Vehicular Vigilance: 10 Top Tips for Trucking Fleet Maintenance

What differentiates an entrepreneur from your average business owner? A willingness to invest in something can transform anyone’s view of business and success.

But many business owners and entrepreneurs fall short when it comes to investing in their existing business. They are on the lookout for new opportunities and neglect the chance for extra cash in the businesses they already own.

For example, while trucking fleet maintenance may seem like a fresh new cost it actually equals major opportunity. If you work to preserve your fleet you will cut down on repairs and downtime. You will also keep employees happy.

Here’s how to create a winning truck fleet maintenance program:

1. Trucking Fleet Maintenance As First Priority

If you take care of your equipment it will take care of you. This adage is especially true when it comes to the maintenance of your fleet.

Too many companies operate on a run-to-fail program and don’t calculate the lost time and heavy repair costs involved. If you shift gears and make maintenance a first priority company-wide your equipment, drivers, and clients will follow suit.

Unfortunately, unless it receives a high priority, maintenance will always get pushed aside for client needs and unexpected events.

2. Create a Checklist

Every truck fleet maintenance strategy has to have a plan. Without a written plan in place, you will have nothing to measure down the road.

Checklists should incorporate every task and be easy to follow. In addition, they should be customized for the make, model, and age of the equipment.

3. Reward Compliance

Too many companies work solely on a punishment system. If workers don’t do what they are supposed to do they are penalized.

But in the high-stress world of trucking, this strategy can work against you. You may find your drivers leave for other companies if they feel hindered or harassed.

There is already a shortage of drivers that is increasing shipping costs. Don’t add to the headaches of your company by running your employees away.

Instead, work to reward compliance. Drivers might expect a bonus or a reward for full compliance with your maintenance plan.

Full driver buy-in will help your maintenance plan be effective.

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4. Schedule Trucking Fleet Maintenance

It isn’t enough to make maintenance a priority for your company. You also need to proactively schedule maintenance and track compliance.

What’s more, you cannot afford to only perform preventative maintenance on some of the equipment in your fleet. Different trucks have different requirements, but you need to create checklists for each vehicle type.

This includes bucket trucks and other specialized equipment. Read more now about how dielectric testing is a must for certain vehicle types.

That said, it doesn’t matter if your fleet is working construction, shipping, or you are running a moving company. Scheduling maintenance around workload fluctuations and other internal needs will help you stay ahead of the needs of your fleet.

5. Use Technology To Your Advantage

It’s never been easier to create and measure a maintenance plan. You can use integrated technology to dispatch checklists and ensure compliance.

You can also track mileage against the last maintenance as well as time. Don’t forget the ability to attach photos of wear and tear to maintenance completion.

Whether you invest in maintenance software or not, use technology to your advantage.

6. An Integrated Approach to Safety

Nothing is more important than keeping your employees, clients, and other drivers safe. But many companies don’t include safety equipment testing and repair in their maintenance checklists.

Make sure you are keeping your drivers safe. Lights, wipers, fluids, and all safety equipment should be tested for compliance.

7. Don’t Forget the Tires

Many business owners and entrepreneurs limit their planned maintenance tasks to maintenance. But you can incorporate any task into your plan.

Don’t neglect other items that can assist in the performance and operations of your trucks and your company. You can incorporate safety tasks, training, and routine checks into your planned work.

And while you have a fresh set of eyes on your equipment don’t forget the tires! Underinflated tires can pose safety risks.

Underinflated tires can also negatively impact fuel economy. But don’t stop at tire pressure.

Make sure you have technicians thoroughly inspect tires for wear and tear. By heading off issues early you can avoid downtime on the road.

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8. Employee Incentives

One of the best ways you can protect the reputation of your business is by looking out for your employees. Making fleet maintenance a priority will protect your employees from unexpected breakdowns.

But you can also look out for your employees by offering incentives centered around maintenance. Unfortunately, many of your drivers may view the time set aside for preventative maintenance as a barrier to their paycheck.

The trucking lifestyle can be rough so you want to take care of your employees in order to keep them around. One way is to make sure they are compensated for their time and lost routes when performing maintenance.

Another way to incentivize employees is by rewarding them for recommended improvements to your plan. They are the experts and can help to make your program better if you reward their efforts.

9. Involve Best Practices

Your employees aren’t the only ones that can help make your company better. Your fleet maintenance plan should always be evolving based on industry best practices and your own experience.

The good news about using technology to measure usage and maintenance tasks is that you can adjust your program around what works. You can start to defer maintenance on aging equipment where the cost/benefit doesn’t add up.

You can also deploy multiple plans and measure changes to the manufacturer’s recommendations. Your plan should rely on best practices and an eye toward improvement to get better over time.

10. A Continuous Improvement Strategy

Trucking fleet maintenance is not a one and done plan. Business owners need to set aside time on an annual basis to measure performance and make changes as required.

Get The Funding You Need

Remember, it takes money to make money. Investing in your existing equipment and drivers will help employee retention, client retention, and will give you a competitive advantage in the market.

But what happens if you don’t have the funds to invest in continuous improvement starting today? You can’t afford to wait.