Running a fleet on a budget

5 Min Read
#Fleet Management
Share Article
Fleet of vans

Running a fleet, regardless of size, is a costly affair, which makes managing your budget a crucial part of fleet management. With rising costs driving up the price of fuel, some fleet operators are looking at other means to save money.

Some things, like fuel or repairs, can't be avoided, but there are ways to significantly reduce the overall cost of your outgoings which will save you both time and money.

Picking the right ownership type for you

Ownership types for fleets can vary, bringing with them various advantages and disadvantages, depending on your business. Picking the right one for you and your fleet can ultimately result in significant savings.

Company Car Ownership

One type of fleet ownership is company car ownership. The company owns the car or vans, maintains them, and then provides the employees with the vehicles. This method is beneficial for businesses as you’ll have complete control over what vehicle is driven and can carry out regular checks to ensure that your fleet is running effectively. However, maintenance will be an ongoing cost, and no matter how well your fleet's vehicles are driven, you'll still be facing asset depreciation. When working with company car ownership, you also face a high acquisition cost when growing your fleet.

Pool Cars

Pool cars mean that any vehicle in the fleet can be used by any driver, so long as the vehicle is available. While pool cars offer flexibility in terms of availability for a wide range of drivers, particularly if your drivers work in shifts, it does mean that all vehicles must be returned to the depot so that the next driver can access them. If you have multiple depots, the challenge is lessened but still requires more forethought than other types of ownership.

Grey Fleets

We've previously discussed grey fleets which refers to drivers who own vehicles and use them for work purposes. Using a grey fleet can significantly reduce the cost of your maintenance and acquisitions. However, the reliability of your fleet is out of your hands as it's up to drivers to maintain their vehicles.

Choosing the correct form of ownership can initially be difficult, and you may find that employing more than one form is the most effective decision for your fleet. When deciding which is best for you, it's essential to factor in the distance travelled by your drivers per year, how long they're on the road and whether employees need permanent access to their cars. You may find that the money spent on your vehicles can be saved by changing your fleet's ownership style.

Changing the way your fleet is driven

Small changes in how your drivers behave can result in significant savings, dropping costs by up to 10%, or even 20% for particularly aggressive drivers. By actively encouraging good driver behaviour, especially in areas such as speed, idling and coasting, you can see a reduction in both spending and risk.

Keeping the engine running while remaining stationary, or idling, uses a considerable amount of fuel and is against the law. However, for some drivers, it’s common practice to leave an engine running to keep the radio or air conditioning on and so this behaviour needs to be corrected.  Encouraging drivers to switch the engine off when stationary can result in a noticeable decrease in the amount of fuel used, saving money, and reducing the need to visit service stations as frequently.

Similarly, coasting, the practice of driving with the clutch pushed in or with the gear stick in neutral, could actually drain fuel, and increase the likelihood of wear and tear on tyres. Coasting can also be very dangerous as you have less control of your vehicle, so this practice should be avoided whenever possible.

While these changes may seem small, when performed correctly and regularly by your drivers, the cumulative effect can result in significant savings. The time it takes to educate your fleet can be offset by the savings produced from a change in actions.

Utilising fleet management tools

Without a fleet management solution, it can be difficult for fleet managers to keep track of their drivers and vehicles, but by using an integrated telematics solution keeping an eye on your fleet can be incredibly useful.

A fleet management solution is often an upfront cost that can save you money in the long run through direct driver feedback and office reporting. Providing a real-time overview of fleets, it's possible to see how drivers behave when out on the road, which routes they're choosing to travel on and how they're managing their time.

This information can be used to assess the performance of your fleet and the decisions you may be considering making. The extra data that is provided by telematics can improve the efficiency of your fleet to the point of cutting back the number of vehicles needed to carry out jobs. Fleet management solutions can help you evaluate your fleet's needs and reduce any wastage by working smarter.

Not only can you see what your drivers are doing but mileage reports can also help you keep track of the distances covered by vehicles in your fleet. This makes it easier to plan for vehicle services, providing easy to track milestones based on distance travelled.

Fuel cards

Fuel cards can help you save fuel in a variety of ways. Primarily designed to keep track of how much fuel is spent and also limit what company money is spent on, it's easy to control your fuel outgoings with a fuel card.

The fuel cost can vary based on the type of card you purchase. With some fixing the price of fuel per week and others offering discounts and other benefits, employing fuel cards can save you a considerable amount of money.

Much like a fleet management tool, a fuel card also allows you to track the consumption of individual drivers, so you can spot areas for improvement. Our free online account management system provides access to detailed reports on your fuel cards activity which can help to reduce fuel consumption.

With a wide range of fuel cards available, each offering a variety of benefits, it can be helpful to speak to a member of our team who can help determine what's best for you and your fleet. Contact us today to find out how our fuel cards can help you save money.

Picture of employee

David James
Sales Director

David has worked in the fuel card industry since 2008. His financial insights have been featured in various publications, such as The Sun, the Daily Express and The Yorkshire Times where he provides money-saving tips for motorists. David is passionate about charity work and regularly raises money through running events, including the London Marathon and the Leeds Abbey Dash.