Building a fleet strategy

Managing an efficient and effective fleet

As is the case with most divisions and operations within a business, devising a fixed strategy for the management of commercial vehicles can help when it comes to working towards measurable goals and highlighting where there is room for improvement in a business.

Combining the day to day operations of company vehicles with an overarching plan for the optimisation of a fleet into one tangible strategy can help develop a well-oiled, efficient and effective fleet for your business.

Building a fleet strategy is dependent on a range of factors, however, the size of your business and the number of vehicles it comprises of is a good basis to begin devising your strategy from.

Regardless of company size, the principles behind creating a fleet strategy remain largely the same, here’s what you need to know:

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Align with your business

Running a fleet requires money and subsequently will involve requesting budget from the business as well as reporting on performance against that budget.

Therefore, in order to be genuinely successful in managing a fleet, the way in which you do so must link intrinsically with your business’ other priorities, goals and overall direction.

For example, if a business is focused heavily on cost saving, strategy may involve exhausting free or inexpensive options such as creating fleet logs to track vehicles in-house or carrying out regular vehicle checks to help pre-empt costly maintenance work.

Alternatively, a business may have focus around new technologies and data in which case you may invest in telematics technology to gain hard and fast numbers with which to optimise your fleet’s efficiency.

Knowing a company’s vision before implementing a fleet strategy applies even to a one-man band such as a self-employed tradesperson. If for example, an electrician cannot function properly without their van, keeping that van on the road at all costs is central to that business and becomes the primary focus of their fleet strategy.

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Get user input

As well as considering the overall business, a fleet strategy should also consider the people it will affect.

As with any planning activity in a business, fleet management doesn’t work without a strategy which works for those who are regularly involved in it.

If a company boasts an army of drivers operating commercial vehicles, it makes sense to gain their insight into how the vehicles could be better maintained or used more efficiently.

Consulting those who are closest to the action in terms of a business’ fleet can only help offer a different, practical perspective to how best to manage vehicles.

In addition, involving fleet drivers in the strategy process will ensure that all parties are singing from the same hymn sheet when it comes to putting that strategy into practice.

The more involved the fleet users, the smoother the fleet will operate.

Make it measurable

Before becoming carried away with the possibilities of what a fleet can deliver for a business, it’s important to set realistic, tangible goals and targets so that whatever success looks like for your business, can be measured properly.

The success of a fleet can be measured predominantly in two ways – first, how much money it saves or delivers for the business, and second, the usage, efficiency and productivity it bears for the business.

Each business will differ in what it needs its fleet to deliver, and what an effective fleet looks like.

Underpinning a strategy with the right KPIs is critical in staying on track and giving the fleet management process the direction and focus it needs to succeed.

It is also important to report and reflect on these regularly in order to highlight any issues or learnings from the way your fleet is run.