4 common mistakes fleet owners make

Graham Wood 11/18/2019 Vehicle Management

Let’s face it, everyone makes mistakes. Even a fleet owner or fleet manager. Who would have thought?

In case you’re too stubborn or embarrassed a fleet owner to admit making mistakes, don’t worry. You’re not alone. And it’s like the well-known Japanese saying, “even monkeys fall from trees”. Who knows, you may not even know that the things you are doing are actually mistakes. It doesn’t matter, that’s why we’re here. Well, it’s one of the reasons anyway.

We have picked up some of the things that we feel are common mistakes that a fleet owner makes in their everyday business dealings. But wait. Before we go through them, let’s make one thing clear here. We’re not actually “accusing” you of messing up. Of course, there are some things that are simply not within your control.

Nevertheless, as a fleet manager (which means that you are held responsible for everything that has to do with your fleet) or a fleet owner, you’re the one who handles all the administration, so you want the best for your fleet. And this means that being aware of all slip-ups you can take key decisions help your business.

What are the key mistakes you make as a fleet owner?

You may argue that you never make mistakes. Or that you make more than 6. It doesn’t matter really, since we may have have a different definition of what a mistake is. Nonetheless, here are the 4 key mistakes that we believe are the ones which can negatively impact any fleet owner’s business.

Failing to control fuel costs

As a fleet owner, the only thing more valuable to you as a resource besides your vehicles and your drivers is the fuel that you purchase. You need to stay on top of this and make sure you are not overspending. Your watchword, or perhaps catchphrase, should be “eliminate waste”.

Here there are usually two issues:

  1. The problem of ignoring, or not being aware, of drivers using vehicles for their other activities than their regular work. Either that be for personal use, or other professional use. In other words falling victim to employee fraud or fraudulent business practices.
    Solution: Using a fleet tracking solution like our very own Veturilo, as well as being more vigilant with your fuel economy by keeping regular logs and checking up on personal use, km’s, etc is what you should be doing. Every day.
  2. The mistake of disregarding idling time.
    Solution: In this case your "fleet owner self" really needs to educate your drivers and make sure that all of your vehicles are only ever using the minimum possible idling time, and thus fuel.

Inefficient use of vehicles

No matter what type of vehicles you own, your fleet is your business’s core asset and you need to be thinking of efficiency as an “always on” status. The way you use your vehicles affects your everyday efficiency, safety and business costs. So, what am I doing wrong I hear you asking?

Try these for size:

  • Replacing your fleet vehicles too early as you want to avoid any issues OR
  • Not replacing your fleet as early as you could and ignoring tell-tale wear and tear signs (i.e. frequent visits to the auto repair shop in a short space of time)
  • Upgrading your fleet. Not adding more or new vehicles to your fleet at the correct time, and thus over-using your existing vehicles. Or conversely, you might be under-using your existing vehicles, so maybe you’ll need to hire new drivers and expand your business further. Or, make a plan on how you’re going make the best out of your vehicles (plan to sell one or a few of them and reschedule your shifts etc.)
  • Overloading vehicles constantly giving them a shorter life span or make them more prone to problems.

Bad fleet maintenance

We’ve all been there. Maybe you skip a service or a scheduled health check to save some money. This is called neglecting vehicles’ “health issues”, be it a simple oil change or brake fluid refill. It's alright, a fleet owner is still human. But, sometimes, it’s these simple things that if not done right, can cause severe engine or other malfunction issues later. You need a structured plan of when to visit an auto repair shop — for every vehicle in your fleet.

Bad driver management

Apart from the above, there’s also paying no attention to, or turning a blind eye to misdemeanors committed by your drivers. If your drivers’ behavior is not up to scratch, then this will reflect badly on your business and cost you money. For example, if you are a business ferrying passengers (taxi or chauffeur firm, school bus fleet, etc), you need to make sure your drivers are putting safety first, and are always on time. If not, then this bad driver behavior affects:

Business reputation

Your relationship with your customers, as a fleet owner, is key here. If vehicles and/or goods are arriving late and it’s due to drivers mistakes/decisions (i.e. wasting time on the road without reason – stopping by to do things outside the scope of work, choosing wrong routes – not shortest ones and you not being aware of it), then this will reflect poorly on your reputation.

Drivers’ management

It can be difficult to find good drivers. Even more difficult to hang on to them. But, if you make a bad hiring decision, it will take some time to find this out in most cases. This means you have the cost of their poor work and behavior, which is exacerbated by the fact that you have to kick off another recruiting drive. This means more operating expenses.

You can solve these problems

There are solutions to the above. For example, you can use a fleet management solution to track your drivers and vehicles to make sure they are on time and driving with the proper behaviors – i.e. be aware of extreme driving behaviors on the road (speeding, harsh turns, heavy breaking, etc). Then you can take the appropriate actions before it’s too late. On top of that, there’s also the important aspect of training. Either you will hire a freelancer/third party for this, or hire someone in-house to do it if you fleet is large enough to warrant that. Now, go be the fleet owner you aspire to be; because now, you can!