“Please go easy on our trucks folks!”
This was the plea the president of a construction contractor company made at a recent project manager/superintendent meeting. Would you blame the man? Of course not.
Work trucks are expensive to buy or lease as well as maintain and they are one of most important investments you make in your contractor business. They serve you in multiple ways. Besides transporting you and your crew to a jobsite and hauling your tools, materials, and trailers, they also serve as portable offices, moving billboards, and material haulers. Sometimes, they serve as waste haulers, towing vehicles. Your work trucks serve you in these and many more ways—all while enduring grueling road wear.
RISE TO THE CHALLENGE
Your challenge is to maximize the reliability and functionality of your work trucks while minimizing costs and making the most of how your trucks can serve you and your business. Below are tips to help you meet these challenges.
Make a Powerful and Positive Statement—Buy Right—Wrap Right. Your work trucks should make a statement about you and your business. They should not only make you look successful but also promote your brand.
As in any business investment, money must be considered, as well as ROI. What to buy? There are a great deal of manufacturers and dealers to choose from. Ask yourself these questions before you buy: Where are most of your projects? What is the terrain like? How good are the roads? What do they haul? Do you live in a cold climate where road conditions can be hazardous? Your truck needs to be engineered for these things.
Who should you buy or lease from? The manufacturer? Dealer? A fleet management specialty company? The answer is simple: the place that gives you the best deal! Do your homework before you sign on the dotted line. Take into consideration the amount of money it will cost to run and maintain it and how long before it will pay for itself. Your accountant or CFO can determine what you can afford and whether it’s best to buy or lease.
Wrap Your Trucks With the Right Stuff. Your vehicles’ wraps should consist of awesome eye-catching graphics that turn peoples’ heads. Your logo, company name, a great tagline, and the city where your business is located should also be prominent. Your website address and phone number should be large enough so people can read them and jot them down quickly. Any marketing expert will tell you this is the right stuff to have on the wrap.
Compensate for Grueling Road Wear. Perform preventive maintenance a minimum of twice a year as mileage dictates. Replace the thermostat, service the brakes, and perform a tune-up if necessary. Better yet—do a 360-degree check-up. Check the tires often.
What Business Are You in? Consider Hiring Specialists. If you have a small fleet of five to 10 trucks and a highly competent mechanic and service your vehicles in-house, that’s great. It’s just that you are paying for an employee who is not performing construction work. You are in the contracting business, not the vehicle maintenance business.
If you have an outside vehicle repair or fleet expert you trust that’s also great, but doing so can take a great deal of time. If you have a fleet of 15 or more consider creating an in-house vehicle department, or obtaining outside help from a truck fleet management specialty firm.
Fleet management specialists are experts in the financial and operational side of your work trucks that can assist you in many areas. They can assist in purchasing, obtaining financing, vehicle tracking, diagnostics, driver management, and even health and safety management. They can help you to be more efficient. For example, some provide one bill for maintenance and one for fuel, rather than you or one of your employees having to tediously go through 50 different invoices. They can help you to reduce vehicle downtime and more.
Track Your Trucks’ Activity and Prevent Theft. Progressive construction contractors use state-of-the-art GPS technology to track all activity of their trucks. These systems are simple to install and provide real-time visible activity you can access from your Smartphone or computer. They record the location the truck has been to and the time of it. You can access this information to also evaluate your drivers’ driving habits, (including if they speed) access vehicle operation data, and much more.
Modern GPS technology can also provide valuable protections in the event of vehicle theft and recovery. You can set tracking alerts to monitor movement during both working and non-working hours. To keep an eye on your fleet even after the workday ends, set odd hours alerts to let management and drivers know if vehicles or assets are moving when they shouldn’t be.
Overall, a GPS system is a great productivity tool and can provide you with a new perspective on managing the productivity and performance of the driver and truck. One of the best reasons to use GPS technology is that it can provide you knowing where and how your vehicles are being used with peace of mind and can keep your drivers on their toes.
Direct Your Workers to Go Easy – But Be Firm and Specific. Regarding how the construction contractor company president asked his workers to go easy on the trucks—He’s a nice guy and asked nicely. Here’s a better way to have made an impact and one you might choose to do at your next meeting …
“Our work trucks take a beating. Obtaining and maintaining them is a huge expense for our company. Demonstrating respect for company property is not optional; it is mandatory.
Go easy on the gas pedal when you pull away from a stop sign. Avoid braking suddenly. Go over railroad tracks as smoothly as possible. Do your best to avoid potholes to avoid steering system misalignment, exhaust system damage, wear on shocks and struts, or a full tire puncture and bent rims.
Be careful when backing up to avoid damaging the bumper. Don’t run the truck to the point where the motor can overheat. When it’s freezing don’t start driving until the motor has a chance to warm up. A friendly reminder: There is a NO SMOKING policy when driving our trucks. I need everyone to do these things for me. Can I rely on you to do so?”
Most contractors know and do these things. If you are one of them, my question will be “How can I do even them better?” Continuous improvement in every area of business should be one of your core values.
About the author:
Christine Corelli is a conference speaker, workshop facilitator, and business columnist. She has worked with an abundance of construction contractor companies and been a featured speaker at industry associations. For more, visit www.christinespeaks.com. To contact her for an upcoming meeting, conference, or special event, call 847.477.7376.
Modern Contractor Solutions, February 2019
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