by Ashley Wilks
As a small-to-medium sized trucking company, running lean comes with the territory.
But, while there are inherent competitive advantages that the larger, more established carriers possess – resources and recognition being the most obvious –smaller fleets don’t have to compete at the same scale to “do like the big fleets do.”
In fact, smaller fleets looking to hire new drivers, expand into new routes, diversify carrier services and increase overall profitability should consider emulating certain big fleet fundamentals.
Here are 3 big fleet practices in particular that can help small fleets achieve operational efficiency and reduced costs.
1 – Structured Fleet Maintenance
It’s no mystery that a fleet’s success is heavily dependent on the health of their trucks, but for small fleets already operating on paper-thin margins, keeping trucks on the road for longer timeframes and repair costs to a minimum are especially critical.
A structured preventative maintenance plan with properly scheduled maintenance intervals and detailed records can be a small fleet’s best friend in:
- Predicting maintenance costs and minimizing downtime.
- Customizing maintenance schedules to the unique needs of each truck.
- Creating opportunities for better communication between maintenance and drivers to catch potential problems before they turn into costly repairs.
- Reducing costs impacted by truck performance and driver safety like insurance premiums.
2 – Benchmarking
Smaller fleets looking for an edge on competition need actionable insights just the same as big fleets do. The insights gained from data analysis can help fleets maximize the return on operational investments and get a clearer perspective on how to optimize fleet performance.
While larger fleets may have the resources to devote entire teams to analyzing performance data or developing big data infrastructure directly into their operations, smaller fleets can still tap into the power of benchmarking through access to newer technologies designed to “deliver the data” without necessarily breaking the bank.
A few ways benchmarking technologies can help a smaller fleet succeed:
- Capture more detailed information on each individual truck’s performance to help reduce the cost of ownership and mitigate the risk of potential downtime.
- Reduce manual data entry and management that can lead to increased risk for human error and cost.
- Achieve greater cost control over fuel purchasing through deeper insights into driver behavior, spending patterns and more.
3 – Cash Flow Solutions
For smaller trucking companies, opportunities to improve cash flow could be a game changer.
For example, smaller fleets can capitalize on the broader benefits that certain fuel cards offer to maximize purchasing control and fleet savings.
In addition to in-network savings at the pump, certain fuel card companies also offer discounts through merchant partners on everything from fleet maintenance and equipment to cell phone service and more.
When shopping for a fuel card partner, fleet owners will want to pay close attention to whether the fuel card provider offers access to Level III data, how large the fuel discount network is (i.e. how many sites offer fuel savings), and any transaction fees or other hidden costs.
To assist with payment delays and shore up gaps in available capital to keep fleet operations running smoothly, smaller fleets can also consider partnering with a factoring company.
A valuable factoring partner should not only offer benefits like assistance in negotiating better payment terms, credits checks and same-day funding, but also give fleet owners the peace of mind knowing that their factor is reliable and trustworthy.
For more in-depth insights on how smaller fleets can leverage big fleet fundamentals to navigate the challenges of operating a cash-flow positive trucking company, download our whitepaper – Think Big: Why Smaller Fleets Should Embrace These Big Fleet Practices.