Top tips to managing an ageing service fleet
Penny Stoolman, managing director at Prestige Fleet Servicing, shares her top tips to managing an ageing service fleet, helping construction businesses to cut emissions, minimise downtime and streamline running costs.
With service vans continuously on the road helping customers to keep their fleets moving, it’s important to consider the impact of unnecessary downtime and escalating vehicle costs. But managing a fleet of older vehicles can make this role more challenging. On average, older fleets need more regular servicing and are more likely to consume more fuel. They may also fail to comply with new environmental legislation and carry a greater risk of breakdowns.
However, older fleets have become more commonplace over the past 18 months. Some managers have increased vehicle lifespans in response to the challenges of sourcing vehicles during the pandemic, or as a result of Brexit uncertainty, while others are focusing on the 2030 ban on all new petrol and diesel vehicles and calculating the best time to transition to electrification.
Whatever your reasoning, an ageing fleet can prove costly unless correctly managed. However, by taking a focused approach to preventative maintenance in the short-term, it’s possible to minimise the risk to your business, while reaping the financial benefits of keeping older vehicles operational for longer.
- Building a picture
Do you know how the maintenance schedule, requirements, history and fuel usage of every single vehicle within your fleet, regardless of type? To build a clearer picture, you’ll need to review the maintenance history of each vehicle and parts replaced. Each model should have an inspection and service record and details of current mileage and fluid levels. Decide on a trigger point to schedule maintenance activity, i.e. every 5,000 miles, and create software service reminders for each vehicle. Follow your OEM’s recommended maintenance plan, if available.
- Planning ahead
There are a number of forward-thinking procedures you can put in place to ease the management process throughout the year, including pre-planning servicing and MOTs. On average, a third of light commercial vehicles initially fail their MOTs, leaving managers compromised in the event of a tight turnaround. Taking advantage, for example, of forward booking options can minimise downtime, ensuring vehicles are fully utilised for longer. At Prestige, we offer a 90-day forward booking facility, working with operators to optimise their vehicle testing schedules.
Your fleet’s needs will also change in the colder months. Vehicle batteries rarely last longer than five years, while heating, lights and windscreen wipers add to a vehicle’s electrical load in winter. We also recommend 3mm of tyre tread in the colder months. To ease unnecessary costs, we recommend scheduling in an annual pre-winter vehicle check.
- Driver training
Did you know that drivers who haven’t received formal driver training use more fuel? Fleet driver training can reduce fleet management costs by increasing fuel efficiency, in addition to boosting driver safety. Teaching employees best practice driving habits, such as accelerating and braking more gently, not only improves safety figures, but can also prevent wear and tear, while saving on fuel and lowering vehicle emissions.
- Is your fleet grey?
Ageing fleet issues apply to grey fleets too. While many businesses don’t focus heavily on grey fleet management, it’s important to remember that if a vehicle is being used for business travel, employers are responsible for ensuring that it is adequately maintained and safe. Poorly maintained vehicles can cause costly business downtime issues and, more critically, leave employers widely exposed under the Corporate Manslaughter Act 2007.
Failure to properly manage service intervals, collisional damage and uninsured losses in the event of an incident can result in unplanned downtime and expense. The impact of absenteeism also counts as business downtime, and reputational damage should also be considered.
If you’re not already doing this, it makes sense to start putting some procedures in place. Businesses should request evidence of recent taxation, proof of insurance, including business cover, servicing and an up-to-date MOT. Scheduling insurance, MOT and road tax reminders will help you remember key milestone dates.
- Identify and sell outdated assets
Crunching the data for each vehicle should also help you to identify if there are any models in your fleet that aren’t currently being used or that are reaching end of life, allowing you to calculate the best time to sell those nearing termination point.
If you need further guidance on managing your ageing fleet, our team are ready to take away the associated stress and strains. Visit https://www.theaa.com/business/prestige-fleet-servicing to find out what we can do to help.