Best Practices for Fleet Management: Get More From Your Fleet

Fleet management is crucial for businesses that use vehicles. Focusing on efficient ways to manage vehicles directly affects a company’s bottom line. Ultimately, a well-managed fleet can help increase cash flow. By implementing best practices in fleet management, fleet managers can reduce operational costs, enhance productivity and improve safety.

Let’s look at some of those best practices, how they impact a business and a fleet card’s role in the fleet management process.

A well-managed fleet can help increase cash flow.

Fleet Card Analytics

Data should be at the heart of fleet management. Using a fleet card is one of the best ways to get the information you need to make informed decisions.

Data Collection

A fleet card, also known as a business gas card, captures every transaction in real-time, and all information is logged in your fleet card dashboard. This means you can access valuable data points whenever you want to view them. Common metrics include:

  • Date and time of the transaction
  • Location (address and brand of fuel station)
  • Volume of fuel purchased
  • Type of fuel purchased (gas vs. diesel)
  • Grade of fuel purchased (regular vs. premium)
  • Itemized list of other items purchased
  • Odometer reading

This information can be used to gain insights into vehicle performance and driver habits.

Informed Decision-Making

By analyzing fuel consumption, station location, number of fill-ups, mileage, etc., a fleet manager can see how vehicle health and driver behavior impact fuel usage. Making strategic decisions about vehicle replacements and training needs can drastically reduce how much fuel a fleet consumes.

Regular Vehicle Inspections

Regular vehicle inspections are foundational to fleet management. Ensuring every vehicle is in optimal condition before it hits the road can prevent breakdowns and reduce maintenance costs. Vehicle inspections can increase the longevity of your fleet.

Use an inspection checklist that includes checking the following:

  • Tire pressure
  • Oil level
  • Brake fluid
  • Coolant
  • Transmission fluid
  • Headlights
  • Brake lights
  • Air filters

In addition to frequently checking the above, it’s essential to regularly inspect each vehicle’s:

  • Engine
  • Transmission
  • Brakes
  • Suspension

These do not need to be checked with every single use, but it’s important to check them routinely. You may choose to do this monthly or based on mileage. Regardless of how you measure when an inspection should occur, a fleet card is a great tool to guide you. By regularly monitoring fleet card data, you always know how many miles a vehicle has been driven and how many days/hours it’s been in the field.

Use set parameters to conduct vehicle inspections to ensure a vehicle never goes unchecked. Doing so optimizes gas mileage, adds life to vehicles and helps keep your drivers safe.

Maintenance Approaches

There are two approaches to maintenance — reactive and preventative. Reactive maintenance means waiting until there is a significant issue and then addressing the problem. The challenge with this method is that vehicle repairs are often costly, causing longer vehicle downtime. Best practice suggests taking a proactive approach.

Manage Maintenance

Preventive maintenance is a proactive approach to fleet management. This involves the previously mentioned inspections and servicing vehicles before significant issues arise. By adhering to a preventative maintenance program, fleet managers can avoid costly breakdowns and keep vehicles running at peak efficiency.

Your preventive maintenance schedule should include:

Regular Servicing

Create a maintenance schedule based on the manufacturer’s recommendations and vehicle usage. Regularly service engines and transmissions and change filters, fluids and worn-out parts to help prevent a decline in performance.

Employee Training

Train drivers to identify and report potential problems during their daily vehicle inspections. Driver involvement can foster a sense of responsibility and ownership.

Most routine maintenance is suggested based on mileage, while other vehicle services may be based on time of ownership. Keeping track of maintenance schedules can be challenging. With a fleet card, you can set alerts for service needs based on mileage or specific dates.

Prioritize Driver Training and Safety

Driver behaviors can significantly influence fleet efficiency and safety. Prioritizing driver training and safety can positively impact your fleet’s performance. Here are a few practices many fleet managers use:

Ongoing Driver Training

Educate new and experienced drivers on expected driving practices such as adhering to the speed limit, defensive driving, avoiding aggressive braking and minimizing idling. All of these habits can improve fuel economy.

Incentive Programs

Create incentive programs rewarding safe driving practices and fuel-efficient behavior. Doing so fosters a sense of responsibility among your drivers and creates friendly competition.

Driver Feedback

Providing drivers with feedback on their driving habits is a great way to reinforce positive behaviors while shedding light on problematic ones.

Use Driver-Specific Fleet Card Data

All of the above practices can be enhanced using driver-specific fleet card data. Fuel usage can be tracked by driver or route. If using GPS or telematics, you can get even more granular with average speed, excessive speeds and idle times.

Have a Clear Fuel Policy

A large part of running an efficient fleet is having a clear fuel policy. Make sure the policy is effectively communicated to all drivers. Your fuel policy should include expectations regarding:

  • Vehicle usage
  • Fueling expectations (brand, type, grade)
  • Spending limits
  • Maintenance schedules and expectations
  • Driver behavior expectations

A large part of running an efficient fleet is having a clear fuel policy.

Use Mobile Apps

Mobile apps are valuable tools for fleet management. Some are geared toward drivers with maps of nearby fueling stations and service centers. Others are designed for management with features that help manage payments and invoices. With these apps, fleet managers can set spending controls, view reports and manage cards right from their mobile devices.

Cost-effective and Efficient Fleet Management

Optimizing a fleet for maximum efficiency isn’t a one-time action. Using best practices, fleet managers can help operations remain cost-effective and efficient.