With oil prices fluctuating wildly and sometimes reaching outrageous heights, many fleet managers and owner/operators are looking for ways to trim down their fuel costs. Fortunately, there are several simple and common sense steps you can take to cut out unnecessary fuel waste and improve profit margins.
Probably the most obvious way to save money on gas is simply to drive less. Using well designed tracking and dispatching systems will provide you and your team with routes that keep drivers' destinations closer together and easier to reach. This prevents members of the fleet from crossing paths with one another unnecessarily. Many of these routing programs are currently available to help fleet managers accomplish this task.
There are a lot of reasons that drivers tend to let their vehicles idle from time to time. On the small scale, idling for an hour may only burn a single gallon of fuel. However, a fleet comprised of 5 vehicles idling for an hour each every day of the week can add significant fuel costs to any operation. This only gets worse when there are more vehicles and longer idling times after you add in unexpected traffic delays.
Excessive speeding and heavy braking and accelerating cause fuel to burn inefficiently. Drivers should be encouraged to follow speed limits and make use of cruise control technology when available. Studies show that reducing driving speed from 70 MPH to 60 MPH can save you up to 13% in fuel costs.
Do Maintenance On Time, Every Time
This cannot be said enough. Maintaining your fleet is your first defense against unnecessary breakdowns, poor performance and more. Keeping tires properly inflated has a huge impact on your fuel economy, as well as changing oil filters and air filters at designated maintenance points. While the cost of maintenance may seem like a lot to handle for a large fleet, neglecting vehicles will not only cost you more in fuel on a daily basis, it will likely result in you having to roll a second vehicle out when something goes wrong, effectively doubling your fuel costs for a single customer.
Hold Your Team Accountable
An unfortunate reality in the world of fleet management is that company gas cards are hard to keep track of. Luckily there are integrated reporting systems now available for fleet managers so that you can see where your fuel cards are being used, how often and in what amounts. This enables you to find trends and identify cases where gas cards are being misused. Whether that means that someone is stealing a few dollars at a time for their personal vehicles, or that someone is using company vehicles to make unauthorized trips outside of their designated area, you will have the ability to get to the bottom of the problem and cut it off.
Use Technology To Your Advantage
There are now several mobile apps and websites that are designed to track fuel prices all over the country. Encourage your fleet members to use those apps to find the cheapest fuel in their area. Even five cents a gallon can make a huge difference over the course of the year with five or more vehicles in operation. While you're at it, don't neglect traffic tracking apps that will keep drivers from sitting on busy interstates unnecessarily.
Choosing to use your vehicles and resources wisely is the key to cutting fuel costs for your entire fleet. This means paying close attention to driving habits, utilizing helpful tools to reduce waste, and making sure that everybody is doing their part to save.
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