Managing your organization’s fleet can often feel like wrangling a herd of cattle. Some vehicles use too much fuel or require too much maintenance, some stubbornly stay where they are, and some aren’t where you expect them to be at all.
Fleet vehicles represent a sizeable investment for government entities, and not just for the initial purchase cost. Tens of thousands of dollars go toward upfitting, modifications, maintenance, fuel, and more over the course of a vehicle’s fleet life. However, as a fleet manager, you’re tasked with achieving the readiness rates year in and year out as costs climb and budgets shrink.
It’s important to keep your herd of vehicles under control to keep unexpected costs from torpedoing your budget even further. There are a number of potential issues that could be driving up your expenses and lessening the usefulness of your fleet if you don’t keep them in check.
Here are four tips for cutting avoidable costs and running a more efficient fleet.
1. Get Maintenance Notifications
You likely maintain some sort of maintenance schedule, but in a fast-paced environment where vehicles are constantly coming and going, it’s easy for one to slip through the cracks. Missing maintenance, especially if mileage wasn’t logged correctly, drives up costs down the road as over-worked vehicles face emergency roadside repairs or pricey part replacements.
With an electronic key control system for securing and tracking keys, you can require staff to input mileage every time a key is returned. Daily reports can then be used to find discrepancies and prevent overuse. You could also use a GPS tracker to get email notifications when vehicles meet mileage milestones, ensuring they get timely maintenance.
2. Monitor for Stagnation
Keeping track of your high-use vehicles is a priority since they often require the most maintenance. However, it’s important not to forget vehicles that tend to stay on the lot — especially in light of ongoing staffing shortages. If you have stagnant vehicles, tires can rot, batteries can degrade, fuel can go bad, and fluid leaks can develop.
While you might not need all of your vehicles every single day, you still need to ensure the less-used vehicles don’t stagnate. You can use key activity in your electronic key control system to find vehicles that haven’t been used in recent weeks or even months. Also, a GPS tracker can send notifications when battery levels get too low. Rotating your vehicles ensures they don’t end up as money pits.
3. Stop Sharing Keys
Some organizations, particularly law enforcement departments, use keys that work across multiple vehicles. While this allows staff to grab a vehicle and go, especially in emergency situations, it can also be a security risk and add to the challenges of fleet management. If anybody can take any vehicle, many of which tend to look similar within a single fleet, it’ll be difficult to ensure drivers complete use and mileage logs accurately every time.
Instead, secure unique vehicle keys in an electronic key control system. By tracking key access and requiring drivers to enter mileage, you ensure employees are taking the appropriate vehicles. When your vehicle data is accurate, you can maintain timely maintenance schedules and a better readiness rate.
4. Use GPS to Reduce Fuel Costs
Though fuel prices go up and down, you probably worry about your fleet’s fuel costs no matter the direction. Yet monitoring mileage alone doesn’t necessarily help with keeping those expenses under control. Idle time, inefficient routes, and personal miles are all money drains that are hard to catch and fix.
A GPS tracker with historic route data can be used to find such inefficiencies, plan better routes, and cut avoidable expenses. Consider one that syncs with major GPS navigation providers to help improve your vehicle efficiency. When your drivers are taking smarter and better planned routes, they’re helping you save money on fuel and reduce maintenance frequency.
When you’re handed fewer resources but expected to keep your fleet running at a high readiness level, can you afford to let maintenance schedules slip, increase maintenance frequency, or waste fuel? Even if you do have a plethora of resources at your disposal, it’s still easy to fall into some unhealthy habits that drive up costs. It’s time to get your herd of vehicles wrangled by securing and tracking your keys and using GPS trackers.