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Fleet Intuition

[Update] How to use a pool logbook

Posted by Sudesh Pillay on 2019/07/10 11:00 AM
Sudesh Pillay

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Whether you’re using an app, or the classic pen and paper, are you sure you’re managing your pool logbook effectively?

The company pool logbook is a mild irritation for those who must fill it in, but an absolute nightmare for fleet managers who have recon everyone’s data and most likely do a report on whether the pool vehicles are being used correctly. Unfortunately, it’s a vital part of ensuring your fleet runs smoothly, so there’s no getting around it.

Do you have a pool fleet policy in place?

Experienced fleet managers know you never do anything without an iron-clad company policy in place. If you have a vehicle pool that can be used by a number of employees, you need a very clear policy on who can use the vehicles, for what purpose, and exactly how those vehicles need to be treated. Your company policy will dictate exactly how the pool logbook is used and what data employees need to fill in.

Remember that details are important: you need to include how, when, and how often logbooks need to be filled in. This will depend on the purpose of you fleet. For example:

  • If the same vehicle is used by multiple drivers in one day, each driver will have to complete the logbook when they return with details such as mileage, destination, and purpose of trip.
  • If one person uses the same vehicle for an extended period, they could be required to fill in logbook details once a week, or every time the vehicle is refueled.

It’s up to the fleet manager to set up a comprehensive policy that takes all scenarios into consideration so that employees have a clear guideline every time they use a vehicle. This will entrench good habits and minimise incorrect or incomplete information that may be vital to planning your fleet schedule and budget.

So, if you’re just starting up a pool fleet, or looking for easier and better ways to manage your existing pool fleet logbook, consider what information needs to be included according to your company policy. For example:

1. It’s all about timing

A solid fleet logbook policy will include details of when and how fleet vehicles should be used, but also when they should not be used. If it’s not specified in your fleet policy, it’s very easy for mistakes to slip in. There is a lot of abuse of fleet vehicle privileges - not because everyone has negative intentions, but because often it’s just the easiest route. Why sign the car back in when you’re just going to have to sign it out again in an hour?

Make sure employees understand the risk to themselves - if the logbook is not completed correctly, they could find themselves taking the blame for an incident they weren’t involved in.  It’s also important to outline the company risks - in many cases vehicle abuse happens simply because staff don’t know how damaging it can be to a business. Once it’s explained, you’re likely to see an immediate improvement. To give employees the full picture, you need to outline the ‘don’ts’:Are there specific times that vehicles are not allowed to be checked out? Some companies have a rule that pool vehicles must be on company ground between 18h00 and 06h00 – so nobody is allowed to keep a vehicle overnight. For this reason, employees need to give exact times for when vehicles are checked in or out. In this case, your pool logbook acts as a ‘tracking device’, ensuring all company vehicles are where they’re meant to be at all times.

2. Destination and Purpose

By requiring that a destination, as well as purpose (delivery or collection or meeting etc) be filled in each time somebody uses a pool vehicle, you can keep track of the tasks that company cars are most often used for. This information will help you ensure vehicles are used for their intended purposes, but also help you decide what type of vehicles are best suited to your pool fleet. It might be that the core business has changed somewhat, and suddenly your pool fleet is required to do a lot more heavy lifting, for example. This type of information is crucial when the time comes to replace or add new vehicles.

Depending on the job your fleet is doing, you may need to sideline some vehicles for specific tasks. For example, you don’t want a passenger car acting as a heavy-lifting delivery vehicle. Yes, you might be able to fit all the goods on the rear seats, but this will lead to damage and even excessive use of fuel. Detailed logbooks will quickly alert fleet managers if vehicles are being used for the wrong purpose. This may even indicate that you need to restructure your fleet, which you will only pick up on if employees are diligent about updating logbooks.

3. Mileage and fuel usage

This is a fairly obvious one, but the mileage information on each vehicle is useful for various reasons. It ensures your pool vehicles are serviced on schedule, but also indicates whether your company mileage is increasing or decreasing. This, in turn, can affect your defleeting schedule, as well as whether you should be increasing or decreasing the number of vehicles on your fleet.

Fuel usage could indicate which drivers are the most efficient (and vice versa), and also be an early indicator if you’re not using the most efficient vehicles on your fleet. This information will help you make financially-savvy decision regarding the use and purpose of your pool fleet.

Your logbook policy must have very clear rules that every litre of fuel needs to be accounted for. If someone just tops up with R50 it needs to be logged, because if a hundred employees are neglecting to log small amounts of fuel, your fleet efficiency calculations could be severely affected.

4. Vehicle Inspections

Depending on your company policy, pool vehicles need to be inspected regularly. If you have a rule that vehicles must be inspected daily or weekly or after a certain number of kilometers, your logbook acts as a reminder for employees to do so. In this sense it becomes a tool for preventative maintenance.

Again, employee education is key. Make the point that logging any concerns is vital to keeping your fleet vehicles running smoothly and that it’s in everyone’s best interest to make a note of any concerns with a vehicle, no matter how small they may seem. Your logbook is there to protect the vehicles as well as those who drive them.

5. Cleaning responsibilities

Most fleet managers know that some people just take better care of vehicles than others. If your logbook has a basic cleaning checklist, you can avoid finger pointing and make sure everyone is responsible for keeping pool vehicles clean. Your logbook acts as a ‘responsibility’ meter, and you’ll be able to pick up who looks after company cars and who doesn’t – and have the evidence to take appropriate action.

A pool logbook should be used as a tool to ensure your company fleet is being used as effectively as possible. All the information gathered paints a picture of issues that need to be addressed and areas where the operation can be improved.

Modern fleet technology can capture all of this information automatically, and with a much higher degree of accuracy than manual versions. As with any business – accurate data is the only way to ensure success. It’s therefore vital that your pool logbook is being used to capture the information that necessary to keeping your pool fleet in optimal shape.


 

Download our handy printable pool logbook template to help you keep your paperwork in order.

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Topics: Management