Proven Methods to Increase Fleet Efficiency
Originally uploaded on September 11, 2020
For effective fleet management, it’s important to maximise fleet efficiency wherever it makes sense to do so. Although this principle sounds straightforward, it can be challenging for managers to identify every area where fleet efficiency could be improved.
In this comprehensive guide from Fuelmate, we’ve put together the most useful ways to maximise your fleet efficiency, from using fuel cards to fleet management software, to keep your fleet budget as low as it can be.
Table of Contents
Increasing Fleet Efficiency
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How to increase Fleet Efficiency
There are many helpful methods you can inject into your business to increase your fleet efficiency, and save you costs going forward.
Let's take a look at some of our favourite proven ways to improve fleet efficiency and reduce your fleet costs:
1. Use Fuel Card
Fuel cards improve fleet fuel efficiency by monitoring fuel usage and mileage, helping identify drivers or routes that consume the most fuel.
Different types of fuel cards offer discounts per litre, reducing fleet costs. Access an online fuel card account as a fleet manager to monitor activity, download reports, streamline fuel data, and save administrative time.
As a fleet manager, you’ll have access to an online fuel card account where you can monitor activity and download reports with ease. This will improve fleet efficiency by streamlining your fuel data and cutting down administrative time.
2. Monitor Vehicle Health
Monitoring vehicle health is crucial for improving fleet efficiency. It's one of our top fleet management tips.
Stay informed about your vehicles' condition, as they are valuable assets. Preventative maintenance reduces breakdowns and maintains safety standards, avoiding downtime and costly repairs. Consider your fleet budget when assessing repairs—sometimes replacing an older vehicle is more cost-effective for overall fleet efficiency.
Prioritising fleet maintenance and care is essential for cost savings. Diligence reduces downtime and improves fuel efficiency. Faulty parts increase fuel consumption and breakdown risks. To tackle MOT delays, schedule appointments more frequently (e.g., every 8 months) to prevent downtime. Combine MOTs with other maintenance tasks for cost-effectiveness. Consider using premium fuels occasionally (e.g., Shell's V-Power, BP's Ultimate) to clean fuel injectors, improving fleet longevity and fuel efficiency. Invest wisely in maintenance to achieve long-term savings.
Also, be sure to refer back to your fleet budget whenever a vehicle repair check is undertaken. As a manager, you need to think critically about when it’s more cost-effective and better for fleet efficiency to replace an older vehicle as opposed to repairing it.
3. Go Digital
Reacting and adapting are key aspects of effective fleet management. Embrace technology to enhance fleet efficiency. Digitise files and records to save time, costs, and office space. Implement new technology like online reports, dashboards, and telematics for precise vehicle data. Use digital apps for mandatory walk-around vehicle checks, reducing paperwork and saving time.
4. Analyse Overall Fleet Costs
The key to fleet cost reduction is planning and data collection. To make sure fleets are running as efficiently as possible, fleet managers need to know the full details of their fleet’s outgoings. A good method to measure this is to work out the total cost of ownership (or TCO) for each vehicle.
To work out a vehicle’s TCO, fleet managers will need to calculate:
The procurement cost - The purchase price, leasing fees, and interest rates together all make up the complete procurement cost.
The lifetime costs - These include the money spent on fuel, tax, and insurance. Fleet managers will also need to consider the vehicle’s value depreciation.
The maintenance costs - This consists of routine and ad hoc charges, including MOTs and parts changes, as well as any unexpected breakdowns.
Area and route fees - These are charges to scrutinise if a vehicle operates in an area that accrues fees, such as congestion charge zones or if they pay regular toll fees as part of their routes.
Once fleet managers have calculated their fleet’s TCO, they can identify any areas or vehicles in need of further attention. After this analysis, they can work to budget effectively and reduce fleet costs using the following strategies.
5. Replace old vehicles
With regular maintenance and monitoring of vehicles, it becomes apparent when they are no longer cost-effective to keep. When it is time to replace older vehicles, fleet managers should consider the depreciation figure and lifespan for the replacement models, as this will help cut down the overall TCO. They should also look at past fleet vehicles that have given a good return and use this data as an asset to reduce their procurement expenses.
