Fleet management includes a wide array of responsibilities critical to the longevity and tracking of your fleet. Managers must hire and oversee employee drivers, carry out onboarding and training protocols, establish and ensure legal compliance, and maintain expense and vehicle records. Fleet managers work with drivers, maintenance technicians, and human resources employees every week, sometimes multiple times a day. Ongoing communication with various co-workers from different departments in a given company is a major requirement. But beneath all their phone calls, expense reports, maintenance records, and training sessions is one critical underlying goal: reducing the cost of their operation without sacrificing its effectiveness.

But that can be a tricky balance. Cut back on your maintenance budget and your fleet may suffer more costly breakdowns. Hold on to fleet vehicles for more miles and you may risk compromising your company’s image, reputation, and attractiveness to new clientele. Ask all your drivers to stay under 60mph to maximize MPG and it could slow down your operation and potentially leave team members disgruntled. Your aim when shaving down your fleet management budget should always be to find strategies that cut costs without hurting operational efficiency. Some measures, in fact, are capable of accomplishing both. Here are the four best ways to cut down on fleet management costs.

Fleet managers work with drivers, maintenance technicians, and human resources employees every week, sometimes multiple times a day. Ongoing communication with various co-workers from different departments in a given company is a major requirement. But beneath all their phone calls, expense reports, maintenance records, and training sessions is one critical underlying goal: reducing the cost of their operation without sacrificing its effectiveness.

Top 4 Ways to Cut Back on Fleet Management Costs

Route Optimization

For fleet-based businesses, navigation systems are critical to enabling technicians throughout the workday and remaining competitive in the larger industry landscape. Drivers spending eight-plus hours in the field every day need to make sure they’re getting from one job to the next with peak efficiency. GPS technology gets your team members to field assignments as quickly as possible. Moreover, it minimizes the amount of fuel your drivers use on those trips. Fuel makes up a significant portion of any fleet manager’s budget and identifying ways to reduce those costs can be an advantage for your operation.

Fleet management software provides fleets with the most intelligent, powerful navigation systems currently available. FMS like EnSight+ pull up the fastest routes to worksites by incorporating both distance and current traffic conditions. And when traffic changes, fleet management platforms recognize the shifting conditions in real time, immediately providing drivers and fleet managers with updated routing. By leveraging these route optimization capacities, fleet chiefs can save on gas costs while always getting their drivers where they need to go in the least amount of time possible.

While it’s true that smartphones offer similar GPS navigation technology, there’s one notable difference. The dynamic routing offered by FMS platforms feature a level of integration and 360-degree accessibility that basic smartphone apps can’t match. With the route optimization functionality on platforms like EnSight+, technicians, dispatchers, and fleet managers can all access the same maps and see the same routes at the same time. This streamlines communications and logistics, ensuring that the various arms of your operation are always in sync. In a business that thrives off of teamwork and coordination, smartphone GPS used alone can be a limiting silo. With fleet management software’s route optimization functionality, on the other hand, new levels of operational transparency are unlocked.

Route optimization can have a huge impact on the bottom line. Learn more: 4 Ways Your Commercial Fleet is Costing Too Much Money

Advanced Fuel Estimates

Historically, fleet managers have had little control over whether their technicians were driving economically while out in the field. Field team members are largely expected to drive directly to jobs, keep idling to a minimum, and avoid excessive speeding. It goes without saying, too, that fuel theft is completely unacceptable, and in many cases grounds for disciplinary action or even firing. Unfortunately, however, there have been few strategies for holding techs accountable when they do abuse their freedom behind the wheel. For better or worse, the honor rule reigned.

Data suggest that this widespread lack of accountability and oversight has caused drivers to exceed fuel cost projections on a fairly consistent basis. According to a survey conducted by Software Advice, 53 percent of fleet managers believe their drivers exceed fuel cost estimates “somewhat” or “very” frequently. If that survey is indicative of the fleet management industry as a whole, excessive fuel costs are a rampant concern.

In addition to the lack of enforcement, another issue is the sheer number of factors that can swing fuel costs. These variables include traffic conditions, weather patterns, vehicle weight, and the price of gas (which fluctuates based on the state, gas station, and cost of crude oil). Because of this, it’s long been very difficult for fleet managers to produce accurate fuel estimates. Drivers, meanwhile, could always chalk up excessive fuel costs to bumper-to-bumper traffic, construction zones, or bad weather.

