By Dean Burgess
Pivoting to delivery and at-home services kept your business afloat through the coronavirus pandemic. But now that business is gradually returning to normal, you’re wondering what to do with your new vehicle fleet.
If your business established or expanded its vehicle fleet in response to COVID-19, here are five ways you can keep your fleet profitable after the pandemic ends.
Continue to offer delivery
The demand for delivery and at-home services won’t end when the pandemic ends. Despite a return to a sense of normal, many consumers will hold onto the shopping habits they established while stay-at-home orders were in place.
Continuing delivery services allows businesses to keep serving customers who aren’t yet comfortable shopping in public. However, the more channels a business uses to serve customers, the more complicated managing inventory becomes. To ensure that you’re able to service customers on-site and off, employ an inventory management system with multi-channel capabilities.
Expand delivery offerings
Continuing delivery may prove inefficient for businesses with limited product offerings. Rather than abandon delivery and let fleet vehicles sit idle, businesses can add new products that are in demand with delivery customers. A medication delivery service could cross-sell over-the-counter medical supplies, for example, or a meal delivery service could let customers add pantry staples to their order. Just be sure to update your website’s keywords to reflect new products so customers can easily find your business online.
While this strategy lets businesses increase the average order value, it also adds complexities to the supply chain. To ensure add-on products help, not hurt, a company’s reputation, supply chain managers should implement quality control standards before establishing relationships with suppliers and use warehouse management software to monitor, manage, and track shipments.
Set up a motor pool
Motor pools are one way that companies can increase fleet utilization. By making fleet vehicles available to all users, rather than dedicating vehicles to specific departments, it’s possible to reduce idle time and maximize your fleet investment.
Motor pools are logistically complicated, however. In order for a motor pool to be effective, businesses need to choose vehicles with maximum utility and ensure there are enough vehicles to meet demand. Businesses also need an efficient way to manage fleets. An automated key system eliminates the need for an on-site attendant while making it easy to monitor fleet usage, and software for scheduling your employee shifts streamlines communication and clarifies expectations. Keep in mind, however, that even with an automated system, it’s still critical to inspect vehicles after each use.
Share your fleet
Companies that lack the internal demand for a motor pool can look outside their business to keep a fleet running. By making fleet vehicles available to employees outside of business hours or even to other businesses and the general public, companies can turn their fleet vehicles into a secondary revenue stream. However, businesses that take the car-sharing route must work with insurers to ensure they’re protected in the event of an accident.
Keep vehicles in good condition
Finally, regular maintenance is the most important step businesses can take to protect their fleet investment. A fleet service can handle all your fleet maintenance and repair needs which will save money by improving fuel efficiency and preventing breakdowns and the resulting downtime. Maintenance is also critical for the safety of fleet users.
Businesses should utilize a preventive maintenance schedule to keep fleet vehicles in good repair, and create a system where drivers can easily report problems. While it’s possible to maintain small fleets manually, larger fleets benefit from fleet management software that recommends maintenance schedules based on usage and driving conditions.
Don’t let your vehicle fleet become a burden for your business. Instead of letting a fleet sit idle, look for ways to increase fleet utilization and profitability. With the right strategies, you can keep your company’s fleet running long after the pandemic passes.
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