As we also move closer toward carbon-neutral fleets, fleets need managing in a new way. The UK is not far away from seeing the lifespans of diesel and petrol vehicles cut short by their infrastructural phasing out. Fleet managers can transition to carbon-neutral options on a larger or longer scale to assist in fleet cost reduction. Currently, electric vehicles typically have a more expensive upfront cost but are cheaper to maintain. Although, this may change as they become the dominant vehicle type.
6. Optimise fleet structure
For fleet managers, it is important to continuously develop and improve a fleet’s structure. A streamlined fleet, with deliberately chosen vehicles, is much more efficient than one preserving an outdated framework.
When in the process of selecting new vehicles, there is an opportunity to look at the fleet structure and potentially choose more conservative vehicles. Namely, if it is appropriate to downsize parts of the fleet to boost fleet cost reduction. For example, if staff are now carrying less or lighter equipment, a smaller vehicle may be a valid option for them, those with lower mileage may be better suited to a petrol vehicle, or alternative arrangements, such as vehicle sharing or adopting grey fleet vehicles, may be best for those with especially low mileage.
7. Manage Staff
Unclear leadership and low levels of staff support can lead to poor morale, diminished performance, or even high turnover rates. Within widespread fleets, it can be easy for drivers to feel isolated and like they are not part of a team.
Rather than fleet costs being spent on recruitment, it is better practice as a manager to value and prioritise your current team.
To save on spending, you can also encourage staff to make more economical decisions regarding their fleet usage. For example, office-based staff who regularly travel for meetings could replace a portion of their travel with virtual meetings.
8. Evaluate routes
Along with using fuel cards, one of the most prudent ways to save on fleet costs is to stay informed on where vehicles will get the best refuelling rate, which is often a changeable detail.
When you choose fuel cards from Fuelmate, we give you access to our online portal and journey planner, which is an advantageous resource for fleet managers. With our journey planner, you can find the most cost-effective route for your drivers and save your fleet money on unnecessary detours.
9. Track superficial vehicle condition
A common complaint with communal cars, such as pool cars, is that staff members will leave them in a poor condition for other drivers. Often, we have seen fleet managers have to frequently pay to valet vehicles because of drivers leaving them in a subpar state. Another issue is that damage caused to vehicles while on the road, even superficial, can lead to end of contract charges when a lease agreement expires.
A way to reduce these expenses is to create a level of accountability for staff. This includes a clear and consistent assessment of vehicles before and after staff drive them. This can be a task that staff can complete when they are first taking the vehicle and when they return it via a form or checklist, either physical or digital. Some fleets include QR codes linked to online forms with their pool car keys, so that staff have easy access.
Here at Fuelmate, we offer a range of fuel cards that cover all of the UK’s major fuel networks to improve your fleet cost reduction and management.
10. Encourage economical driving
Efficient driving is one of the best ways to reduce fleet costs. As mentioned previously, uneconomical driving habits lead to increased fuel consumption and safety risks.
By using telematics, fleet managers will be able to assess which drivers may need further training, and promote the following practices among drivers:
- Removing excess weight from fleet vehicles,
- Driving smoothly instead of braking or accelerating harshly,
- Avoiding unnecessary speed,
- Avoid idling,
- Where possible, such as when slowing down or on a decline, using engine speed as opposed to continued acceleration,
- Moving up gears at about 2000 rpm,
- Skipping gears where possible.
Increasing Fleet Efficiency: Conclusion
This guide explains all the handy tried and tested methods you can use to increase your fleet efficiency. If you need further assistance, our team of trained fuel experts will select the best fuel card solution for your business based on your fleet’s requirements.
Our invoices supply you with advanced and itemised data that will help you to assess your fleet’s fuel usage for further savings opportunities. Find out more about how a fuel card can save you money, or, get in touch with our team to start your fuel card journey today.