When a business starts purchasing and using company vehicles, there are a range of concerns that must be adequately addressed before the fleet hits the road. Unfortunately, many startups use credit to hastily buy and rent vehicles without paying close attention to some very important details. Any time you’re allowing employees to drive company-owned vehicles there are bound to be liability risks and other considerations that shouldn’t be ignored. With that said, here are the top five company transportation concerns that every responsible business owner should keep in mind:
1. Testing and Screening Employees
It should go without saying that any employee applying for a position that carries driving privileges should be thoroughly screened and drug tested before being allowed behind the wheel of a company vehicle. It’s imperative that you look into their background and driving history to check for accidents, DUIs, reckless crimes, or any other incidents that might indicate they’re less than responsible drivers. Start by knowing and trusting your drivers and you’ll have peace of mind from the beginning.
2. Monitoring Vehicle Location and Condition
Every company vehicle should be outfitted with a GPS and you should use location monitoring tools to keep track of vehicle whereabouts at all times. You don’t want your vehicles being used for leisure or illicit activity without your knowledge. It may also be worthwhile to install anti-theft devices, consider vehicles that offer the option of remote disabling, and look into fleet tracking apps that can notify you when a vehicle has exited a certain geographical area; that way you can stop a rogue employee or thief from taking off with a company car and driving hours away before suspicion arises.
3. Keeping Track of Vehicle and Product Recalls
Sadly, most recalls go unnoticed by consumers unless they’re one of the rare cases that happens to make national headlines, like the recent Chevy Cruze recall. However, did you know that in 2015 alone there were 51 million cars recalled? How in the world could anyone keep up with all those recalls? Fortunately, you don’t have to worry about every recall in existence to stay on top of your own fleet. Simply use a vehicle safety recall lookup tool to search for any recalls on your company vehicles online. Make this a quarterly habit for good measure. Items such as ramps can also be recalled so if you’ve bought something like used portable truck ramps and you don’t have a direct line to the company that originally sold them, you’ll need to make sure you have alerts set up in case a recall is issued, as otherwise you might be working with dangerous products.
4. Calculating Fuel and Maintenance Costs
Another company transportation concern that often goes overlooked during the planning phase is the ongoing cost of fuel and vehicle maintenance. Start by estimating the number of miles your fleet drives each week and extrapolate that amount out to a full year to get a general figure of how much it will cost to keep your company vehicles on the road and in good working order. Some businesses find that they’re able to save money by arranging contracts with mechanic shops that service vehicles at a reduced cost in exchange for the guarantee of being the go-to service provider for the whole fleet. Other businesses use a factoring company for truckers to get cash for timely repairs.
5. Effectively Accommodating Workload
An expanding company also needs to worry about whether they have enough vehicles and drivers to maintain punctuality during the busiest hours of the day. When deliveries start to fall behind or transportation-related complaints start popping up, it may be time to consider adding another vehicle and/or driver to the team. On the other hand, sometimes the problem isn’t the volume of vehicles but the performance of the drivers themselves. Thus, before upsizing your fleet it’s a good idea to closely monitor and assess driver performance to weed out any employees who might be slacking on the job or using company vehicles inappropriately. Sometimes it’s just a case of training drivers or optimizing trip coordination practices to ensure routes are being drawn up and prioritized properly. Adversely, if you find that one or more vehicles are rarely in use, it might be time to downsize by liquidating a company vehicle or sending it back to the dealership.
Considering All of the Above to Build Strong Transportation Strategies and Policies
Small businesses often lack the discipline and structure found in the boardrooms of major corporations, and that’s probably why the larger entities stay at the top of the food chain. The same type of lackadaisical behavior is commonly seen in business owners who haphazardly buy or rent company vehicles and hastily hire drivers without conducting proper due diligence. Whether you’re running a struggling startup or a booming medium-sized enterprise, heeding the above considerations would be a great start in devising a logical and effective company vehicle policy and transportation strategy.
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