While consumers are enjoying the holiday season, flocking to malls and taking to the roads, many fleet managers and their companies’ fleets may be experiencing seasonal challenges due to increases in traffic, inclement weather, and other factors.
Over the past couple of years, data shows that December fleet vehicle usage sees a fairly large increase, and that trend is expected to continue, according to Bernie Kavanagh, SVP and general manager for North American Large Fleet for WEX.
Taken together, this can make “surviving” the holiday season particularly stressful for fleet managers and company drivers, but there are steps that fleet managers can take to meet these challenges head on.
Kavanagh said that the key to surviving the holiday season is tearing a page from the Boy Scout manual and be prepared, along with being nimble.
“Being prepared is crucial to get you through any kind of hectic time, be it a holiday or a storm or some other unforeseen or stressful event, but you also have to have that flexibility built into your day so that you can handle those things that come at you that are unforeseen,” he said. “Because as prepared as you can be, there are always things that are going to come up. You can prepare all you want for traffic, but it may be different than what you expected. There may be unforeseen obstacles that get thrown your way. Gasoline prices are spiking, and that may change your routing because what was the optimal fueling site is no longer the optimal site. So you need to be nimble, and build flexibility into the schedule and handle the unpredictable pieces.”
There are specific steps and considerations that fleet managers can take and need to keep in mind to keep their companies’ fleets moving efficiently, according to Kavanagh, such as do routes need to be rearranged or changed during the holiday period, do schedules need to be updated to take into account weather or heavy traffic volumes, is it necessary to hire additional, temporary drivers — and how can the budget be stretched to do so?
“There are complexities in each of these decisions,” Kavanagh said.