Making the best use of your resources is the key to minimizing your expenses as a fleet manager. That’s why we worry so much about things like fuel economy — a truck that isn’t getting the maximum gas mileage is costing the company money. Gas credit cards enable you to closely monitor your vehicles’ fuel economy, ensuring that problems don’t go unnoticed — at least not for very long!
But fleet fuel management is just one piece of the puzzle. There are many other ways to minimize your expenses. Well-planned routes are another way for you to guarantee that you are making the most out of your resources.
Think of routing as similar to planning out the errands you are going to run on a Saturday afternoon or on the way home from work — just on a larger scale. Careful routing means looking at what stops you need to make, and combining stops that are close to one another or can be done on the way to another. This makes the best use of your drivers’ time, as well as their fuel.
Routing isn’t easy, though, and requires someone who is able to see the big picture. Here are a few things to consider when planning your drivers’ routes:
- Location - This is the first and most obvious thing to look at. When you have deliveries to make close to one another, or one that can be made on the way to another, it makes sense to make only one trip. Same thing goes if you have five or even ten deliveries to make that can be combined, although now planning the route becomes a bit more challenging.
- Delivery time - What time does the delivery need to arrive? If you have a delivery that has to be there in the morning, and another that won’t be ready until afternoon, you won’t be able to combine them. That’s okay — you won’t be able to merge routes every time.
- Available space on the truck - Sometimes there just isn’t enough room on the truck. A large delivery probably won’t be able to be combined with other stops, except for maybe one or two small deliveries. Also, consider where things are to be loaded on the truck, and make sure that a later delivery isn’t blocking access to an earlier one.
- Hours of Service regulations - These regulations limit how long a driver can be behind the wheel each day. If you are planning short-term routes, you will need to make sure that you don’t put a driver on any route that will take him over his hours for the day. Send another driver, or split up the route.
- Special client needs - Sometimes clients have special needs that prohibit you from combining routes. For instance, a client might request a certain driver, or the nature of their delivery might require a certain truck.
Part of the reality of routing is finding a way to make separate deliveries mesh, despite all of these variables. Think of it like a giant puzzle. Although it does require someone who is good at seeing the big picture and at finding ways to put the puzzle pieces together so that they fit, careful routing is a skill that will ensure you make the best use of the resources available to you.
If a fleet of vehicles is necessary for the day-to-day running of your company, then odds are you spend some time, in both money and hours, keeping track of fleet expenses such as fuel consumption and maintenance. If things are running fairly smoothly, then your books will be pretty much balanced for the most part. But every system can be improved upon and by having the right fleet fuel management system in place for your company you’ll be surprised at just how smoothly things can run when it comes to your company fleet.
Implementing the right fuel management solutions for your company is all about ways you can save money at the pumps and also in the office. Regardless of the number of cars or trucks your company uses, keeping on top of fuel expenses, maintenance and other associated costs can be difficult and time consuming. You may also be hemorrhaging money with poor receipt tracking and no clear definitions of what your drivers can and can’t do.
The easiest way to manage your company’s fuel expenses is by using fleet gas cards. With in-house company credit cards, it can be difficult to keep track of gas expenses versus other expenses. Your financial department could find themselves buried under a pile of receipts that just don’t match up with the company’s fuel budget. With fleet credit cards, all of that initial paperwork is taken care of for you. When the cards are used at the pumps, the charges are recorded and your company will receive the receipts and reports on each card’s usage. This can go a long way to helping keep your books balanced. And, you can save money in hours because it won’t take your financial department nearly as long to balance the books.
Another key element of fleet fuel management solutions is to identify areas where there could be improvement. For example, don’t assume that your drivers know their duties. Check in with them and make sure that their job descriptions and what they are expected to do and not do is clearly explained. If your drivers aren’t 100% sure what their jobs are, then you could be looking at lost or down time while they are on the road. This can result in loss of income for the company.
The routes that your drivers take can also be costing the company some money. Re-examining the routes most often taken, including where your drivers tend to stop for refueling can help you come up with better ways of getting from point A to point B. With the software available as part of a fleet fuel management system you may discover that what appears to be the quickest route actually isn’t once you take into consideration traffic flow and typical weather conditions. Just using the fleet cards themselves can save you money at the pump. Depending on the number of vehicles in your fleet, you could be eligible for a fuel discount or a locked in fuel price. Even if the gas prices increase, you won’t have to pay the elevated cost because you’ll be locked into a lower price point. You can also set the cards up so that they can only be used to purchase gas, which can also help control the money your company spends.
Managing your company’s fuel consumption can be a huge task, especially if your company has a large fleet to deal with. Using fleet credit cards as part of your overall fleet fuel management solution will make tracking your company’s fuel consumption easier, along with helping cut down on the costs associated with running a fleet.