7 Best Practices for Fleet Management

Nov. 19, 2018
Are you maximizing the value from your fleet of service vehicles while minimizing your legal liability?

Are you maximizing the value from your fleet of service vehicles while minimizing your legal liability?  These seven best practices will help your trucks work better for you.

1. Recognize a Truck’s Dual Purpose

One purpose of a service truck is to deliver a trained plumber and the materials needed to perform a repair to the customer. The second purpose is to market the company, which means the truck needs a well-designed vehicle wrap. Too many plumbers fail to recognize the advertising opportunity provided by their vehicles.

According to the Outdoor Advertising Association of America, your trucks will receive anywhere from 30 to 70 thousand advertising impressions a day. Ninety-one percent of consumers recalled a number of details about wrapped trucks that they saw several times over the course of a week. Even if the statistics are wildly overstated, that’s still millions of impressions a year.

The advertising impact is also reason enough to invest more for a high cube vehicle. Rather than look for ways to economize with smaller vehicles, look for ways to stand tall with larger ones. It will pay off.

2. Remember, Vehicles Have Five Visible Sides

Few companies take advantage of the roof. Yet, the roof of a vehicle is visible out of any second story building or at the top of any small rise. Even if ladders and pipes obscure the roof, they don’t completely cover it. Plus, when ladders are removed, the roof becomes visible. The simple fact that few companies wrap the roofs of vehicles makes it a powerful advertising opportunity. It stands out.

3. Park to be Seen

Most consultants and franchisors teach plumbers to park on the street where the truck is visible over the plumber’s shoulder as the homeowner answers the door. There are two problems with this. First, the truck is large and blocks the road, creating a safety problem for other cars and children riding bicycles. Second, is minimizes visibility of the vehicle wrap. It’s visible across the street, but not down the street.

Instead, park at the end of the driveway, perpendicular to traffic and explain to the homeowner that you parked at the end of the drive for safety reasons. Ask if it’s okay to leave it there or if the homeowner would rather it be move on to the street. Most homeowners will grant permission to leave the truck in place. If not, simply move it.

4. Keep It Operational

Everyone knows that regular maintenance is the key to longevity and breakdown prevention. Create maintenance logs for each vehicle. It’s even better if you can track mileage from the shop with GPS (and everyone plumbing company should deploy GPS). Perform regular maintenance at vehicle manufacturer recommended intervals, if not sooner.

Create inspection checklists and pick one plumber a week for a truck inspection at the end of a service meeting. Hand the plumber cash in the form of a one dollar bill for each inspection item. If he fails one, he gives you a dollar. Whatever is left at the end of an inspection is his to keep.

5. Plan to Replace

Conduct a lease versus buy analysis whenever it is time to replace a truck. Tax laws change regularly and your accountant should help you find the best financial approach. Regardless of whether you lease or buy, determine in advance when you want to replace each vehicle and stick to the replacement schedule. The technology in motor vehicles is changing rapidly. Each year, trucks become safer due to technological innovations.

6. Protect Yourself

Consider placing ownership of the trucks under a separate limited liability corporation to shield your business from liability if a truck is involved in an accident. Consult with an attorney to set up this asset protection strategy.

In addition to legal structures, consider adding dash cams. These can protect you in the case of accidents and even help your plumbers defend against some traffic tickets.

If you provide your plumbers with mobile phones, apps are available for blocking texting when the vehicle is in motion. Studies have shown that texting while driving can be every bit as dangerous as driving under the influence.

7. Use Uber for Parts

When you need parts on a job, do not send your plumber or a parts runner to a wholesaler. Call an Uber to pick it up and drop it off at the job. The cost of an Uber is dramatically less than the labor cost alone of sending someone to get a part. Most wholesalers will cooperate. If not, find a different one who will.

For more best practices, including best buying practices, join the Service Roundtable. It’s only $50 per month. Learn more at or call 877/262-3341. Mention this column and ask for a first month special of $10.

About the Author

Matt Michel | Chief Executive Officer

Matt Michel was a co-founder and CEO of the Service Roundtable ( The Service Roundtable is an organization founded to help contractors improve their sales, marketing, operations, and profitability. The Service Nation Alliance is a part of this overall organization. Matt was inducted into the Contracting Business HVAC Hall of Fame in 2015. He is now an author and rancher.