If you’re new to managing a commercial fleet or looking into getting into the game, there is going to be a lot on your plate. From maintaining your commercial fleet insurance to the logistics of managing a host of vehicles, your hands will be full. At the same time, running a fleet means being able to meet the transportation needs of your company, employees, or products.
No matter where you are in your fleet-managing journey, here are the three things your fleet needs to have:
1. A Plan To Grow Your Fleet
When companies want to establish a fleet, they need a plan on how to get there. Typically, businesses can either buy or lease their vehicles. Each of these options has its pros and cons. You should weigh your options before making any significant decisions about getting your fleet.
At the same time, it is possible to simply purchase enough vehicles over time that you just qualify as a fleet. Even in this scenario, business owners should be aware of the rules and make sure they are fully prepared.
In California, a company is considered to have an official fleet when it meets either of the following benchmarks:
- Has 15 or more vehicles registered under the company’s name, or
- Purchases five company vehicles within a single year
Once you establish that your company has a fleet, you’ll get your fleet number. This number is required to be displayed on all of your company’s vehicles.
Buy Vs. Lease
The age-old question of whether it’s better to buy or lease really depends on your goals, abilities, and needs. You can even meet the official requirements for having a fleet by mixing both owned and leased vehicles so long as they’re registered under the company’s name.
Leasing is a great way to keep up with the latest models, newest technologies, and get access to a variety of tax advantages. For example, you can often deduct your entire lease payment on your business’s taxes or simply claim depreciation.
At the same time, having a lease means being careful not to damage the vehicle or to go over the allotted mileage amount. Making these little mistakes can lead to high costs when the lease is over. You may also be required to carry higher levels of commercial fleet insurance by your truck insurance company.
Buying your fleet vehicles gives your company more control over its assets. This can add to your company’s overall resources and improve the speed at which you respond to transportation needs. But with great power comes great responsibility: you are fully responsible for any maintenance and repairs to your fleet, which can be quite costly. Once you pay off the vehicle, however, there will be no more payments to make outside of regular upkeep.
2. Hiring and Training Drivers
Your fleet employees are the men and women who will actually handle your fleet vehicles. Whether you contract truckers to operate your semis or hire hourly delivery drivers, you’ll want to have a solid team at your disposal.
The exact qualifications and characteristics of your perfect driver will vary depending on the equipment you use and the scope of the job. For example, truck insurance companies won’t be happy if you hire someone without a CDL to handle one of your big rigs. Here are some other qualifications you should consider:
- Valid driver’s license with the appropriate class requirements, such as truck, bus, limonene, etc.
- Mentally and physically capable of handling your specific type of vehicle
- A clean driving record and experience. This is a great way to reduce the cost of your commercial fleet insurance.
- References from previous employers that you can contact and verify
- Can pass a drug and alcohol screening
A Time to Train
It’s crucial that your company offers regular training programs geared towards keeping drivers safe and efficient. Fleet drivers are on the road much longer than regular drivers, so it’s imperative that they remain focused, especially if they lack experience.
A good training program will remind drivers of the dangers associated with being on the road, like the dangers of fatigued, aggressive, and distracted driving. These training sessions can also provide updates on laws, policies, and other crucial information to be effective behind the wheel.
3. Commercial Fleet Insurance
Just like you are required to have insurance on your personal vehicle, business vehicles are required to carry commercial insurance. Unlike your personal insurance, though, fleet vehicles can be part of a single plan. Before establishing your company’s fleet, you would have a policy for every car, truck, and van that your company owns. As you can imagine, this can get complicated with different policies, due dates, coverages, etc.
But once your fleet is established, you can combine all of your company’s vehicles onto one, single policy. You’ll still have access to all of the different kinds of coverage available from your truck insurance company AND it will ultimately be easier to manage.
Contrary to popular belief, fleet vehicles don’t all have to be the same type or used for the same purpose. A company could have several semi-trucks for hauling cargo along with company cars for employees to drive. While some fleets might be made up of similar styles of vehicles, you’ll always have the freedom to build the exact kind of fleet your company needs.
Keep Your Prices Low
Insurance companies are in the business of assessing risk. Those with lower risks will get lower prices while higher-risk operations will pay more. To keep your costs down, focus on making your fleet as low risk as possible. It’s not feasible to remove all risk, but anything that brings down your premium is at its best.
Here are some factors commercial and truck insurance companies will consider when generating your quote:
- How many vehicles are in your fleet?
- What types of vehicles are in the fleet?
- What is the purpose of your business?
- Do you lease or own your vehicles, or is it a mixture?
- What is your company’s safety and inspection history?
- What kind of cargo, if any, do you haul?
Frequently Asked Questions:
Why is a proper fleet maintenance program essential for a successful fleet?
A proper fleet maintenance program is essential to ensure the safety, reliability, and efficiency of your vehicles. Regular maintenance helps reduce the likelihood of breakdowns, extend the lifespan of your vehicles, lower operating costs, and improve overall fleet performance.
How can implementing a telematics system benefit your fleet?
Implementing a telematics system can benefit your fleet by providing real-time data on vehicle locations, driver behavior, and vehicle diagnostics. This information can help you optimize routes, enhance driver safety, reduce fuel consumption, and streamline maintenance scheduling, ultimately improving overall fleet efficiency and productivity.
Why is a comprehensive driver training and safety program important for a fleet?
A comprehensive driver training and safety program is crucial for reducing the risk of accidents, maintaining compliance with industry regulations, and promoting a safety-focused culture within your organization. Well-trained drivers are more likely to operate vehicles efficiently, adhere to safety protocols, and contribute to a positive company reputation.
How can effective communication and collaboration tools improve your fleet management?
Effective communication and collaboration tools can enhance fleet management by enabling real-time information sharing between drivers, dispatchers, and fleet managers. This can help coordinate tasks, address issues quickly, and ensure everyone is working toward the same goals. Efficient communication can also contribute to improved customer satisfaction and better overall business performance.
How important is it for a fleet to have a contingency plan in place?
Having a contingency plan in place is vital for a fleet to ensure business continuity in the face of unexpected events or disruptions. A well-prepared contingency plan can help your fleet mitigate the impact of unforeseen circumstances, such as natural disasters, equipment failures, or supply chain disruptions, and ensure a rapid and effective response to minimize potential downtime and losses.
Protecting your fleet extends beyond the three essentials it needs to have. Expand your knowledge on safeguarding your investment by understanding truck service maintenance intervals in our informative guide.
Get a Quote Today
Whether you are getting ready to hit the fleet threshold or are simply looking for the best commercial fleet options in town, make sure to call SoCal Trucking Insurance. We provide all of the coverages your business needs to not only stay protected but to thrive. From individual policies to commercial fleet insurance, our team is here to help you discover and explore all of your options. Give us a call today and get your free quote for the cheapest and most effective commercial trucking insurance available.