Fleet Management, Fleet Safety, Maintenance, Asset Tracking, Safety

3 Ways to Leverage Your Fleet to Weather the Construction Labor Shortage

February 14, 2020


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More than 79% of construction companies are suffering from worker shortages and are actively looking to hire new talent. The problem? Current construction workers are retiring and millennials—who are more likely to seek out office jobs than previous generations—aren’t replacing this aging workforce. 

The result? There just aren’t enough skilled laborers to go around. In fact, industry experts expect workforce growth to slow to less than 1% over the next 10 years.  

This labor shortage isn’t just inconvenient, it’s impacting businesses of all sizes. With fewer workers, jobs take longer to complete, which cuts into your profits and efficiency. 

The good news is that you have the tools to combat the negative impacts of the construction worker shortage. Your vehicles and assets are your greatest advantage in overcoming the challenges created by the labor shortage. Since your fleet is essential to your bottom line, you can leverage it to keep jobs on time and within budget.

Here are three ways you can strategically utilize your fleet to run an efficient, safe, and profitable construction company despite a limited pool of workers. 

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Attract and retain workers by promoting safety

In general, construction has one of the highest churn rates of any industry. So during this labor shortage, it’s crucial you retain the skilled workers you’ve already hired. You can retain talent by putting your company's safety front and center and demonstrating your commitment to providing a safe workplace no matter how tough the job. 

While construction companies often have programs in place for on-site worker safety, there’s room to promote safety on the road. Reducing accidents en-route to job sites creates an all-around safer company. By creating a safer workplace, you show your workers that you care about their health and well-being and that you respect them as people, not just employees. 

To improve employees’ safety while driving, strive to identify dangerous behavior so you can take steps to make corrections. Dash cameras are helpful for understanding what’s actually happening on the road. In fact, fleets deploying dash cams have been proven to reduce accidents by 52%. Using a fleet safety solution, like Samsara dash cams, gives you greater visibility into harsh events on the road, like sudden braking and harsh accelerating. When these events occur, you can customize alerts to be sent to your phone and can immediately download video footage of the event from your dash cams. You’ll gain a comprehensive understanding of what caused the event and be able to proactively coach your employees about safer driving. 

To create and promote a safer work environment, reward your safest workers—those with the fewest accidents on job sites and on the road. Building out rewards programs is a simple and effective way to recognize your top workers while improving your company’s overall safety. Rewards don’t have to be monetary—it’s often the recognition and appreciation that makes a difference for your workers. 

One of the best ways to recognize your safest workers is through career advancement. By promoting employees who embody your commitment to safety, you create a management team dedicated to creating a safer work environment. Building out training and promotion programs to reward your best employees makes your commitment to their safety and growth tangible. Employees that feel appreciated and respected are more likely to stick with your company and not seek out other opportunities. 

Curb increasing job costs through fleet right-sizing  

With fewer workers available projects are taking longer to complete, which increases costs for construction companies. By maximizing your fleets’ utilization, you have an opportunity to make up for these lengthy, costly jobs. 

Maximizing your fleet’s utilization begins with right-sizing. Right-sizing ensures that you have the right number of vehicles and assets you need to successfully run your business. Telematics solutions, like Samsara, can help you right-size by aggregating usage data for your entire fleet in real time. Samsara Vehicle Gateways (VGs) and asset trackers, for example, plug into your vehicles and powered assets to continuously track mileage and engine hours. Samsara offers specialized reports, like the Utilization Report, that use this engine data to calculate what percentage of time your powered assets are being used during work hours. This makes it easy to identify opportunities to allocate your assets more efficiently.

If you have underused vehicles and powered assets, you can either sell them or rent them out to generate more revenue. Renting out portions of your fleet is especially impactful during labor shortages. By leasing, you can minimize your losses by quickly rotating vehicles and assets in and out of use to respond to shifts in your workforce or job volume. 

The revenue from selling or renting parts of your fleet can make up for the increase in construction job costs that the labor shortage is creating. You can either pocket these profits or invest them in attracting new workers to your company, such as by holding hiring events, running local ads for open positions, investing in worker benefits, or offering sign-on bonuses.

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Improve productivity with preventative maintenance  

Having assets and vehicles constantly in and out of shops not only cuts into your profits but also reduces productivity. As job lengths grow due to fewer workers, every vehicle and piece of equipment plays a critical role in helping you complete more projects on time. 

By automating your current preventative maintenance schedules, you cut down on machine downtime, which increases the productivity of your workforce and helps reduce job length. And when navigating a labor shortage, increasing productivity can make up for having a smaller number of employees. 

The best preventative maintenance schedules are created based on engine usage data continuously pulled directly from your machines. Some telematics solutions, like the Samsara VGs and Asset Gateways (AGs), make tracking this data seamless. They automatically track mileage or engine usage and allow you to set maintenance alerts, so you don’t have to rely on manually logging odometer data and engine hours to create preventative maintenance schedules. For example, if your vehicles or heavy machinery alert with a fault code while on the road or on a job, your mechanics can immediately receive automated texts or emails about what issue has been detected. With these instant alerts, your mechanics have time to prepare the necessary tools and parts for repairs before the vehicle or asset even arrives at the shop. 

Through continuous insights into the health of your vehicles and machines, you can prevent downtime and keep your fleet running smoothly, so you can keep productivity high and finish jobs on time. 

The tools to combat the labor shortage are in your hands

By leveraging your fleet to incentivize safe workers, right-size your vehicles and assets, and improve your maintenance, you can weather the construction worker shortage so you can continue running an efficient, safe, and profitable business.

To learn more about how Samsara’s dash cams and Vehicle Gateways can help you combat the labor shortage, reach out for a free trial or demo today. 

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