Every HVACR company depends on a fleet of vehicles that help move equipment and workers between client buildings and the business’ home base.
As a business grows, coordinating an increasingly large service vehicle fleet can become a challenge — even for those with experience with this process.
Fortunately, with the right combination of technology and best practices, it’s possible to manage a fleet efficiently — reducing gas costs and cutting down on maintenance while still delivering high-quality service to customers.
These five strategies are some of the best ways to successfully manage an HVACR vehicle fleet.
Fleet Management Software
Using the right software can help streamline fleet management. There’s a wide range of platforms available. These tools can help business leaders keep track of essential information about their vehicle fleet — like current location, service history and any repairs that may be necessary soon.
The technology is also essential for owners or managers who want to keep track of metrics related to their fleet.
With the right tool, you can track assets — both vehicles and equipment — warranty information and maintenance status, giving you a view of your fleet’s health at a glance.
Some tools also provide route and scheduling optimization features, which are good for businesses that have struggled to coordinate their fleet or ensure drivers arrive at jobs on time. These route planning tools draw on a combination of data — including traffic info, local laws and even weather data — to help you create optimal routes for your drivers.
Training Programs for Drivers
Driver training is one of the best ways to ensure road safety, keep vehicles in good condition and collect all the data necessary to correctly manage a fleet.
Before a new employee goes out on the road, they should undergo a basic training program. This program should ensure they have all licenses needed to operate the particular vehicle they’re driving — like a Class B CDL license or similar certification. Training will also ensure that they know how to log their miles, report issues with a vehicle or handle common maintenance problems that may arise while driving.
For HVACR companies, training programs typically address a few common problems. Safe and efficient equipment storage, for example, can help prevent damage to equipment or injury.
Training is necessary for employees to know how to securely store tools, tanks and other equipment — as well as which pieces of equipment are most dangerous if mishandled.
This training is especially important for drivers who will transport, store or regularly handle potentially dangerous equipment, like oxy-acetylene tanks or refrigerant cylinders.
Training programs also help ensure drivers are familiar with all local commercial vehicle regulations. For example, in many cities, anti-idling laws mean drivers may get a ticket if they leave their vehicle idling. Awareness of these laws will help reduce the risk of idling incidents, potentially saving time and money.
Defined Goals and Guidelines
Setting clear goals, guidelines and standards across a company is an excellent way to smooth the fleet management process.
For instance, purchasing standards can help ensure a more uniform fleet that’s easier to maintain.
Van organization guidelines can help ensure drivers find what they’re looking for, even if they’re not in their usual vehicle. Most vans have a shelving or organization system that allows drivers to store necessary tools and equipment — like pliers, pumps, refrigerant gauges, scales and thermometer screwdrivers.
Requiring drivers to label van shelving or storage or organizing equipment in a specific way can ensure workers know where to find everything — and that each vehicle has all the tools needed for most HVACR repair work.
Company-wide safety protocols can also make driving safer and reduce the risk of accidents. For example, safe storage protocols can provide a defined process for drivers and workers who regularly transport and store potentially dangerous equipment. Over time, this can help business leaders cut down overall operating costs and potentially reduce vehicle insurance premiums.
Measure the Right Metrics
When managing your fleet, data is one of the best resources available. The right information can paint a picture of where a company is spending the most money, or where it may be underusing resources.
Trying to measure everything, however, may lead to an overwhelming volume of data. It’s also possible to build a dataset of patchy and incomplete information that’s not particularly useful.
Measuring the right metrics can help owners and managers answer essential questions about their business.
For example, they can measure asset use, which represents how often each vehicle in the fleet is on the road or at a job. This metric can help business leaders discover underused vans or trucks that are costing extra money in storage space or maintenance.
Other vehicle fleet metrics include accident rate, customers serviced and total lifecycle costs. These measurements help identify and manage high-cost vehicles.
Inventory and asset tracking metrics can also be especially useful for HVACR fleet managers. If you’re regularly dealing with inventory loss or damage, fleet or inventory management software can identify the circumstances under which your inventory tends to get lost or damaged.
This may help you pinpoint employees, vehicles or types of jobs associated with inventory loss and damage.
The right approach to maintenance can help keep repair costs low and vehicles running for longer.
With a preventive maintenance plan, business owners take proactive steps to ensure their vehicles stay in good working condition. Rather than waiting for problems to emerge — a check engine light, a broken windshield wiper — they regularly schedule checkups with a technician, who thoroughly inspects each vehicle for issues.
This practice can help keep vehicles working well for longer and may prevent more severe issues. While preventive maintenance may require some upfront spending, it helps drive down overall maintenance costs by allowing HVACR managers to avoid significant issues and preventing sudden, unexpected downtime.
Simple adjustments to vehicle fleet management processes can help HVACR business owners cut down costs and make life easier for their team.
Organization standards, fleet management software and a training program are all excellent ways to simplify vehicle management and identify underperforming vehicles or areas where companies aren’t getting their money’s worth.