November 30, 2017

Improving the management of pool vehicles

Providing employees with pool vehicles is an ideal option in many situations. This applies when it is too costly to provide all employees with their own vehicles, or when this option is not appropriate or practical. An example of the latter is where employees drive commercial vehicles rather than cars.

In addition, pool vehicles are better than having a grey fleet because of the risks involved in letting employees use their own cars for business purposes. After all, when it is the employee's car, you have minimal control but may still be liable when things go wrong.

So, pool vehicles are an ideal middle-of-the-road solution. There is one major problem - a fleet of pool vehicles can be very hard to manage. There are three main reasons for this:

  • Resource intensive - manually managing a fleet of pool vehicles uses a lot of resources as your team will need to deal with spreadsheets, physical paperwork, and ineffective booking systems.
  • Inefficient - even when you have a hardworking team looking after the fleet of pool vehicles, it can still be inefficient. In fact, the utilisation of fleet vehicles is often just 50 percent, i.e. your vehicles are not in use for 50 percent of the time.
  • Employee behaviour - it's an unfortunate reality that people treat pool vehicles differently to vehicles they regard as their own. This mistreatment can take many forms including driving the vehicle uneconomically or returning it in a dirty condition.

Tips for Managing Pool Vehicles

The solution to the above problems is to put the right systems, policies, and processes in place.

Let's start with systems and the importance of fleet management software. Fleet management software is essential if you have a pool of vehicles whether you have 10 or hundreds. One of the reasons for this is fleet management software automates many of the processes involved in managing a fleet of pool vehicles. This frees up time to concentrate on things like reducing costs, improving efficiencies, and implementing policies and procedures (like those below).

Another reason fleet management software is important is visibility - you will know what is happening with your fleet of pool vehicles now, in 10 minutes, next week, or at any other time. In other words, the days of looking out the window to check if a suitable vehicle is in the car park will be over.

Here are some of the benefits that fleet management software (such as Smartrak's PoolCar Pool Booking software) can bring to your business if you have pool vehicles:

  • Automates the booking process - this is more efficient and accurate than paper-based systems that involve emails, spreadsheets, and significant staffing resources.
  • Automates logbook record keeping - fleet management software automatically records who is driving the vehicle, the time and date they take it, how long they drive it for, how many kilometres they do, and when they return it.
  • Generates automatic updates - you can setup fleet management software to automatically update based on time and/or geofence data. For example, you can automatically update the status of a vehicle to "available" when it enters a predefined geographical boundary and/or based on the booking time.
  • Improves real-time management - you will know if a vehicle has been taken at the booked time. In fact, you will know if the vehicle has been switched on or is moving. This lets you reallocate the vehicle with confidence if the booking is not used. In addition, you will know if a vehicle looks like it is going to be returned late enabling you to send a reminder to the driver.
  • Control costs - you will know exactly where the driver has taken the vehicle, how far they travelled, and how economically they drove. This will reduce employees using vehicles for non-business purposes, plus you can take steps to improve driver behaviour to reduce fuel costs and vehicle wear and tear.
  • Reduce risk - you can also use the driver monitoring capabilities of fleet management software to encourage drivers using pool vehicles to drive safely.
  • Create a culture of accountability - all the above will make the employees using pool vehicles more accountable which, in turn, will improve the treatment of the vehicles.

As a result of these benefits, fleet management software can increase the utilisation of your fleet of pool vehicles from the standard 50 percent range mentioned above to as much as 90 percent.

Policies and Procedures

As well as having the right systems in place, you should also ensure your policies and procedures are robust. If any don't yet exist, you should create them. Examples include:

  • Maintenance and servicing - outline who is responsible for maintenance and servicing, when it should occur, and how employees should report faults.
  • Approved vehicle use - explain clearly what is an acceptable use of a pool vehicle and what is not.
  • Accidents - explain what drivers of pool vehicles should do if involved in an accident.
  • Cleaning - outline the responsibilities employees have for keeping pool vehicles clean and returning them in a proper state.
  • Driving style - put policies, guidelines, and training programmes in place that help employees drive economically and safely
  • Fuel usage - outline whether the employee should return the vehicle with a full fuel tank and explain how to pay for fuel.

With the above advice, your fleet management will become more efficient and your pool vehicles more productive. The resulting savings to your business will be significant.

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