It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Everything is busier as the year comes to a close; from retail to finance and everything in between, each industry is experiencing some type of uptick.
Fleet management is no exception; in fact, the industry plans for this season all year! Pre-planning is a must to ensure a successful season and to be ready for the unexpected. Weather, illness, and fluctuations in needs can all bring about last-minute surprises, so fleet managers must be ready. While these changes may come on short notice, they’re expected every year, so there are ways to prepare in advance.
In this Seasonal Fleet Operations Guide, we’ll cover various aspects such as changes in weather conditions and how to prepare for them, managing increased demand during peak seasons, ensuring driver safety during harsh conditions, and strategies to maintain fleet efficiency despite seasonal challenges.
Keep reading for tips and strategies to help fleet managers through the holiday season. We’ll guide you through optimizing your strategies with best practices to manage fleets during this time of year when demand and operational dynamics could change at a moment’s notice.
Understanding the Challenges of Fleet Management During the Holidays
The holiday season presents unique challenges faced by fleet managers during the holiday season. Here are the two most common to accommodate.
Schedules can present all types of challenges. From drivers taking time off for the holidays to unexpected days off due to illness, time off can affect the schedule. Not to mention an increase in demand, requiring more holiday hours.
Throughout the country, weather tends to be an issue. Snow, ice, and freezing temperatures each present unique challenges for fleet drivers and vehicles.
Top Holiday Strategies for Fleet Managers
To combat these primary challenges, fleet managers will want to take several things into consideration. The key is to plan as far in advance as possible, taking changes from normal operations into account. These strategies can help make the holiday season go smoothly.
Maintenance should be conducted routinely throughout the year as a standard best practice, and should be timed to be conducted ahead of the winter weather. Checking the lights throughout the vehicle both inside and outside, the brakes, shocks, windshield, engine, and more can identify potential issues and address them before the vehicle is out on the road during peak times. This can prevent accidents and breakdowns, resulting in delays and even injury.
With the holidays, many employees will want to enjoy some time off with their families. Plan the schedule in advance and determine which team members would like which days off, and make the best attempt to stagger vacations. Ensure the fleet will have enough team members working, and rotate holiday time off among employees to ensure that even if someone doesn’t get their desired time off this year, they will have next year to look forward to.
Don’t forget to account for unexpected time off due to sick fleet team members. Illness can crop up any time and is especially common during this time of year. Add a buffer into your schedule — whether that’s adding team members during this peak season or adding time onto fleet route schedules to account for fewer team members picking up more work — to account for unanticipated changes.
Fleet Training and Communication
Prepare your team for winter weather ahead of sending them out on the road. Provide training materials that address the challenges they may face, including winter weather, increased traffic, and heavier workloads than usual.
Ensure employee communication throughout the process. Whether it’s during the training or while they’re out on the road, keeping in touch with your fleet is crucial to safety and success. Encourage them to report issues immediately.
Winter weather can change your normal routes. Ice, snow, road closures, and even increased traffic can all slow down driving patterns, so make sure alternate routes are identified and selected when necessary. Route planning software can help with this in real time so drivers can easily make the switch when driving around and avoid delays.
Use telematics and fleet management software to track your fleet in real time, and account for items such as:
- GPS tracking
- Scheduled maintenance
- Route tracking
- Asset tracking
- Sustainability tracking
These monitors can help aid in optimizing your fleet’s routes, fuel efficiency, reduce breakdowns and provide data for future planning and cost savings.
Emergency Weather Preparation
Winter weather often brings harsh conditions, including snow and ice on the road. Snowfall can result in heavy traffic, delays, accidents, difficult road conditions, and low visibility. Stay informed on weather forecasts and equip vehicles with a winter emergency kit, including snow chains, a de-icing kit, and portable warming devices. Encourage all employees to have hats, gloves, boots, scarves, and a small shovel on hand.
Develop an emergency plan process for employees to follow so they know what to do in case of an emergency.
Wellness includes more than physical well-being. The holidays are a stressful time, and for many, can be difficult. Offer flexibility and check in on your staff. Provide a sense of camaraderie through holiday bonuses, a holiday party, or some other form of appreciation to boost morale. Acknowledgment can go a long way during this time.
Making the Most of Your Fleet This Holiday Season
During the holiday rush, it’s especially important to optimize fleet operations. Effective holiday strategies for fleet managers are important year-round, but especially during peak times.
Keep in mind these fleet management holiday tips, including scheduling vehicle maintenance before the holiday rush, planning routes ahead of time to account for increased traffic or weather conditions, ensuring that fleet vehicles are equipped with necessary safety equipment, and maintaining clear and frequent communication with drivers.For help with tracking your fleet, learn what Azuga can offer. Contact us today!