9 Ways to Improve Fleet Efficiency

Driving Van

While your fleet is central to your company’s operations, it also represents a major cost for your business. You not only have to pay for fuel and maintenance but also drivers’ time. Plus, downtime in your fleet directly impacts the revenue your business generates.

Any efficiencies you can find in your fleet can help reduce your fleet management costs and ensure your business is as productive as possible. It’s one of the best ways to boost your bottom line.

In this guide, we’ll explain what fleet efficiency is and share the nine best ways to improve fleet efficiency.

What Is Fleet Efficiency?

Fleet efficiency is a catch-all term that describes the overall productivity of your business’s fleet. What goes into determining a fleet’s efficiency won’t be the same between any two businesses because every business uses its fleet differently.

Some of the metrics that are commonly considered in determining fleet efficiency include:

  • Your vehicles’ fuel economy
  • The percentage of time your vehicles are in use
  • How much work employees who use your fleet can accomplish
  • Your on-time delivery rate
  • The accident rate among your drivers
  • The overall cost of operating your fleet

Our tips touch on all of these metrics, many of which are interconnected. For example, a higher accident rate is likely to result in a lower on-time delivery rate. A fleet with a higher fuel economy will cost less to operate for the same amount of work accomplished.

1. Use Fleet Management Software

One of the biggest things you can do to improve your fleet efficiency is to use fleet management software. Fleet management platforms enable you to track your fleet’s vehicles in real time, monitor fuel expenses, optimize routes, communicate with employees, and conduct fleet cost analysis.

To give an example of how fleet management software can reduce costs, you can compare fuel usage across drivers and see if there are any outliers. Some drivers may use more gas because of behaviors like rapid acceleration and braking. You can train these drivers on more efficient driving practices and slash your fuel costs.

Fleet management software also saves you and your drivers time by reducing manual data entry. Many platforms integrate with electronic logbooks and automatically import fleet fuel card data.

Another major benefit of fleet management software is that it helps you stay in compliance with US vehicle tracking laws. So this software could save your business from hefty fines.

2. Invest in Mobile Communications

Mobile communications apps enable you to talk and message with your employees in the field. They offer a seamless way to communicate about work and respond quickly to any changes.

For example, if you have a last-minute job come up, a communications app will let you quickly reach out to your employees to reassign them. You can also ask for updates about ongoing jobs to make real-time decisions about how to allocate upcoming tasks.

Some fleet management platforms include tools for talking to drivers, but you can also use standalone communication apps. Remember that drivers can talk but not text while driving, so choose a solution that offers voice communications in addition to messaging.

3. Optimize Your Routes

The best path for drivers to take between a series of destinations isn’t always the shortest one. Instead, it varies based on traffic patterns, road closures, delivery timeframes, and more.

Route optimization software, which is included with many fleet management platforms, accounts for these factors to find the most efficient routes for your drivers. It also helps you split up routes between employees to reduce unnecessary overlap.

Route optimization software is especially useful if your employees need to visit multiple job sites in a day or stop at many different locations to make deliveries. It can help you cut fuel costs, reduce the mileage put on your vehicles, and save employees time so they can take on more work.

4. Reduce Idling Time

Idling vehicles use a lot of fuel while not doing anything productive for your business. The more you can reduce idling time, the more you’ll save on fuel. That’s a big deal since 31% of fleet managers identified fuel costs as the biggest operational risk they face.

The best way to minimize idling time is to train your employees to turn off their vehicles instead of leaving them running. If a vehicle will idle for more than 10 seconds, it’s more fuel efficient to turn off the engine.

Another way to reduce idling is to eliminate stops. Route optimization software can help with this by minimizing the amount of time drivers spend in heavily trafficked areas and reducing left turns at busy intersections.

5. Implement Digital Checklists

Digital checklists can save you and your employees time on critical tasks like pre-trip inspections. Employees can access the checklist on their smartphone or tablet and simply tap to check inspection items off. If they find something amiss, they can quickly enter a note or even take a photo.

When the inspection is finished, employees can submit the checklist to you electronically. Required compliance data is saved instantly, and you don’t have to spend time digitizing or filing paper checklists. If an inspection identifies a problem, you can forward your employee’s notes to your mechanic so they can prepare for a repair.

6. Emphasize Preventative Maintenance

Preventative maintenance is essential for keeping your fleet vehicles running efficiently and safely. It minimizes the likelihood that your vehicles will break down unexpectedly, disrupting your business and leaving you to deal with expensive repairs—not to mention the cost of taking a vehicle out of service for an extended period.

Establish a maintenance schedule for each of your fleet vehicles and stick to it. Set up reminders and keep a log of each vehicle’s maintenance history. Most fleet management platforms make this easy, although you can also keep maintenance logs manually.

7. Establish a Vehicle Retirement Schedule

It’s better to replace aging fleet vehicles sooner, on a schedule you choose, than risk costly breakdowns. This ensures your fleet can operate without significant downtime.

Plan out a schedule to retire each of your vehicles based on years in service. If you bought multiple vehicles in the same year, such as when you founded your business, stagger their retirements so that you don’t need to replace all of your vehicles at the same time.

8. Use Scheduling Software

Scheduling software can help you ensure that all of your business’s work is covered by employees and that you haven’t assigned employees to conflicting shifts. It can also help you minimize overtime and balance workloads between employees, which is good for employee morale.

For employees, scheduling software makes it easier for them to see when and where they need to work. This minimizes the chances of an accidental no-show that could disrupt your operations.

9. Establish a Fleet Driver Training Program

Fleet driver training is essential for keeping your employees safe on the road, but it also plays a role in fleet efficiency. Accidents take vehicles and employees out of service, temporarily reducing your fleet’s capacity. Cleaning up after an accident can also be costly since you need to pay for vehicle repairs.

A fleet driver training program can coach your employees in safe driving practices. If your fleet uses telematics, you can use data about your drivers’ behaviors to determine what topics they need training on.

Next Steps

Making your fleet more efficient can help you cut fleet costs and improve your business’s productivity.

Investing in fleet management software is a great place to start since that eliminates manual data entry and includes tools for optimizing routes and tracking maintenance. Many fleet management platforms also include communication tools and digital inspection checklists.

For more efficiency gains, consider using scheduling software or establishing a fleet driver training program. In the near future, incorporating AI in fleet management could unlock even more ways to boost fleet efficiency.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you maximize fleet efficiency?
You can maximize fleet efficiency by investing in fleet management software, improving communication with drivers, and establishing a fleet driver training program. You can also cut fuel costs by reducing idling time and optimizing your drivers’ routes.
How do you measure fleet efficiency?
There are multiple ways to measure fleet efficiency. You can look at the overall cost of operating your fleet, how much time employees spend driving between jobs, or total distance traveled relative to revenue. There’s no single metric for efficiency, so it’s up to you to decide what variables matter for your company.
How can fleet managers reduce work?
Fleet managers can reduce the amount of manual work they need to do by using fleet management software. This software can import data automatically from fuel cards, inspection checklists, and electronic logbooks. It can also track maintenance events, expenses, compliance requirements, and more.
Written by:
Michael is a prolific business and B2B tech writer whose articles have been published on many well-known sites, including TechRadar Pro, Business Insider and Tom's Guide. Over the past six years, he has kept readers up-to-date with the latest business technology, corporate finance matters and emerging business trends. A successful small business owner and entrepreneur, Michael has his finger firmly on the pulse of B2B tech, finance and business.