Vehicles are costly things to own or rent, and that’s true whether you’re driving a personal car or managing a fleet of trucks for a business. Whether your vehicles will get field teams to their destinations or deliver goods for customers, fleet maintenance costs and repair costs can add up fast. Scheduling software helps you better control those costs through more intelligent use of your fleet resources. Learn more in the guide below.
Why Are Fleet Maintenance Programs Important?
Fleet management programs refer to the policies, procedures and tools used to manage fleet operations properly. Ongoing wear and tear on fleet vehicles are unavoidable, but maintaining certain elements in a timely manner can proactively reduce the costs associated with that wear and tear. Maintenance programs set out the guidelines for fleet managers to do just that.
One of the most important tools you can have in your fleet maintenance and repair program is scheduling software. With fleet maintenance software that includes a scheduling component, you can more easily schedule maintenance to reduce the overall cost of managing your fleet. You can also plan for resource use — including drivers, equipment and even the vehicles themselves — to optimize the efficiency and durability of your fleet.
How Does Scheduling Software Improve Fleet Management As a Whole?
Scheduling software, such as Visual Planning, improves fleet management by aligning resources appropriately with business and customer needs, automating scheduling to reduce the burden of tedious daily details, tracking drivers and teams to support efficiency and productivity and ensuring your vehicles are always well maintained.
Great scheduling software does a lot of this with automations, reducing how much time you need to spend worrying about schedules and resource allocation every week. Instead, you work to ensure the software has good data and processes. Once you do that, the software can handle a lot of the work for you.
7 Ways to Lower Fleet Maintenance Costs With Scheduling Software
There are numerous ways scheduling software can help you reduce the costs and hassle of maintaining a fleet of vehicles. This is true for small and large fleets alike. Discover seven ways to lower fleet management costs with scheduling software below.
1. Track Fuel Use and Mileage
The biggest ongoing expense associated with most fleet vehicles is fuel cost. As such, most businesses that manage vehicles want to get as many miles as possible out of their vehicles on as little fuel as possible. Fleet management solutions like Visual Planning can help you track fuel usage compared to miles driven to identify areas for improvement.
Data is your friend when you’re trying to reduce fuel consumption in your fleet. Some factors that can impact how much fuel fleet vehicles use include:
● The condition of the vehicle. A vehicle with a mechanical issue may not be as efficient as one in good working order. Looking for company vehicles that burn more fuel on similar routes can help you identify cars and trucks that might need attention. Once you troubleshoot the problem and make any necessary repairs, you may find that your fuel costs go down.
● The style of driving. You might discover that the common factor in high fuel costs is a single driver. This can be an indicator that driving style, such as inconsistent, more aggressive, or harsh driving, is using more fuel than necessary. Working to train your drivers on the most fuel-efficient driving styles can dramatically decrease costs.
● The route being driven. Imagine a scenario where a regular job site can be reached by two routes. One is shorter but involves driving up and over a mountain. The other is slightly longer but with less change in elevation. A review of fuel use may demonstrate that the longer route is less expensive. By looking at as much data as possible, you can make these types of decisions to cut down on fuel costs here and there, saving a lot of money in the long run.
● Other external factors. Traffic, whether teams leave the vehicles idling, and other factors can also impact fuel use. That can include weather, what type of equipment or cargo is being hauled or even how many team members are in each vehicle. Looking for trends and patterns can help you make the best decisions for reducing fuel costs while meeting the needs of your customers.
By gathering this fuel management data, training drivers and making fuel-friendly route choices, you can drive down fuel costs for your fleet.
2. Prevent Negligent Behavior and Bad Driving
Poor driver performance or negligent or careless behavior on the part of your teams can lead to unnecessary wear and tear on your vehicles. When you use scheduling software to monitor the routes and behaviors of your teams and drivers, you can proactively intercede to reduce this type of behavior and ensure driver safety.
For example, you may find that one driver tends to drive aggressively, coming too quickly up to speed on a road, braking a lot and weaving in and out of traffic. By retraining this driver, you can reduce fuel and repair costs. You also reduce the chances that the driver might cause a costly accident or increase the wear and tear on your vehicle by operating it inappropriately.
By tracking the condition of your entire fleet with fleet maintenance software, you can also identify patterns that may be important. For example, you may discover that one team is much more likely to bring back fleet vans with dents and dings in the side panel than others are. You can then interview those team members or even observe them in the field to see what type of careless activity is leading to these issues. Dents and dings may seem small, but stopping careless activity before it leads to bigger and more expensive fleet safety issues can be a good idea.
