Maintaining, insuring, and managing a fleet of step vans is a demanding task. But, it is a critical one that ensures the longevity of your step vans, lowers associated repair costs, and contributes to decreased risk for your business.
Whether you operate a small fleet of step vans or a large fleet with hundreds of vans, trucks, and trailers, building out a quality strategy for maintenance, insurance, and best management practices is key to improving your company’s operational efficiencies and, ultimately, your bottom line.
The following guide will outline the ideal methods for step van maintenance, quality tactics for insuring your step vans, and best practices for fleet management.
How to Build a Maintenance Strategy
Routine maintenance is a critical component of managing any fleet. Without the right maintenance strategy in place, drivers can be left stranded on the side of the road, deliveries can be delayed, and business can be lost.
Keep in mind that not all maintenance requirements are the same. There's maintenance that you plan for, and maintenance that is unscheduled and unexpected.
Some key differences between routine maintenance and unscheduled maintenance include:
- Scheduled maintenance: An important part of any fleet management strategy is scheduled and routine maintenance. This is a preventative style of maintenance, focused on catching issues before they occur and keeping vehicles operating smoothly.
- Unplanned maintenance: In many cases, unscheduled maintenance will occur after a breakdown or other issue. This type of vehicle maintenance is generally more costly, not only in dollar amounts but also in time lost.
For a fleet manager working to improve their step van maintenance strategy, it is critical to build out a quality scheduled maintenance plan. This can help prevent costly downtime on the road and missed delivery schedules.
Preventative maintenance might include any of the following tasks:
- Oil changes
- Tire rotations
- Fluid checks
When creating a maintenance strategy, it is important to build a plan that will meet the needs of the specific step vans in your fleet. For example, not all vehicles need oil changes at the same interval.
Build a checklist for your vehicles and keep detailed records of what maintenance has been performed and when it was performed. Implement technology that will help you track maintenance, setting up automated reminders of when a vehicle is due for routine service.
Lastly, empower your drivers! Ask your drivers to perform a daily vehicle inspection that includes checking the tires, oil, and fluids. Daily inspections can help ensure that bigger issues are caught early on. Make sure that you have policies in place for what your drivers should do to record any issues they notice during vehicle operation as well.
Tips for Choosing the Right Fleet Insurance
A well-maintained fleet also needs to be insured. Obtaining insurance for your step vans is about more than simply adhering to legal requirements. It is a critical means to lowering the risk to your business. For this reason, choosing the right insurance can be a major decision.
The following tips will help you navigate the insurance buying process:
- Spend time shopping around. Don’t be afraid to compare policies and speak to agents from multiple companies.
- Each year, review your policies. An annual review can ensure that you are still choosing the ideal policy for your needs.
- Ask to review claims made against your insurance annually as well. This review process can help you take note of areas where your drivers might need more training, or where vehicle failure was at fault.
In addition to taking the time to find the right fleet insurance for your step vans, it is equally as important to hire qualified drivers and ensure that they are equipped with proper training. Poor driving habits and frequent accidents will put your business at risk, as well as drive up the cost of your insurance plan.
Step Van Fleet Management Best Practices
Managing a fleet of step vans doesn’t have to be an ongoing headache. With the right strategy, you can improve efficiency in your management practices, as well as lower the costs associated with your fleet. The following best practices are a great place to begin.
Build a Strategy, Don’t Leave It to Chance
One of the best things you can do when managing a fleet of step vans is to take the time to build out a clear strategy. Whether you inherited the task from someone else, or you are a small business owner who juggles fleet management along with other business-critical tasks, knowing how your fleet operates today will help optimize performance.
Keep Quality Records
Recordkeeping can mean the difference between keeping your fleet running smoothly or missing a critical oil change that leads to premature engine failure.
Beyond just maintenance records, ensure that your strategy includes detailed records for all of the following:
- Safety metrics
- Annual vehicle inspections
- Insurance policies
- Driver records, such as licenses, drug, and alcohol screening tests, and training certifications
- All legal requirements, such as driver hour logs, DOT inspections, and permitting
Analyze Data and Adjust Your Management Accordingly
One of the reasons why quality record keeping is so critical is because these records will provide you with the data points you need to analyze and adjust your management strategy accordingly.
When analyzing data, ask yourself these key questions about your strategy:
- Is it saving money?
- Is it improving efficiency?
- Is it increasing safety?
For any area where you cannot answer yes, take a deep dive into your current management practices and look for areas to improve. For example, if you are checking the recordkeeping around maintenance, and you see that your drivers are spending a lot of time doing unscheduled vehicle maintenance, it’s probably best to revisit your scheduled maintenance strategy. By implementing new scheduled maintenance policies, you could save money, improve efficiency, and increase your drivers’ safety.
Find a Trusted Partner for Step Van Acquisition and Maintenance
A large portion of fleet management is focused on step van acquisition and the maintenance of those vehicles. For this reason, finding a trusted partner to work with is critical to your success. You need a company that you can rely on for quality step van inventory, flexible financing options, and in-house maintenance and mobile service when available.
Working with the right team can ensure that you keep acquisition costs low and that your fleet remains well maintained.
At Transwest, we offer a quality selection of step vans, backed by the experience of our knowledgeable staff. We take pride in offering the highest quality of customer service to our clients, and we hope to see you at one of our locations soon. Talk to us today about your step van fleet maintenance and acquisition strategy.