Fleet Maintenance in Lincoln, NE – 2018
If you have a fleet of vehicles, you likely know how important regular maintenance is to keeping you on the road while also managing costs to do so. It’s also equally important to you that your vehicles are safe for your team who are out on the road conducting business.
Some businesses have an established program with select service providers, which is recommended, while others don’t operate in this way but could certainly stand to benefit from doing so. We’ve got a breakdown of all of the important W’s – Who, What, When, Where, and Why – that should be carefully considered and applied to the maintenance program for fleets of all sizes and uses.
Who’s in Charge? When you don’t have someone dedicated to managing your fleet program, it’s easy for things not to get done when they need to be due to everyone assuming that someone else has it handled. Depending on your operation, it could work well to have the driver of the vehicle take responsibility for having the maintenance performed. Other times, this may be a dedicated position within your business responsible for the maintenance of all working vehicles. The key is to establish a system that ensures accountability for having the maintenance performed when it is needed – rather, at the certain intervals that are recommended by the manufacturer.
Aside from who is managing your fleet vehicles, anyone who is involved in the operation or the servicing can provide helpful insight. By keeping your drivers and service professionals actively involved and listening to their feedback, you can draw a lot of helpful recommendations and ideas for best practices. With a team approach, you can ensure program effectiveness and compliance.
What’s Next and When? Staying organized and having a checklist system for all of the necessary maintenance items will keep you in really great shape. The best part of partnering with any of the various automotive professionals for your tires, servicing, repairs, and so on is that they have excellent tracking systems they use and they’ll send out reminders when the time to have certain things done is approaching. Be sure to use that to your advantage!
Items to include in your checklist to have performed at the recommended intervals:
- Oil change (this is the most common sense of the bunch, but still, doesn’t hurt to set reminders)
- All other fluids and filters (air, fuel, radiator, transmission, and even down to the washer fluid)
- Heat and air conditioning systems
- Belts and hoses
- Exterior and interior lights
- All major systems (fuel, brakes, exhaust, etc.)
- Tires (and the wheels and rims, too)
- Engine tune-up and check mounts
- Frame and undercarriage (and regularly check for any leaks while you’re at it)
- Drive shaft and CV joints
- Airbags, safety belts, horns, windshield (all safety features should be fully functional at all times)
Where to Go? As for the “where” as it applies to the location of your vehicles, tracking your vehicles through GPS can also give you a lot of information. By ensuring appropriate use, you can save on fuel costs, increase employee productivity, and enhance employee utilization. Many cutting-edge GPS tracking tools operate in real time, so you can communicate with everyone on your team on the go. Along with utilizing reports and recommendations generated by your service professionals, there are apps that provide data you can leverage. With daily, weekly, monthly and/or annual reports on critical items such as fuel, routing, driver stats, time, employee hours, and tracking, you have the data to make the best decisions for your fleet and your business.
Then there’s the where as it applies to selecting your team of professionals. You want to be working with experts at a reputable facility that will work for you and your best interests. Start shopping for a service provider or repair facility before you need one; you can make better decisions when you are not rushed or in a panic. Always try to visit the shop before making the decision on who will repair your vehicle. Look for a neat, well-organized facility with modern equipment. Look for signs of professionalism in the customer service area, which might include civic and community service awards, memberships in local and national industry organizations, Better Business Bureau recognition or signage, customer service awards, etc. Ask if the staff is technically trained and competent, and expect to see certificates and industry credentials.
Finally, there’s the where as it applies to visibility. Anywhere your vehicle is at any given time, you have a prime opportunity to promote your business. Not only should your vehicle look nice to promote a positive image, but vehicle wraps or signage are a very popular way to be seen everywhere you go. Keeping your vehicle in pristine condition as far as the body and paint, as well as incorporating your logo, will help you get recognized and make a great impression while you’re at it.
Why Preventive Maintenance? Being proactive and keeping your vehicles well cared for will ensure you get the most out of your investment in each vehicle. It will keep your people working by avoiding any downtime when a vehicle is temporarily out of commission as well as any scheduling nightmares that would happen as a result of a breakdown. By keeping a vehicle running at peak performance, you’re also way less likely to be incurring any unexpected repair costs and you’ll get optimal mileage.
Now, that’s not to say that there won’t be accidents or breakdowns that happen along the way, despite being on top of things and having all of the recommended services performed. When this happens, again as previously mentioned, you want to know exactly who to call and where to take it. Particularly when it comes to accident repair, remember that you, the vehicle owner or fleet manager, have the right to choose who will be working on your vehicles – not your insurance company. While they will certainly make recommendations, those are just that – recommendations, not obligations. Then, whether it’s anything from glass repair and replacement to paintless dent repair and collision/framework repair, having any type of repair done right away and not letting it fall to the wayside is just as important as preventive maintenance. Especially when the vehicle is still operable, it can be easy to say you’ll take care of it soon – and then time goes by and you haven’t gotten to it yet. In the meantime, there could be further damage/deterioration that could end up being more costly to fix, or safety issues that could compromise your business.
Before we touched on keeping your vehicle looking nice as it relates to a positive image and making a good impression, but it also prevents rust and keeps your vehicle exterior in great condition. Going through the car wash regularly plus a good coat of wax, or even a protective coating that is professionally applied, will go a long way! Especially when vehicles are on the road quite a bit, it speeds up the process of corrosion due to salt, dust, bugs and debris that can build up quickly.
Sure, it’s just vehicle maintenance – but in both the short and long run, it’s major and should be considered a priority. It’s important to have a fleet maintenance plan in place if you want to keep your wheels (and employees) on the road and not in the shop. Most vehicles have a recommended maintenance plan provided from the vehicle manufacturer, as well as from the parts and tire manufacturers in terms of servicing and replacement. Generally, this will include specific checks and maintenance to be performed at certain mileage intervals. If you haven’t followed the factory plan it’s not too late to start, and a local service center like the ones you see displayed on these pages can help get you back on track.