Any company that gives its employees access to vehicles for working and transporting goods should be cautious about how they mobilize and store their fleet, as company vehicles are obviously costly assets that also present significant liability concerns. As a business owner or manager, your primary concern in the transportation department should be ensuring the continuous safety of the fleet. Achieving this will typically involve ongoing automotive care, employee screening, comprehensive insurance coverage, scheduled maintenance, and a bit of common sense.
It goes without saying that you don’t want to be sending your workforce out into the field company driving vehicles that aren’t impressive. For advertising purposes, you’ll want your fleet to be top-notch, so you’ll probably wind up leasing or buying relatively newer models with high price tags. Given the size of the investment involved in purchasing and caring for a fleet of company vehicles, it would be wise to heed the following seven fleet protection tips.
#1. Use Body Kits and Side Steps for Extra Cosmetic Protection
Even if you have insurance, having to repair seemingly minor cosmetic damage can render a vehicle unusable for weeks, and if you have to pay out of your own pocket you’re looking at a loss of hundreds to thousands of dollars. Plus, if the damage is extensive enough you might be required by law to register the vehicle with a salvage title, which would instantly lower its value in the event you decide to resell or trade it later on.
Thus, protecting the vehicle from cosmetic damage is paramount, and one of the best ways to drastically reduce the amount of effort needed to repair a fender bender is to install durable body kits that can easily be removed or replaced if necessary. Also, wide F-150 side steps not only provide easier access for entering in and out of the truck, they prevent paint scrapes and dings because there’s a lower likelihood of a driver whacking the truck with their boots while stepping in.
#2. Use Tracking Technology to Record Location
Ideally, you’ll want to be able to see where your vehicles have been throughout the day, to ensure that your drivers aren’t visiting inappropriate places during work hours or slacking on the job. Unauthorized use of company vehicles is grounds for termination, as it can create serious liability and reputation risks, as well as the possibility of theft for vandalism.
In the rare chance a company vehicle is stolen, it’s incredibly helpful to be able to see where it’s at so that the authorities can apprehend the suspects and reclaim your company’s property. Aside from that, with remote GPS tracking capabilities built into your fleet you’ll be able to track and analyze employee drive times and performance.
#3. Install Remote Disable and Unlock Features
Of course, merely being able to track a vehicle doesn’t mean you can physically stop someone from going outside of their shift boundaries or deter a thief who is in the act of driving it out of state. Unfortunately, some criminals are smart enough to remove tracking devices from vehicles. Thus, as an extra backup for the utmost protection, it would be best to install a remote disable and unlock system to make it easier for the authorities to locate the vehicle. The unlock feature is also helpful for regaining access to the vehicle if all of its keys are lost.
#4. Conduct Thorough Screening on All Drivers
It’s absolutely imperative that you perform a detailed background check on every prospective driver before hiring them and entrusting them with company vehicles. You’ll want to see if they’ve had any accidents in the past or have shown signs of irresponsible behavior with their own vehicles or belongings. Use your discretion to decide if someone is a good fit for the job.
#5. Use a Fleet Tracking App
Beyond using standard GPS tracking functionality, consider making it a requirement for all of your driving employees to install a fleet tracking app on their devices. That way you’ll be able to see the exact routes of each individual driver at any given time, and you’ll be able to see stats about the distance traveled, gas used, and other helpful insights. Of course, if you wanted to conduct more research on the matter you could easily find at least a dozen additional benefits provided by GPS fleet tracking apps.
#6. Ensure Premium Insurance Coverage
As you’d expect, you’re going to need insurance for all of the vehicles. Luckily, you can get group packages that are cheaper on a per-policy basis than the single plans you’d get for a personal driver. However, for maximum protection you won’t want to settle for the minimum coverage. Instead, opt for comprehensive plans that will cover the cost of repairs and losses in the most common scenarios. Speak to an agent at your insurance company about which option will provide the most protection.
#7. Schedule Routine Inspections and Maintenance
One of the biggest causes of vehicle damage is failure to perform routine maintenance and part replacement procedures. Naturally, things like tires, seals, gaskets, valves, switches, knobs, pumps, and almost all other moving components eventually wear down over time and will needed to be repaired or replaced. Changing the oil according to the manufacturers recommended intervals and having scheduled tune-ups and brake changes done are other steps that should be taken.
Hiring the Right People is the Most Important Step
In closing, we should reiterate just how important it is for a business to take every possible precaution and preliminary measure before hiring an employee that will have the privilege of driving company vehicles. There have been cases of drivers crashing, stealing, displaying acts of road rage, and violating company policies despite having clean driving and criminal records. There’s always a first time for everything, so even if they have a squeaky clean record it’s still important to examine their other attributes and credentials for the sake of choosing someone based on an informed decision rather than just accepting anyone who walks through the door with a driver’s license.