3. Plan to Use Fewer Vehicles
Because fleet vehicle maintenance is expensive and only gets more expensive as you add more vehicles, the ability to meet your business needs with fewer cars, trucks or vans can be important. Scheduling software lets you plan ahead based on data and forecasting so you know exactly what resources you may need and don’t have to keep as many vehicles ready “just in case.” If you find yourself considering the purchase of new vehicles to expand your fleet size, make sure your scheduling and resource management processes are as efficient as possible first.
Intelligent scheduling and fleet management software helps you understand whether certain routes can be easily merged, whether you can cover more jobs with fewer vehicles and how one or two vehicles being repaired impacts your schedule and jobs. These insights help you use resources more wisely to cut down on fleet costs across the board. After all, when you reduce the need for vehicles, you also reduce the need for drivers, fuel and other expensive resources.
4. Optimize for Shorter Routes
If miles take fuel and time, and saving money requires doing more with less, then shortening routes is an excellent approach to minimizing the cost of ownership associated with your fleet. When you shorten routes, you cut down on wear and tear for vehicles, fuel needs and the labor costs associated with paying drivers.
Scheduling software helps you understand the big-picture needs of the business for the day or week. That way, you can make data-backed decisions about routes, reducing wasted time and miles by using fleet tracking software to organize the shortest and most efficient routes to save money.
5. Create Schedules Using the Most Efficient Drivers and Vehicles
Not all drivers are the same, and maximizing your use of the most efficient drivers in your fleet helps you save time and money — which can combine to reduce operational costs for your business drastically. Scheduling software lets you look at data about your fleet’s performance on multiple levels as you decide which drivers are more efficient and how best to pair them with vehicles and routes for optimized performance and savings.
For example, you might have any number of drivers able to maximize fuel efficiency and time when navigating rural or suburban roads with little traffic. But you might only have one or two drivers that meet those same expectations when navigating routes through heavy traffic in a city. If you notice that this is the case, you can use your scheduling and fleet management software to ensure that city routes are handled primarily by these drivers.
6. Track and Optimize Fleet Management KPIs
If you haven’t already figured it out by some of the above tips, data is definitely important if you want to manage your fleet performance and save money doing it properly. By keeping track of critical fleet management KPIs, you arm yourself with the information you need to make proactive decisions about drivers, routes, jobs, schedules, vehicle maintenance and a host of other things.
Some types of metrics that are important to track when you’re managing a fleet of vehicles include, but aren’t limited to:
- Fuel use and economy
- Driving speed
- Driving behavior, such as inappropriate braking or swerving
- Safety incidents or traffic violations
- Hours of service drivers and teams put in (as well as service hours violations)
7. Proactively Address and Repair Current Maintenance Issues
Fleet maintenance and repair is another big cost of doing business when your business involves cars, vans or trucks. Staying ahead of minor repairs and necessary maintenance can help you stave off large repairs that come with much higher costs. When you use fleet management and scheduling software, you can keep tabs on routine maintenance and even automate some of the processes required to call a vehicle into the garage to perform that maintenance.
For example, you may want to have the oil changed every so-many miles and have fluids flushed and lines checked every several oil changes. You can load that information into your scheduling software and set up automated notifications for fleet drivers and managers. When vehicles in your fleet meet those milestones, the software won’t schedule them for more routes until the maintenance is completed and recorded. In this way, you can avoid fleet vehicles going over the mileage that might require maintenance and cut down on issues that can lead to costly repairs.
That also leaves your team with the resources and time to attend to repairs when they are necessary. You can even use scheduling software to forecast common repairs based on mileage and the type of routes vehicles run. That lets you have the right parts and equipment on hand to address repairs quickly and even perform preventative maintenance on vehicles still in working condition. A small repair that’s put off because you’re waiting on parts can become a big repair in the future.
Enhance Your Fleet Vehicle Maintenance Strategy With Visual Planning
Scheduling software is an important tool for businesses that manage fleets of vehicles. Learn more about why you should choose Visual Planning for fleet management. You can also request a demo to see our tools in action and better understand how they can be used to reduce fleet costs and increase productivity and fleet efficiency in your business.
Visual Planning is available on premise or in the cloud. Find out more about all Visual Planning features here, or read our case studies to understand how we are helping many companies to leverage their inner strengths.
Communicator Journalist with an Organizational Communication master degree specialized in Digital Communication from Jean Moulin Lyon 3 University. Passionate about new technologies, social medias, marketing and cooking.