The Art of Juggling: Tips to Help Landscaping Fleet Managers Make the Most of Their Day
Egypt. The home of the great pyramids, hieroglyphics, pharaohs, mummies (no, not the Halloween variety), King Tut and Cleopatra. While all of these are familiar to us (thanks, National Geographic), what may not ring a bell is this little tidbit: the oldest juggling event on record is illustrated inside the walls of a tomb of an Egyptian prince built between 1994 and 1781 B.C.
While the actual act of juggling – balls, bowling pins…chainsaws – is not new, it doesn’t mean that the skill has gotten easier over time. Especially if you’re a fleet manager. At a landscaping company. With a fleet of drivers. And a growing list of jobs to complete. So how do you become a pro at juggling everything that gets thrown at you during the day? Check out a few tips to help please the masses…
Their needs are simple – they want great service at an even better price. Oh, and they want your crew to show up at consistent times to perform the services you quoted them for. Easy peasy, right? Right. Delivering the great customer service your company is known for is completely controllable and easily something your fleet can master with just a few pieces of information.
Before each crew leaves the shop, make sure they have all the details they need for each job. That includes the arrival time the customer expects, the frequency and duration of the job, the route to take to avoid construction or traffic jams and what services they are to provide while on site. We’re sure your customer service reps don’t want a call where your crew arrived late only to weed-whack the homeowner’s prized hydrangea bush to smithereens.
Whether you have one-man or three-man trucks, knowing who is where and doing what will set you on the path to obtaining visibility into your fleet…which is an absolutely necessity in your line of work. If you haven’t already, try implementing a telematics solution that offers driver-centric results.
By implementing a vehicle tracking solution on all the trucks in your fleet, you can see who is speeding, making hair pin turns or stepping on the gas a little harder than they should. Visibility also provides insight into when your company vehicles are being used for unauthorized, after-hours use as well as where each driver is at any given time of the day. Having driver-specific information at your fingertips helps you to turn reprimands into coachable moments and create best practices your entire fleet can follow.
Top soil. Equipment parts. Plant food. Weed killers. Fountain pumps. You probably have a vendor for every single piece of equipment and inventory in the shop which means you likely get several phone calls, emails or visits from each supplier. Whether they are just checking in or trying to sell you the latest and greatest product, unexpected communications can really throw off your entire day.
Before you leave each night, take 15 minutes to plan out the next day. Write down your ‘must do’ tasks and carve out some time in the morning to start on that ‘to-do’ list. Also, be sure to carve out some time on your calendar which is reserved for anything that randomly pops up – like visits from your vendors. That way, when you find yourself face-to-face with a supplier, you can have a relaxed, enjoyable conversation free of any distractions or stress.
Ah, the big cheese. Your commander in chief likely has just as much on his plate and leans on you to help manage everything fleet-related. Since your main goal is keeping your boss happy while assuming that the fleet is running smoothly and efficiently, being proactive is key. Sit down with your boss and determine what to focus on when it comes to improving fleet operations. Here are a few suggestions to get you started:
•Reducing fuel costs by monitoring idling and speeding
•Increasing productivity to get more jobs done without extending the work day
•Tracking all company-owned assets & creating theft prevention and recovery processes
•Reducing unauthorized or after-hours vehicle usage
•Cutting overtime costs & preventing time sheet fraud
•Creating driver-centric safety programs
•Developing training programs for new drivers & continuing education opportunities for existing crew members
Grab a few of these “asks” and prioritize them along with assigning timelines and due dates to each. This will help you both stay on track and know what to focus on in the near future as well as the long term.
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