Van fleet management is no easy feat.
The cost of operating, maintaining, and managing a fleet of vans or other vehicles cannot be understated; it is something that is steadily increasing over time and many businesses fail to fully appreciate just how high, both in terms of finances and manpower, it can be.
One of the largest fleet costs it that of fuel and, unfortunately, it is not something that businesses can skimp on; without fuel, a fleet will not run—simple as.
For consumers and businesses alike, the cost of fuel is fairly high. Whilst it is easy to think this is the fault of greedy retailers inflating their prices, the situation isn’t so quite clear cut.
The truth is that oil is an expensive commodity. Before it even reaches the pumps, the price of oil is already expensive and with the fierce competition between fuel retailers and petrol stations to have the lowest price comes a very slim profit margin.
There are also plenty of other factors that influence the price of oil. Tensions in the Middle East—where most of the world’s oil reserves are located—is the big one whilst exchange rates, government policy, taxes, oil abundance and scarcity, and geopolitics (dare we say it… Brexit) all have their parts to play.
When you add general van fleet management into the mix on top of these high fuel costs, you have a whole lot of expenditure. As such, those in charge of van fleet management should be doing all they can to keep fuel costs down.
There are several ways for van fleet managers, and fleet drivers themselves, to reduce their fuel expenditure.
One of the simplest and easiest ways to reduce the cost of van fleet management is by introducing fuel cards.
Fuel cards are used by businesses both small and large throughout the UK to reduce fuel costs, save money on van fleet management, and reduce the fleet admin burden faced by staff members.
They save businesses money by providing your fleet drivers in many ways. Some cards, for example, offer fixed weekly prices whereas others can be used at supermarket forecourts which almost always have the lowest prices available anywhere on the market. Fuel cards also benefit your drivers because they do not have to keep receipts or claim expenses.
With features like HMRC-friendly invoicing, per-litre savings, and online account management where you can view current spend, driver activity, and more, there is no reason to not use fleet cards as part of your van fleet management efforts.
Telematics systems are clever bits of kit that connect your drivers with a central hub where you can gain an insight into what they are getting up to.
Using telematics, you can see where your vehicles are located and how they are being used in real time. Speed, acceleration, revs, and braking are all driving metrics that can be monitored, allowing you to take action and intervene where required.
Telematics systems hold your drivers to account for their driving and allow you to gain an insight into their habits, fuel efficiency, and areas with room for improvement. This enables you to find new ways to change things around and cut costs which, over time, improves your bottom line by helping your drivers reduce the amount of fuel they use, amongst other things.
Vehicles need some TLC from time to time and although newer vehicles are far more fuel efficient than older ones, that doesn’t mean fleet managers need to replace entire fleets.
Keeping your current vehicles in good nick and servicing them regularly will help prevent vehicle downtime and increase fuel efficiency. For example, there could be problems with some of your vans’ engines which are reducing fuel efficiency by crippling miles per gallon (MPG). Whilst a few lost MPG here or there may not seem like much, it all adds up over time to quite the eye-watering figure!
Whilst all forecourts are competing with one another for the lowest prices, there are a few that consistently have the lowest prices available on the market such as supermarket forecourts. Therefore, it makes sense for fleet managers to create a list of ‘preferred’ forecourts in your fleet’s policies
When using the right telematics software, it is sometimes possible to integrate them with your fuel card providers so that your fleet drivers will always have information about or be guided to the cheapest forecourt that is closest to them and is also on your ‘preferred’ forecourt whitelist. This will help you with the enforcement of any policies you have surrounding the use of specific fuel stations.
Optimum van fleet management begins with fuel efficient driving and the practice of fuel-efficient driving is something that should be taught to all your fleet drivers.
Alongside the right education and telematics systems, encouraging and enforcing sensible and fuel-efficient driving becomes a lot easier. Efficient driving reduces the risk of accidents, slows down wear and tear, and uses far less fuel—it should be a non-negotiable rule for all your fleet drivers.
Fuel efficient driving isn’t just about driving practices, though. Fleet drivers should be tasked with ensuring other efficiency leaks are patched up, two common examples being underinflated tyres and overloaded vans.
Are your fleet vehicles right for the purpose they are being used? If you are using gas-guzzling diesel panel vans when a smaller, more lightweight, and fuel-efficient model could do the job, you will be spending more money on fuel than is necessary.
Those in charge of van fleet management need to make sure that they are only procuring the vehicles that are needed to do the job. Smaller vans are also a lot cheaper in terms of the up-front cost, are easier (and, again, cheaper) to maintain, and use far less petrol or diesel than their bigger and more boisterous cousins.
Frivolous and/or unnecessary use of company cars and vans can lead to a lot of fuel being used when it needn’t be.
We’re not talking about banning your employees from nipping down the street to pick up their lunch here, though. Rather, we are concerned with use of company vehicles where there is no real need to.
Instead of driving the car hundreds of miles from one county to another for a meeting, for example, why not push for a conference call instead? Nobody likes meetings at the best of times, let alone travelling far and wide for them! Even if only the odd bit of unnecessary is cut out each week or month, this will add up to plenty of fuel saved over the course of a year.
If you think that you are spending too much money on keeping your commercial fleet running, you probably are! Luckily, there are plenty of steps you can take and avenues that you can explore to cut down these costs and benefit from better fuel efficiency.
From procuring and implementing fuel cards and rehauling your company’s policies surrounding fleet vehicle use, you can save money in lots of places.
Telematics systems and fuel cards are two solutions that every modern commercial fleet must have. They provide a top-down view of fuel efficiency and driver activity, allow you to save money on fuel, and save your staff a lot of van fleet management and admin time.
Using iCompario, you can find and compare a wide range of systems and solutions for your commercial fleet, including telematics and fuel cards.
Find out more.