to conduct regular workshops for them. Sending out advanced notices for this activity helps drivers adjust their holiday schedules; thereby, recording maximum participation.
As an operator, it is your responsibility to be familiar with trucking industry updates. Please share them with the drivers. Conduct fun activities that foster innovation and motivation amongst them.
Driver Safety is supremely important. Teach them safe driving techniques to tackle the slippery snow-covered roads. Show exercises, especially for back injuries that they can pursue every day.
According to a report published by Volvo, EU records 26,000 road fatalities each year, of which 15% are truck-related. These workshops will pull down the accident rates, saving lives and vehicle insurance costs for operators.
Increase Driver Retention
Reports indicate that it is cheaper to retain an existing driver than onboard a new one. Rationally, it makes sense. The process of recruiting and training a new driver incurs a good investment of time & money.
Common causes of frequent driver recruiting are:
- Hiring drivers who compromise on driving skills & other qualities
- Hiring from the pool of soon-to-reach-retirement-age, say 47-49
- The large volume of freights
It is wise to save costs in this realm to re-invest into other profitable zones.
Workshops are an excellent medium to maintain retention. Additionally, taking driving feedbacks help in this regard. Since they’re the ones hitting the road, they will have baskets full of suggestions that can result in existing amendments and/or create new & efficient technology to cut down the rising fleet costs.
While the above-mentioned points are no rocket science to understand, they’re easier said than done. Implementing these changes at a macro level requires persistence, patience, and good investments of time & money.
It is not easy to control (and regulate) a strong union, like one of the drivers. Starting with baby steps is an ideal strategy.
Drivers need to realize that they’re not just working on a payroll basis. Operators should strike & nurture relationships with them. Let them feel valuable. This will motivate them to pursue the regulations, which will help you reduce your fleet costs significantly.