As we enter the spring season, many companies are gearing up for peak customer demand. But as business owners and fleet managers start preparing their employees and internal operations to withstand the increased volume of business, it’s imperative they do the same with their fleets.
While many companies are relying on the upcoming peak season to offset some of the negative business implications the coronavirus pandemic caused over the last year, it is critical this year for managers to properly service their vehicles to ensure that no dead battery, shredded tire, or faulty system has the potential to cause any delays that could impact the company’s ability to conduct business.
Typically, companies with larger fleets who stay on top of their fleet cycling replace their vehicles in the fall and spring, as the resale value is higher for both the vehicles they’re replacing and the vehicles they’re adding.
As a result of high demand, production delays caused by the pandemic, and a global computer chip shortage, the current supply of many vehicles is currently very limited. This means business owners and fleet managers need to make plans now to get their new vehicles if they haven’t already; otherwise, they’ll likely need to stick with their current fleet for an extended period of time.
In many cases, it’s already too late for the 2021 model year so business owners and fleet managers should note that in the future, it’s best to be as proactive as possible by using industry standards such as periods of peak resale value as anchors when planning for the year. Getting the company’s fleet on a cyclical schedule can help managers better plan around industry-wide periods of demand, ensuring their company secures the vehicles necessary for the upcoming year.
The Evolution of Vehicle Maintenance
Today, vehicle service intervals are greater and the maintenance they require is less than in years past, but managers should still monitor core items like belts and hoses, brakes, tires, batteries, and wiper blades to keep employees safe while on the road, especially in hot regions like the South and Southwest.
The concern is the increasing trend of drivers and operators taking their trucks to quick-stop oil change shops for an oil change and tire pressure check; while these facilities are convenient, they aren’t always able to check brakes, hoses, belts, cables, and other important components. It’s important to still monitor these parts, as a shift in weather can have an impact of varying severity, especially after a particularly cold winter. Effective management of total vehicle maintenance is critical year-round, so if a vehicle or fleet hasn’t been checked yet, be sure that’s done before it’s sent out for its next job.
How and When to Prepare for Peak Spring Season
A great way to prepare for peak season is to ensure the company’s fleet is on a cyclical maintenance and replacement schedule. Cycling vehicles is an effective way to manage repair costs, since replacing vehicles using industry standards can help companies avoid major repairs like transmissions and engine overhauls.
By staggering their approach, fleet managers can prepare their vehicles on a rolling basis, softening the financial impact on the company’s budget and bottom line. It’s extremely rare that a business would replace an entire fleet at once, so most companies are already leveraging a cyclical, staggered approach.
If the fleet isn’t already following a staggered approach, managers can base their cycle around the vehicle’s mileage or wear and tear. Utilizing diagnostic tools can help identify a potential issue before the warning light goes on, which can decrease the number of significant repairs and save the business money.
For businesses located in a particularly warm climate, fleet managers should consider taking the extra step of having the vehicle inspected by a professional technician to guarantee the vehicle is safe and will get the company through peak season without any hitches.
Fleet managers should always refer to the vehicle’s owner’s manual for specific guidance and suggested maintenance intervals. Additionally, to take some of the burden off small business owners and fleet managers who are busier than ever, owners should consider implementing a fleet maintenance program, designed to create efficiencies in administrative processes by providing guidance so that servicing and replacing fleets can remain a top priority.