Right now, as the coronavirus has become a part of everyday life, everyone is thinking and talking about a return to “normal.” But the various experts seem to agree at least on this one point — “normal” will not look the same moving forward as it did before, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
As COVID-19 spread, it shut down the world in varying states. While the truck fleet industry was, and continues to be, depended on to deliver essential goods, it hasn’t avoided several impacts on operations.
So, how do we return to our new fleet normal, and what is that going to look like possibly? Here are a few factors to consider and suggestions to navigate the current fleet waters:
Your business is dedicated to keeping its employees and customers safe. As the United States slowly reopens, there are several cautionary protocols that business, fleets included, should adhere to:
- Social distancing recommendations, where possible. One example of this impact may require using additional modes of transportation to transport more than a one-person crew to a job site to avoid employees sitting in close, closed quarters for long periods of time.
- Increase sanitization of vehicles, equipment, and employees. Add hand sanitizer or portable washbasins to your list of necessary equipment.
- Employee monitoring for symptoms and illness. Businesses need to be vigilant about monitoring their employees for any COVID-19 symptoms with questionnaires and possibly taking temperatures before the start of each shift.
- Tracing employee contact with staff and customers. As businesses reopen with COVID-19 still a concern, tracking your employee whereabouts and who they have come into contact with each day on the job is going to be essential in case an illness occurs.
A fleet cannot accomplish the variety of jobs it needs to do without vehicles. How we use, assign, and sanitize trucks must change. Some recommendations include:
- Assignment. As noted previously, how we assign trucks is going to change. It used to be possible to send two to four technicians or contractors to a jobsite in one unit. Now, with social distancing recommendations, you may need to assign more vehicles or request employees travel in their vehicle to a job site. Additionally, where you used to be able to assign multiple drivers to one vehicle, you will need to reduce the number of drivers you have in each unit. Some fleets may look at allowing personal use of some units, where appropriate, to reduce the number of hands touching a steering wheel.
- Sanitization. Whether you have one driver in a vehicle or more, the unit will need to be sanitized and cleaned more often and more intensely than before COVID-19. This will need to be added to routines and schedules before and after any jobs.
- Use. How you use your vehicles also needs to be reviewed. Vocational fleets often have several operators working at a jobsite, touching various points of the vehicle from liftgate controls to crane operations. Who is touching each point and how they are cleaned afterward will need to be addressed.
Businesses must take a step back and do a lot of re-evaluating. Some were heavily impacted by COVID-19, whether directly or indirectly. Many people, some of which could be your clients, have gone out of business. Others are operating in a new climate. Be understanding.
One of the best tips is to start opening communication. Whether it’s a video conference or a phone call, find out how your customers are doing and what you can do to support their efforts. Contact your industry suppliers and partners and let them know where you stand and what YOU need to keep moving forward.
One silver lining I see in all of this? We are going to come out stronger, leaner, and better prepared to support our drivers and our customers than ever before.
We’re all in this together. What are you doing to navigate the “new normal” today?
E-mail me, let’s chat!