Table of Contents:
Fleet owners today face many unknowns, like dealing with driver shortages, controlling rising fuel costs, and preparing for a future dominated by autonomous vehicles. Given all the unknowns on the road ahead, planning a budget for an entire fleet can be challenging. It’s hard to know what to prioritize – but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible.
When it comes to fleet management, one question always demands an immediate answer: Are my vehicles compliant and ready to roll? In this article, we will review how effective fleet managers avoid mistakes, stay safe, and remain ready by budgeting for preventive fleet maintenance and DOT compliance.
Keeping fleets well-maintained and compliant with DOT regulations is an essential part of managing them successfully. Focusing on preventive maintenance ensures that vehicles are running smoothly and safely, helping to keep businesses streamlined in the long run. Do not underestimate the importance of these matters because mistakes can lead to unsafe situations, legal complications, and financial strain on the company.
It is not enough to know what the maintenance and DOT requirements are—you must also know how you will pay for them. We sat down with Stacy Conner, co-owner of Equipment Experts Inc and recipient of Drive’s “Masters of Shop Management” award, to discuss how the industry’s best practitioners handle budgeting for preventive maintenance and DOT compliance. Here are some key takeaways:
Stacy Conner says, “It all starts with your federal and state compliance laws. You have to understand them and consider them when you decide on your DOT compliance and preventive maintenance schedule. Make sure you are up to date on the requirements and understand them well. Always check the U.S. Department of Transportation for updates.”
Once you have complied all of the relevant federal and state regulations and have a clear picture of your compliance requirements, be sure to address them. We recommend writing down what you must do, and when you have to do it. Now is the time to start budgeting for preventive maintenance and repairs. Stacy advises, “You can pick a budgeting strategy according to the needs of your organization. Choose one and move forward with it. Always remember to prepare for the worst and hope for the best.”
Do not ignore necessary fleet maintenance and repairs just because you don’t have the cash to pay for them. This will lead to even bigger, more expensive problems. If cash flow is a concern, you can easily get bank financing for necessary repairs. “Do not stress if you can’t afford to finance the preventive maintenance and fleet repair out of your pocket. Reach out to your bank about financing options. There are numerous non-bank lending options, such as title loans and equipment lines of credit, as well. This way you don’t have to risk available cash,” Stacy counsels.
Once your budgeting strategy is in place, it is time to schedule your preventive maintenance and DOT inspections. For that, make sure all your fleet’s equipment is accounted for. Reading about how to effectively track every piece of equipment is a great way to start. If you have a large fleet, we recommend against performing all DOTs and preventive maintenance at one time. The reason for this is that it can get very expensive. “At Equipment Experts Inc, we recommend spreading repairs, DOTs, and even licensing, taking into consideration the size of the fleet. Ask yourself how often you should perform maintenance like inspecting equipment, changing oil and grease,” Stacy says. As a general rule of thumb, follow the preventive repair and maintenance schedule outlined below. Above all, always check your manufacturer’s guidelines.
In addition to these guidelines, always check your owner’s manual for any extra services you might have to perform. “And remember,” adds Stacy, “if your fleet is used seasonally, you need to prioritize your ability to deliver for that season. So, focus on developing a repair and compliance schedule that makes sense for your unique business.”
Stacy and our team at Equipment Experts are always ready to help fleet managers and owners resolve situations fast, offering superb fleet management services, 24/7 support, and reliable mobile repairs. Check out our other blogs for more tips on how to build and manage a successful fleet business.
Equipment Experts has been recognized by Drive as ‘Masters of Shop Management.’ We are dedicated to developing effective strategies for smooth fleet management. If our tips have been helpful for your fleet and business, we’d love to hear about it! You can also contact us to learn more about how Equipment Experts can help your fleet. Whatever the situation, we’re here to help. Call us at (253) 527-7125 or send a text to (253) 365-6591.