When it comes to running a fleet, you need to maintain a lot of running costs, including maintenance, repairs, and fuel expenditures. The latter is inarguably the biggest operating expense for fleet managers. After all, the moment there is a significant spike in fuel prices, the senior management starts worrying about how it might impact their bottom line.
As a fleet manager, you must find inventive and effective ways to reduce your fuel expense. However, it’s not always easy to reduce such a huge running cost. You need to manage driver behavior, implement various strategies, maintain your vehicles, and account for various extraneous factors.
So, let’s explore nine effective ways to reduce your fleet’s overall fuel expenditure!
1. Reduce Avoidable Idling
Minimizing unnecessary idling is a surefire way for a fleet manager to reduce fuel costs and unnecessary greenhouse gas emissions. Excess idling results in needless wear and tear to the vehicle’s engine and avoidable noise pollution.
if you want to reduce fuel costs, you must instruct your drivers to turn off the engine of the vehicles assigned to them whenever possible to avoid long idling periods. After all, not only does an idling engine cause fuel wastage but excessive engine idling also creates engine hours, which are typically used to determine the powertrain warranty of the vehicle.
2. Create a Customized Fuel Policy
The fundamentals of an effective fuel cost management policy remain the same regardless of the size of your fleet or the price of fuel. However, as a fleet manager, you must create a customized, fuel management policy that is tailored to your budgetary requirements.
You also need to make certain that fleet drivers and fuel card users understand the policy specifications and the expectations around fuel conversation and card usage. You need to support this policy by consistently monitoring the mile per gallon performance across your assets. Plus, as the manager of your fleet, you need to create as much visibility as possible around fuel-related transactions and spending trends.
3. Leverage Fuel Card Control to Prevent Fraud
If you want to successfully reduce your company’s fuel spend, you should try leveraging fuel card controls. To do this, set defined parameters to prevent unauthorized or excessive spending. You can fix daily, weekly, or monthly transaction limits on your cards and put restrictions on the time of the day your cards can be used and the type of purchases that can be made with them. By using these controls, you can ensure that the fuel pump will shut off after a certain dollar amount or a certain time.
Implementing a wide range of controls will safeguard your fleet company from employee theft and promote proper fuel usage. You can set different controls across the fleet for individual drivers. This way, you will not only protect your company against fraud but also help it achieve its bottom line.
4. Improve Driver Behavior
The way you train your fleet’s drivers to drive the company vehicles can result in an overall increase or decrease in your fleet’s fuel spend and greenhouse gas emissions. If you can change the driving patterns of your drivers, you can have a direct effect on the overall amount of fuel consumed by your fleet vehicles and the emissions released.
Even a small boost in miles per gallon can lead to substantial savings on a company-wide level. Fleet managers who implemented eco-driving training programs reported a 5% to 30% reduction in their annual fuel consumption. This reduction was only possible because of the modification in driver behavior. Your key challenge is to make this a permanent mindset for all of your old and new drivers. The best way to do so is to arrange regular programs for your drivers to ingrain this habit in their minds.
5. Keep an Eye on Fuel Exception Reports
You must also enforce exception reporting, including fuel type mismatch, tank capacity violations, non-fuel purchases, and other such exceptions, for all of your active drivers. It will lead to a sense of accountability and ensure that your drivers have the responsibility to report how they are using their fuel cards. It will help you drive fuel savings and also spot any unnecessary expenditures.
6. Encourage Your Drivers to be Price Conscious at All Times
Always encourage all of your drivers to be price conscious when refueling their vehicles, even if the fuel prices are lower than usual. Also, make sure that your drivers look for the best net fuel pricing to make the most of the benefits of the current lower fuel prices.
7. Optimize Your Territories and Routes
Apart from investing in fuel-efficient vehicles, you must also actively work to optimize your work routes and territories. After all, if you can make certain that your drivers are taking the shortest, easiest, and traffic-less route to their destination, you can significantly reduce the overall fleet fuel spend by reducing the number of miles driven by all vehicles.
8. Keep the Tires Inflated Properly
Did you know that one underinflated tire can reduce fuel economy by 2% per pound of pressure below the appropriate inflation level? What’s more is that, on average, one out of four drivers drive vehicles with one or more underinflated tires. When a vehicle’s tire is underinflated by 4 to 5 psi below the manufacturer’s recommended tire pressure, the fuel consumption of that vehicle rises by 10%.
Plus, over time, it causes a 15% reduction in tire tread life. So, under inflated tires will not only cause a spike in your fuel consumption and spend, but it will also lead to damaged tires. It’s why you must instruct all your drivers to conduct thorough regular assessments of their vehicle’s tires to prevent underinflated tires.
9. Keep Your Vehicles’ Trunks Clean
Fleet vehicles offer better mileage when they are not overloaded with unnecessary bulky items. Every 200 pounds of supplemental weight reduces one mile off fuel efficiency. It’s why you must make sure that your drivers don’t put unnecessary weight in the truck of their vehicles. Instruct them all to remove unnecessary tools, gear, and other materials from their trunks when heading out on a job.
If you want to reduce the overall fleet fuel spend of your company, you will need to follow the aforementioned steps. You will have to implement an effective fuel management policy, enforce fuel card controls, maintain your vehicle’s engine and tires, reduce idling, optimize the routes, and improve driver behavior. Only then will you be able to create a significant reduction in your fuel expenditure and achieve your bottom line.