Most van fleet operators have a range of responsibilities; they are expected to know about transport management, health and safety, legal and financial issues.
It’s a daunting task. But one of the main areas of concern for a fleet manager is getting the best from employees who drive.
There are two ways to encourage staff to shine – the carrot and the stick.
The secret of success is knowing exactly how to use them and striking the right balance of incentive and the risk of disciplinary action.
Driver behaviour can be monitored accurately and managed by electronic equipment installed in the vehicle and if adopted in the right way drivers can be managed without being alienated.
There are any number of devices on the market now which will both keep an eye on staff while they are on the road and gently guide them towards more efficient, cost-effective motoring.
But all the experts agree – it is imperative that before you start plugging all sorts of gizmos into your vans, you should get your team together and explain why you are doing it and the benefits for them as well as for the company.
If drivers don’t get some kind of reward, they are unlikely to be as enthusiastic as you are.
Some fleet operators have had considerable success which has helped to reduce fuel costs as well as cut the risk of unnecessary wear and tear on vehicles.
Monthly competitions between drivers with a price for the best fuel consumption, the best kept van or fewest accidents or parking fines can prove surprisingly effective, and often negate the need to take action to combat undesirable behaviour through dialogue with line managers and HR departments.
The cost of a modest prize such as a weekend break or dinner at an expensive restauraunt could easily be offset by the savings in fuel costs, lower maintenance bills and potential downtime for vehicles off the road for repairs across the whole van fleet.
However, in some cases it is necessary to pursue formal disciplinary measures with repeat offenders, or those who commit a serious offence.
The obvious place to start improving drivers is to send them on driver training courses, although the experts disagree on how successful this is.
Dr Will Murray, research director at Interactive Driving Systems, says: “Based on research and experience there are no silver bullets in driver management. What is key is effective management and leadership by example.
“The culture varies, but in all the best cases of fleet management there has been an appropriate mix of competence and consequence.