5 Tips for minimising vehicle downtime

Business Insights

For any business operating company cars or vans, a vehicle off road is both problematic and expensive. There is the direct cost of maintenance or repair. The indirect cost of missed business opportunities or the inability to meet customer demand. Then there is also the issue of sourcing a replacement vehicle to get your driver mobile as quickly as possible.

Unsurprising then that minimising downtime is a key focus when choosing a contract hire or fleet management partner. Track records, processes and the expertise and experience of their maintenance and downtime teams all come under scrutiny when appointing the right supplier.

However, downtime can be minimised by being proactive about the causes, and there are 5 key steps for keeping vehicles moving.

The first step is to identify your priority vehicles, determining which vehicles your business simply can’t do without.

Whether it’s vans or high-mileage cars, it will pay to focus on the vehicles on which your business depends. Giving these vehicles priority will minimise the costs related to downtime, such as replacement cars or vans, and it’s important to have a plan in place to quickly move the drivers into similar vehicles, or swap your fleet around, if these are temporarily out of use.

Secondly, plan your maintenance. You can extract a great deal of data from modern vehicles and a connected technology solution will provide early warnings of issues.

Such a solution provides truly pro-active service booking through visibility of the service countdown days from the vehicle, it sends notifications from the vehicle to your maintenance teams of dashboard warning lights, and gives the ability to ‘merge’ work. For example, if a vehicle needs a non-urgent tyre but you can see that a service is due in 30 days, you can combine the jobs.

Thirdly, engage with drivers. Your drivers often hold the key to reducing vehicle downtime. Through careful driving and regular checks, they can ensure that vehicles stay on the road for longer, by reducing servicing requirements, avoiding breakdowns and ensuring parts last longer, such as tyres. They are also the ones who will sense if something is wrong or see a warning light flash up on the dashboard. Sadly, it’s not uncommon for drivers to think ‘it’s not my vehicle’ and ignore these, however by engaging with drivers can lead to much greater cooperation and communication between them and the fleet team. It’s also important to minimise the chances of vehicle damage through driver risk assessments and training and our Driver Care solution manages all aspects of this.

A simple online driver risk assessment will pinpoint those drivers most likely to have a collision so that they can be provided with proactive web-based driver training to reduce the chances of ever having an incident in the first place.

Fourthly, obtain data-driven insights. Gathering data is vital to understanding the costs and causes of unscheduled downtime. It can pinpoint which drivers are ‘off road’ most frequently, which may mean their driving style or vehicle care is to blame, and it can highlight whether there is a trend with certain vehicle types or particular faults or collisions. Effective use of data is key and you should consider a broad range of data sources, from invoicing through to telematics.

Finally, work closely with your suppliers. They can be the best source of insight to drive your strategy to minimise downtime, and at Interactive Fleet Management we have regular, active dialogue with our customers to ensure we are working in partnership to keep their vehicles and drivers moving.

Whether it’s your garage network, fleet management provider, accident management supplier or leasing company, they will have best practice insights and advice, and we take great care in ensuring we do everything we can to help our customers meet their business objectives by minimising time off road.

At Interactive Fleet Management, we are not a call centre style of business, which means our customers and drivers enjoy speaking to real people who can offer guidance and support, all of which is underpinned by our award-winning fleet management system and driver app

If your contract hire or fleet management provider isn’t offering you transparency of data, and you don’t engage in frequent dialogue about the percentage of vehicles off road and how to minimise it, this is something well worth challenging. Simple changes could result in very sizeable improvements to your business.

For more information, visit: https://www.interactivefleet.co.uk/ Phone 01536 536 590 or Email: info@interactivefleet.co.uk

By Andy Reed, Operations Director at Interactive Fleet Management, the Grosvenor group’s specialist fleet management business