An optimal delivery fleet is essential for any small business. Those with underperforming fleets understand the trials and tribulations involved with improvement. In a small business environment, an underperforming fleet can be extremely detrimental, as they almost always trigger a chain reaction that can negatively impact your business. For example, shoddy maintenance, uneven fuel expenditure, and disenchanted operators can all lead to a myriad of costs and issues. However, there are plenty of ways to save costs while effectively managing a delivery fleet. All of them involve effectively managing costs in a way that concurrently improves the management system. Here are a few tips on how small business owners can effectively manage a fleet delivery system.
Optimize Your Routes
In order to get better performances from your fleets, you will need to optimize your routes. Keep in mind that this step requires a lot of testing, some of which might result in some financial losses. However, your data will improve the longer you stay in business. Conversely, if you have been in business for a while, you may already have the relevant data necessary to optimize your routes. Once you have the data, study it over and over until you have a good idea of which routes are profitable and which ones are detrimental.
A good route will adhere to several factors. It should be continuous, multi-pickup, multidrop, and able to be repeated when necessary. Avoiding long distance trips that take several days is essential to keeping costs down. Additionally, route optimization also involves selecting the proper vehicle for the job. Examples would be a fuel-efficient van or a spacious truck, depending on the cargo. It makes no sense to use a huge, fuel-guzzling truck for smaller deliveries.
Use Optimization Tools
In addition to implementing a gps fleet tracking system, using fleet management software is an ideal option for any fleet manager. Doing so will help you create ideal routes, as well as discover new opportunities that may have otherwise gone unnoticed. Potential improvements include ensuring that vehicles can travel continuously without stopping. Doing so will minimize times when a vehicle travels without any cargo. These periods are typically referred to as “empty miles”.
Additionally, fleet management software can record individual driver behavior, such as acceleration, breaking, idle times, and other factors that have an adverse impact on fuel usage. Typically, fuel accounts for almost a quarter of total operating costs, so minimizing its expenditure will immediately save your business money.
Besides fuel, fleet management software can also assist with maintenance tracking monitoring engine diagnostics. Implementing this kind of software will allow management to track diagnostic codes as they fluctuate along the preselected route. This is also an excellent means of tracking any problems before they occur, often before the driver is even aware of them. This will reduce the potential for accidents and save you a lot of money on insurance costs. Typically, most of this information is saved for about a month, though can be retained longer at the fleet manager’s discretion.
Implementing fleet management software is a cost-effective way to manage your fleet from a remote location. The best way to get the hang of it without spending too much money right out of the gate is to start with a minimal package and expand in accordance with business needs. You could also sign up for a monthly plan, which will incur a small monthly fee for a greater range of services.
Since optimal performance is associated with the total number of empty miles, it is a good idea to encourage drivers to meet a certain goal in order to reduce costs and optimize fleet operations. Fortunately for fleet managers, this process begins at the hiring phase. Hiring drivers with a natural inclination toward competition will reward incentive-based management, as they will already have a proclivity for striving for excellence. Consequently, this type of performance will result in fewer accidents, less fuel expenditure, and reduced maintenance and insurance costs. Part of the success of this phase requires a balance between monitoring an employee and making sure they feel like their presence is important and valued by the company. This will ensure that you retain as many quality drivers as possible, while appropriately weeding through the inadequate ones.
Replace Outdated Vehicles
It’s gas prices escalating, it makes sense to have a fuel efficient vehicle. However, what is one to do when the vehicle itself is expensive? Because of recent federal regulations, there is a host of fuel-efficient vehicles that will help you get the job done. Just think of it as an investment that will save you money over time.