As a fleet manager you’re constantly facing challenges, not only in day-to-day operations but also in terms of long-term profitability. Since the vehicles are one of any company’s largest investments, the more economically they operate the better it is for your bottom line.

There are some things that you can do to optimize your van fleet that don’t require a large capital outlay. Once you get your drivers and maintenance people on board, you’ll be operating at peak efficiency.

Automate!

To begin with, if you’re still using a manual system to handle fleet vehicle sharing, reservations, optimal routes and driver assignments, stop! The manual system is outdated and inefficient. Instead, start automating your fleet utilization, which includes self-service reservations, driver vehicle assignments and optimizing your routes. This will help to minimize vehicle downtime.

All it takes is an app and a smartphone to set up your automated vehicle management system. You could even start tracking your vehicle’s locations using their GPS, and monitor diagnostics, fuel consumption and driver behaviors. This will help you control your costs through vehicle utilization. 

Educate!

Getting your drivers to change their driving behaviors for better vehicle optimization is one of the ways to optimize your existing vehicles. Start educating them on how to drive in an ecological way so that fuel consumption is kept to a minimum. This includes turning the vehicle off when making deliveries and driving the speed limit to conserve fuel.

They should also let your maintenance people know when something is wrong with the vehicle. Early maintenance and repairs can help avoid major problems and larger costs later on. Also, put a huge emphasis on safe driving, which includes locking the vehicle to prevent theft and obeying all traffic laws. 

Consider improving your ergonomics with a van upfit, because this leads to improved economics as well. Upfit those vans with interior racks or drop-down holding systems. This makes it easier to load and unload equipment and cargo, reducing injuries. And have them learn better loading and unloading patterns focusing on ergonomics. as well.

Finally, think about installing contoured cab partitions behind the driver’s seat. This will help to create a barrier between the cab and the cargo area, helping to reduce shifting that could cause serious injuries. 

Negotiate!

By limiting the number of suppliers you use, you have a good chance of negotiating a fair and equitable price. As the fleet manager, you hold a lot of the power in the negotiations. Compare various bids, and then approach the one supplier you feel offers the best value and negotiate with them to get the price you feel is right for your company. 

By offering exclusivity to a specific vendor, you should be able to get the price you want.

Delegate!

The job of a fleet manager is fluid - in that you’re doing all types of tasks one minute and then a complexly new range of tasks the next. It’s a time consuming job, and in order to optimize your fleet, you may not be able to do it all by yourself. That’s why it’s important to delegate some of the work involved.

Of course you’ll be involved, and will manage the process. After all, you have the knowledge of your company and your customer, so you understand the key metrics of success better than anyone else.  But it wouldn’t hurt to bring in a trusted advisors or key employees to help with the design and implementation of the work involved in putting the program together.

That includes the technologies that will help you automate your fleet management system, the proactive maintenance programs and the efficient use of routes and vehicles.