Managing a vehicle fleet isn’t easy. Whether you’re looking after a fleet of rental cars, service vans, delivery vehicles, or semi-trucks that travel from state-to-state, vehicle fleet operations are complex and expensive. Things like fuel, maintenance, driver training, insurance premiums, and the like can quickly eat into a business’ operating budget.
For businesses that rely on their fleet vehicles for day-to-day operations, finding ways to reduce fleet vehicle expenses can be difficult but well worth the effort. Even small to midsize businesses (SMBs) can benefit from cutting costs and increasing cash flow.
Here are a few ways that you can start reducing your fleet vehicle expenses today with a fleet management system:
1. Reduce or Eliminate Engine Idling
Time spent with your vehicle’s engine idling is time that is spent wasting gas and not being productive for your organization. Additionally, excessive idling increases the wear and tear of your vehicle, increasing your maintenance and potential repair costs.
In general terms, the bigger the engine, the more idling will cost your organization per hour. The specific cost, however, varies depending on a variety of factors, including:
- Engine displacement;
- Current cost of fuel; and
- The amount of time spent idling each day.
According to the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), “An idling car uses between 1/5 to 7/10 of a gallon of fuel an hour. An idling diesel truck burns approximately one gallon of fuel an hour.” Depending on the cost of gas at the time and the size of your vehicle fleet, this can translate to thousands of dollars (or more) of wasted fuel per vehicle each year.
Preventing excessive idling requires strong control over your vehicles in the field, as well as detailed data about each driver’s driving habits.
2. Focus on Preventative Maintenance over Break/Fix Maintenance
Regular maintenance is important to keep your fleet vehicles fully operational and to mitigate the risk breakdowns. Unscheduled repair services can be costly depending on the work needing to be done—and part replacements are a large expense to add to your yearly fleet costs.
The old adage “a stitch in time saves nine” is just as applicable to vehicle maintenance as it is to sewing. Focusing on preventative maintenance measures that fix smaller problems before they result in expensive repairs is a great way to reduce costs and keep vehicles running at peak efficiency.
This can include important tasks like checking timing belts for wear and tear or something as minor as ensuring that each vehicle’s tires are maintained at optimum pressure (which improves vehicle control, braking, and fuel economy).
Paying attention to these minor repairs now can help you prevent catastrophic breakdowns in the future. Connecting your vehicle’s GPS device to the onboard diagnostics system, which relays vehicle data remotely, can help you easily determine which vehicles need preventative maintenance and optimize the workflow accordingly.
Preventative Maintenance and Fuel Usage
Focusing on preventative maintenance can also help to improve fuel economy. Since fuel usage is the second-largest fleet cost for industries, improving fuel economy can be a major cost-saving measure.
Improper maintenance of fleet vehicles can cause the engine to overwork and burn fuel faster. Common issues that can increase fuel usage include:
- Under-inflated or misaligned tires
- Dirty air vents
- Excessive idling
- Drivers leaving their assigned routes
- Hard braking or acceleration
- Obstructed fuel injectors
Fleet tracking telematics systems (like GPS devices and fleet management software) can help mitigate these issues by:
- Creating vehicle diagnostic code reports to identify maintenance issues that may affect fuel economy (such as leaky fuel lines);
- Monitoring driving behaviors to see which drivers engage in fuel-wasting driving habits;
- Using a geofencing tool with virtual maps to track drivers and ensure they stick to their designated routes.
3. Proactively Prevent Vehicle Loss
It’s easier said than done to prevent the premature loss of a fleet vehicle. Every day, there are many risks that threaten the life cycle and safety of fleet vehicles, including breakdowns, accidents, and theft.
To avoid having to replace your fleet vehicles outside of your normal asset management cycle, it’s necessary to:
- Monitor and control driving behaviors to prevent accidents;
- Employ strong anti-theft measures; and
- Ensure that fleet vehicles are well-maintained.
GPS tracking devices can serve as a powerful vehicle theft countermeasure—enabling fleet managers to quickly find stolen vehicles and report their location to the authorities. This can help speed up vehicle recovery so the odds of recovering a vehicle intact are maximized.
Remote starter disabling features on some GPS tracking devices can help protect vehicles from being driven “off the lot” outside of their scheduled service hours—preventing theft from happening in the first place.
4. Implement a GPS Fleet Management Tracking System
Many of the recommendations we’ve made rely on having statistical information about vehicle performance, driver behaviors, and up-to-date location data readily available. Using GPS tracking systems for fleet vehicles provides businesses with the data they need to make these improvements and save on vehicle expenses.
GPS tracking systems allow fleet managers to easily identify driving habits and log raw data to help them track the activities. From here, it’s possible to correct specific behaviors by individual drivers that contribute to wasted fuel and excessive risk of accidents.
Additionally, many modern GPS devices can interface with a vehicle’s onboard diagnostics system and remotely transmit data at regular intervals. This information can then be used to identify what maintenance is needed to prevent future issues and to make actionable decisions.
GPS can be a powerful anti-theft tool for organizations of any size because it provides continuous updates of a vehicle’s position. With recent GPS data, tracking the location of a stolen asset is simplified, enabling you to aid law enforcement in recovering your company’s property intact.
5: Check with Your Insurance Provider to See if GPS Tracking Qualifies for Reduced Premiums
Many businesses have to deal with high insurance premiums for their fleet vehicles. For example, companies in the oil and gas industry must purchase special insurance policies to cover risks that can occur during certain operational practices. Paying for multiple policies puts a heavy dent in your fleet budget, but using fleet management software could qualify your company for lower fleet insurance rates.
Some insurance agencies will recognize your efforts to improve vehicular safety by monitoring fleet and driver performance—offering to lower your insurance premiums if you use GPS tracking devices.
GPS tracking can help increase fleet safety and reduce the risk of accidents by tracking unsafe and poor driving habits. Other ways that GPS solutions could help you lower your fleet’s insurance costs include:
- Minimizing the number of accident claims by improving driver behaviors through safety training;
- Scheduling fleet vehicle maintenance checks to avoid mechanical failure; and
- Installing fleet vehicles with anti-theft security measures.
Not every insurance provider places a premium on the use of GPS systems. So, it’s important to check with your insurance provider to see if they offer discounts for using fleet tracking GPS and other safety systems.
When you start using telematics systems like fleet management GPS, you may quickly notice a significant different in your fleet’s operational efficiency. With the right GPS tracking devices and fleet management software, you can easily meet your industry-specific fleet needs while cutting costs.