Owning a fleet can be an expensive affair. With all the money invested in the purchasing of fleet vehicles, it is now up to the fleet manager or director to keep costs low. A well-managed fleet can be a valuable asset, but a poorly managed one can be a money dump.
There are many areas where costs occur, mainly the buying of new vehicles, the maintenance of currently owned vehicles, and the everyday usage of vehicles.
The main way to cut costs is by being selective with the number of vehicles that make up a fleet. Having more vehicles than needed is a waste of money. Smaller fleets need to be extra vigilant of underutilized vehicles because of economies of scale, where a single vehicle in a small fleet can have a much larger financial burden. Although this concept seems logical, in practice, it can be hard to determine whether all vehicles are getting enough usage to make them a valuable asset. This becomes increasingly evident in larger fleets. Having fleet telematics can help a manager analyze usage numbers to see if a vehicle is a valuable asset or if it should be removed to cut costs.
Maintenance of fleet vehicles is another important area of management. The costs of oil changes and basic repairs remain predictable, as long as they are done on a set schedule. Pushed off repairs, or forgotten about repairs end up costing more in the long run.
Finally, vehicle usage plays a major role in the total cost of a fleet. And it can be the hardest to manage. To make the most of an asset, fleet vehicles need to use the shortest routes and idle less to cut fuel costs. They also need to be treated well. Unnecessary wear and tear can lead to extra maintenance costs, and possibly shorter vehicle life spans.
Managing a fleet is a balancing act, if well balanced, the fleet will pay for itself. Underutilized vehicles, failure to keep up on maintenance and poor usage habits by drivers can tip this balance. Managers need reliable data to keep balance.