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Keeping Your Fleet Moving Forward During a Crisis 

With stay-at-home orders blanketing the U.S. and Canada for months now, many fleet professionals may be scratching their heads asking themselves: “Now, what?” 

Conferences and in-person meetings may be canceled but this mustn’t halt your focus on the strategic initiatives to drive your fleet forward, whether your drivers are grounded or not. Here are a few areas to focus on to help solidify the foundation of your fleet, while planning for the future in these uncertain times. 

Audit your contingency plans 

While some cities are showing a flattening of the curve in regards to COVID-19, now’s the time to make sure your emergency plans can withstand the long haul. Lean heavily on your fleet provider and your internal stakeholders to make sure you’re prepared for both best- and worst-case scenarios with the current pandemic and other possible disasters. 

A good outline for your emergency plans is to consider these five components: prevention, mitigation, preparedness, response and recovery. It’s how FEMA organizes their mission areas. For the crisis at hand, make sure you have a comprehensive plan for the current state and if the situation were to worsen over time. Then repeat the exercise for other potential events like hurricanes, economic downturns and winter storms. 

Forecast your acquisition needs 

With temporary plant closures and grounded fleets, vehicle acquisition is a complex topic. Some fleets need more vehicles because they’re transitioning personnel to corporate vehicles to facilitate social distancing during their daily commutes. Other fleets are reassessing orders in the wake of an economic downturn.  

Whatever your situation, get a good handle on your inventory so you’re ahead of the game once businesses return to normal. Forecasting your acquisition needs now will ensure you’re in the front of the line once auto plants resume production. 

Cross off your to-do lists 

Although our priorities have shifted to swiftly tackling the challenges that COVID-19 has brought about, some fleet offices may have some time on their hands. What have you put aside that you now have time for?  

Here are some ideas: 

  • Review your fleet policy: Make sure it has comprehensive sections on foundational fleet elements like safety. Yet, also be sure to include sections that have new impacts to fleets like legalized drugs, conceal-and-carry laws, personal gain from ridesharing, data privacy and new forms of mobility. 
  • Data cleansing and review: Fleets generate lots of data. If you have don’t have a centralized system, you likely have a variety of data sources. If possible, input data from suppliers into your main fleet management platform to ensure you have a holistic view of your data.  
  • Complete fleet education courses: We all know continuous education is important, yet we don’t always have the time to take an online course. If you have time to spare, take some foundational fleet courses or an emerging fleet topic like fleet connectivity. 
  • Assign drivers online safety training: Behind-the-wheel training may be postponed but there are online simulators and other web-based resources that will help drivers practice all the rules of the road. 

Lean on your resources 

Lastly, in this time of uncertainty turn to your fleet provider for guidance. They should be proactive in their communications to yourself and drivers. Their own contingency plans should be fully deployed and at the ready to respond, as appropriate. What are they hearing in their calls with auto makers, DMVs and other supplier partners? How are they planning for your fleet’s future as your needs evolve? It’s paramount that they’re diligently working on your behalf to help steer your fleet during this unprecedented time. 

What strategic tasks have you crossed off your to-do list? Let me know at srajapakse@wheels.com