Avoid the Trickle-Down Effect: A Broken-Down Fleet

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Although not too many of us are domino players these days, we’ve all heard of “the domino effect.” When those same game pieces are set up in a standing formation, when one falls, all the rest fall, too, one after another.

While this is fun to watch when it’s little tiles on a table (YouTube has some crazy videos), it’s less fun to watch when it’s happening metaphorically, in your business. When one thing goes wrong, it can affect other parts of the business that might not even seem to be that closely related, and everything goes downhill. 

For example, let's say you have one vehicle in your fleet that breaks down when a driver is on the way to a job. 

  • Your driver first has to call the customer and explain that he won’t in fact be there at the time she was told to expect someone, which upsets the customer. 
  • The driver then has to call the office, so the dispatcher can get another tech to that job, and the dispatcher has to call around to see who’s available for this last-minute job.
  • If a tech can’t get to the customer until much later in the day, the customer may get so frustrated she cancels the service – and calls your competitor.
  • The driver has to wait for a tow truck, meaning you’re paying him to play “Words with Friends” on his phone while he sits in the broken-down vehicle.
  • The vehicle is towed to a repair shop, where it may sit for the rest of the day before it gets looked at, and if the mechanic needs to order a part, it’s out of commission for even longer.
  • Meanwhile, your fleet is down a vehicle, which means you either ramp down for a few days, losing out on potential revenue because you aren’t running at full capacity, or you load up everyone else to the breaking point, which can mean that work gets sloppy. 
  • Then maybe the mechanic calls to say that the breakdown occurred because of a deferred repair, and fixing everything will cost big, because putting off that repair created other issues. So you’re not only losing money by having a vehicle out of commission, but that vehicle is now going to cost a lot to get fixed (and you’re cursing yourself for not taking care of that little knocking sound sooner).

While this may sound like a perfect storm of worst-case scenarios, it’s sadly more common than you think, which means you need a way to stay on top of vehicle maintenance and make sure breakdowns never happen.

GPS vehicle tracking isn’t just good for keeping an eye on vehicles when they’re in motion; it also keeps tabs on their health and maintenance needs. 

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You can set up automatic alerts based on a calendar, engine ‘on’ time or miles driven and pings you when vehicles are due for maintenance. The system sends real-time notifications any time the engine throws a code, so you are aware of any issues as they happen.

It also keeps track of past services, so you can see what’s been done on each vehicle. Every vehicle gets its own service plan and calendar – it’s “set it and forget it” after the initial setup.

Oh, and that poor dispatcher calling around to all the techs to see who’s available for a last-minute job? She can use the vehicle tracking aspect of the software to immediately see on a digital dashboard what other techs are in the customer’s area and whose calendar is open. (This works during any emergency job order, by the way – no vehicle breakdown needed.)  

So lower the odds of breakdowns by monitoring your vehicle’s health and managing maintenance needs without driving yourself crazy – and you’ll avoid the domino effect one down vehicle can have. 

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