Knowing when to expand your business to include a new or larger fleet can be difficult. Adding or expanding a fleet is a big decision that comes with a lot of new responsibilities and expenses, but can be a step that’s vital to the growth and success of your business. Not sure how to tell when the time is right to add or expand your fleet? These few signs can help you pinpoint the best opportunity.
- Keep an eye on the automobile market. Pay attention to the current price of trucks or whatever type of vehicle your business needs. Check often, try to learn how the price fluctuates and decide when you want to buy. Read consumer reviews and know the good and bad about the make and model of vehicle you’d like to purchase. Even if the prices dip very low, be sure to consider gas mileage, maintenance, the prices for extended warranties and other hidden costs.
- Run a budget analysis. Before you add vehicles to your fleet or start a new fleet, inspect your budget closely to be sure you can afford it. Plan for fuel costs, vehicle maintenance, warranties, insurance and unexpected expenses that are associated with multiple vehicles.
How to Manage Your New Fleet
If you decide the time is right to launch or expand a fleet, knowing how to manage it is the most important way to make your decision work for you. When managing your fleet, be sure to incorporate these crucial tips.
- Invest in fleet management technology. If you don’t already, you need to use fleet tracking to monitor your fleet’s average speeds, fuel usage, distance and more. Fleet management tools are important for creating accurate budgets, managing personnel, tracking movement, logging hours (using an EOBR), and making sure you remain FMCSA compliant. Fleet tracking will be one of the most important tools of your company’s success.
- Service your fleet regularly. Poorly maintained trucks will end up costing your business more money. If your trucks aren’t regularly serviced, they could end up costing you more for fuel, tires and repairs for fixing bigger problems down the road. Find a company or a mechanic that you trust to take care of and service your vehicles on a regular basis.
- Make your entire fleet more fuel-efficient. Making your fleet more fuel-efficient can save you big money in the long run. Wal-Mart was able to save between $35 and $50 million per year just by making changes that added up an extra mile per gallon per truck. How can you save fuel? Discourage drivers from speeding away from stoplights, speeding on the interstate or leaving their trucks to idle for more than 3 minutes at a time. Reduce extra weight on your truck by removing any tools, equipment or products that aren’t absolutely necessary for the route. Service your vehicles regularly and be sure that tires are properly inflated. Buy well-designed, modern vehicles that are made to be more aerodynamic.
- Regularly assess the state of your fleet. Using your fleet management tools, keep a constant eye on the state of your fleet. Know where all your trucks are, how much fuel they’re burning and whether or not they need maintenance. Be proactive about checking on the little things, as they can add up to big problems or big successes in the future.
With these simple tips, you can know when the time is right to expand your fleet and what to do when you have a fully functioning fleet on your hands. It’s a big undertaking that will introduce new responsibilities and challenges into your business, but it’s a step that’s crucial to your growth and prosperity.