Running a fleet in this day and age is anything but cheap. Cost of equipment, regular maintenance, safety and emission compliance, and the most costly of all — FUEL — are higher than they’ve ever been before. Fleet managers need to be intimately familiar with all aspects of fleet maintenance, while also understanding the importance of adopting modern technology through the use of fuel cards and telematics to help them achieve the very best cost savings.
Here are 5 tips to help fleet managers save more money on maintenance costs:
1. Choose fleet vehicles carefully
There are so many varieties of fleet vehicles out there including compact, mid-size and commercial passenger vehicles, and heavy equipment and transport fleets. If possible, it’s best to stick to vehicles of similar make and model to reduce confusion and parts issues for maintenance staff.
If a dealership will be performing your fleet maintenance, ask your dealer to suggest vehicles with the best warranty, the lowest fuel usage, and least required maintenance according to your needs. On the same note, if you maintain your fleet in-house, you need to choose vehicles which spare parts are easy to source from online stores like onlinecarparts.co.uk. This can help you in saving time and money.
Always keep this in mind: Fuel savings are paramount, but not at the expense of poor performance, increased maintenance costs, or reduced safety for your staff.
2. Hire experience
Experience is important at all levels of fleet maintenance:
- An experienced fleet manager can save untold dollars on expenses across the board. A good manager will have at least five years of fleet management experience handling a similar-sized fleet to yours. Ideally, they’ll also have previous hands-on driving and maintenance experience.
- Experienced fleet drivers are a must, and they must display a focus on cost-savings and safety. An experienced driver will understand how to: prolong frequent-wear parts, maximize fuel mileage, perform basic repairs to avoid expensive mobile repairs and towing, keep meticulous driver logs to avoid fines, and be able to train other drivers to do the same.
- Experienced fleet mechanics are just as important. A good mechanic will understand the difference between a questionable repair and one that absolutely needs to be done. Fleet maintenance costs skyrocket when inexperienced mechanics are empowered to throw money at vehicles rather than perform in-depth diagnoses prior to repair. Combined with a repair-savvy manager, an experienced mechanic is worth their weight in gold to any business’s fleet.
3. Automate fuel dispensing and tracking
Automating how fuel is dispensed and tracked using card lock and fuel management equipment and software is a must for all fleets. A large fleet will need both, whereas a smaller fleet that fuels off-site should still have telematics tracking driver’s mileage compared to accurate mileage estimates for the various runs they make.
A proper onsite card lock will tell you who’s filling what and how often. It also prevents people who don’t have a card from using your on-site pumps. Combined with surveillance cameras, a card lock prevents fuel theft and gives management insights into who might be abusing their privileges and driving excessive mileage on the company’s dime. Installing governors on highway-driven fleet vehicles can also decrease fuel costs and discourage poor driving behaviors.
4. Telematics are essential
Telematics track several key factors that increase the likelihood of a fleet driver putting a burden on the budget. Factors like speed, hard braking, fast acceleration, seat belt usage, and off-hours driving via GPS data.
When drivers abuse their assigned vehicle, costs go up in several areas including repairs, tickets and increased liability to your business due to accidents and other issues that impact your brand. Telematics also keep drivers on track and reduce the chance they’ll be diverted off course, costing valuable time and pushing back other projects.
5. Maximize and track cost of ownership
Smart fleet managers understand that cost of ownership goes up in direct proportion to a vehicle’s mileage. Just like the risk of breaking a hip or having a heart attack goes up with a person’s age, the risk of costly breakdowns go up the older a vehicle gets. Eventually, vehicles will start costing more and more money to maintain and keep compliant with safety and emission’s standards. Worse, their resale value continues to go down, meaning they won’t be worth much when you do decide to trade them in — no matter how much money you dump into them.
Performing regular preventative maintenance such as fluid changes, mechanical adjustments, and rust proofing (Ie., Rust Check, Krown) can go a long way to preventing early mechanical and structural failures, and ensuring maximum resale value. However, tracking how your vehicles generally perform over the long haul and determining their effective lifespan before maintenance, fuel, and repair costs exceed their value is paramount to keeping costs down.
Using these 5 tips can save thousands, even millions a year, depending on the size of your fleet.