Thanks to fleet management software, a whole new level of professional accountability is now possible. All that excessive wiggle room fleet managers have long fretted over is going to vanish. FMS platforms use sophisticated algorithms to project vehicle MPG for a given trip by incorporating all the above-mentioned variables. These estimates are incredibly precise, and force your drivers to spend no more on gas than they have to. With this kind of rigorous oversight, they’ll ratchet up their commitment to going from Job A to Job B without the detours that burn fuel and eat up budgets. It’s a simple, easily adopted technology that slims down your fleet management costs while tightening your entire operation.

Want a handy guide to preventive fleet maintenance? Download our Fleet Maintenance Checklist to get started.

Reduced Accident Rate with Vehicle Monitoring

Last year, Automotive Fleet reported that the annual accident rate for commercial fleet drivers was 20 percent—roughly three times the national average for all drivers. That’s due in part to the fact that commercial fleet drivers can rack up 25,000 or more miles a year, and simply have more chances of getting into an accident. All these accidents cost U.S. companies an astounding $57 billion a year, according to vehicle management platform Motus. Motus’s study also found that 40 percent of all auto accidents in 2017 were work-related. Between property damage, physical injury claims, lost labor, and other expenses, vehicle accidents can deal a crushing blow to fleet management budgets. While the financial toll from auto accidents can’t be eliminated completely, FMS platforms can offer powerful tools to mitigate them.

40 percent of all auto accidents in 2017 were work-related. Between property damage, physical injury claims, lost labor, and other expenses, vehicle accidents can deal a crushing blow to fleet management budgets. While the financial toll from auto accidents can’t be eliminated completely, FMS platforms can offer powerful tools to mitigate them.

Fleet management platforms harness the power of leading-edge telematics technology to help managers ensure that their drivers are always cautious, responsible, and vigilant. They do this by using compact monitoring devices no larger than a tape recorder. These devices can be quickly and easily installed inside glove boxes or central compartments, and then synced to your fleet software. The monitoring devices track driving habits like speed, acceleration, deceleration, idle time, and average fuel efficiency. All this driver data can then be crunched into revealing fleet metrics reports. Poring through these reports, you’ll be able to see how each of your drivers compares with the rest of the fleet and the industry as a whole.

Driver monitoring technology has the power to show fleet managers and their drivers exactly where they’re most vulnerable to potential accidents. If a particular driver has a habit of speeding on the highway that’s increasing his chance of getting into a collision, FMS telematics will pinpoint it. If another team member jams the brakes regularly—a driving style that leaves drivers more susceptible to fender-benders—your FMS platform will identify it. Driver monitoring sheds light on dangerous habits before they become costly accidents. In this way, the technology gives fleet managers the chance to execute preventative interventions that could save their operation tens of thousands of dollars a year.

Restricted Off-Hours Driving

Technicians, linemen, case managers, and other field service employees who take their fleet vehicles home face a constant temptation: driving those vehicles during off-hours. It can be easy for field team members to convince themselves that a few quick stops or a short errand are harmless. And for the most part, they would be right—if you were only looking at a single, isolated case of driving a fleet vehicle during off-hours. The problem is that those isolated incidents add up, and using fleet vehicles during off-hours can cost your operation money in a number of ways. There’s the additional mileage, added wear and tear on the vehicle, and extra fuel expense. But most of all, there’s increased exposure to potential accidents. Given all the costs associated with off-hours driving, fleet managers should be making sure they’re working diligently to minimize it.

 

Download the EnSight Plus Fleet Manager's Reporting Guide

With fleet management software, fleet chiefs can be confident their drivers are never behind the wheel of a fleet vehicle when they’re punched out. Programs like EnSight+ feature detailed mapping visualizations that show managers every fleet vehicle on the road at any given time. This around-the-clock visibility maximizes driver accountability and allows managers to immediately recognize when a team member is operating a fleet vehicle while they’re off the clock or not carrying out a specific service request. When operations chiefs can see where a vehicle is and what it’s doing 24/7, the temptation for drivers to get behind the wheel during off-hours plummets to almost zero. The result is lower fuel costs, longer-lasting vehicles, and reduced liability exposure.

Conclusion

All fleet managers must be creative, resourceful, and open-minded in their never-ending quest to cut down costs. While there are some low-tech measures you can take to chip away at unnecessary expenses, the latest FMS platforms can help you laser in on areas of moderate to substantial financial waste and slash them.

With its suite of top-flight fleet management features, EnSight+ can help fleet heads tighten budgets while commanding increasingly optimized field teams. Visit our EnSight+ page to learn more about our product and what it can do for your fleet.

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