Expense control is a vital aspect of any business. With fuel and energy prices higher than ever, it is even more important. Now may be a good time to take a hard look at your fleet of commercial vehicles, including mileage, fuel efficiency, maintenance history, usage and age. Are you getting the best return on your investment? If not, reconfiguring your fleet could save you significant money.
A Peoria-area company recently analyzed their 18-vehicle fleet, which consisted of mostly older vehicles and two 2005 and 2006 models. On average, they were getting 12 to 13 miles per gallon and incurring significant repair and maintenance costs. But most of the vehicles were paid off. Management examined the cost of replacing the entire fleet compared to continued low fuel economy and costly repairs and maintenance. After detailed analysis, they were able to upgrade to Chevy HHR panel vehicles and Ford Ranger pick-ups without sacrificing productivity. According to their calculations, based on reduced maintenance costs and increased fuel economy, they could achieve $60,000 to $80,000 in annual savings after the cost of replacing the vehicles.
If you aren’t prepared to replace your fleet, maintenance is another way to help keep expenses down. If avehicle is not performing at its optimum level, you could be wasting money. Some ideas to consider:
- Tires: Worn-out and under-inflated tires can cost you a significant mile-per-gallon loss. Pay attention to tire inflation and condition, replacing them when necessary.
- Fuel Injectors: A properly performing fuel injector will spray a fine mist of fuel into the combustion chamber. A fouled fuel injector will spray a stream of fuel in the chamber, causing waste by injecting more fuel than necessary.
- Routine Maintenance: You cannot make money with vehicles that do not run properly. Make sure you are getting oil changes at manufacturer-suggested intervals, regular air filter changes and following other manufacturer-recommended maintenance.
You can also save money by utilizing today’s technology. Equipping your fleet with Global Positioning Systems (GPS) will help you track the location of each vehicle to allow you to make smart routing adjustments as situations occur. For example, if your company needs an item from across town, you can quickly determine which of your vehicles is best suited to “swing by” and retrieve the item, instead of wasting time and fuel on a dedicated trip. Have you ever sent a vehicle out only to find you already had someone two blocks away? It is both frustrating and inefficient. GPS may also limit your employees’ personal or extracurricular travel, if you think such activity is costing you fuel and productivity.
I encourage you to seek advice from the professionals who maintain your fleet or a local automotive dealer with a dedicated commercial vehicle department. Ultimately, you are looking for fewer repairs, greater fuel economy, increased tracking efficiency and vehicles that consistently get the job done right. iBi