How Fleets Can Save Money: Complete Guide

If you own, operate, or manage a trucking fleet, you're probably seeking ways to deal with spiraling. Fleet maintenance costs increased by 3.7% during the fourth quarter of 2021 and were 10% higher overall than the previous year, a significant burden for even the most fiscally sound business operations. 

Escalating fuel prices are having an even more dramatic impact on fleet costs. Over two months in the spring of 2022, diesel prices jumped by an astounding $1.50 per gallon, reaching a national average of $5.62. Some areas saw the price exceed $6 per gallon. 

Trucking operations like yours can implement several solutions to reduce fleet expenses and remain competitive and profitable in a challenging marketplace.

Audit Your Fleet's Performance

Fleet managers sometimes make the mistake of thinking they know where all their trucking costs come from and that spending is under control. However, companies that have trouble staying within their operating budgets aren't monitoring their fleet costs effectively. The outcome of this negligence can be thousands of dollars that seem to vanish into thin air. 

You can track your fleet costs and manage your budget more efficiently by calculating your total cost of ownership. This metric represents the purchase price of an asset plus the cost to operate it. By calculating TCO, you accurately measure what it costs to run your trucking fleet. You can also identify potentially burdensome assets and implement corrective measures. 

In many cases, a TCO-based audit will uncover minor issues that are relatively easy to amend. Once you've made the necessary adjustments, you can track the results and monitor the impact on your operating costs. Positive results typically occur quickly when employing this method. 

Prioritize Preventive Maintenance

The average cost of a truck repair in 2020 was $411, an 18% increase over the previous year. If it seems your trucks are always in the shop, you're probably spending too much money on repairs. And a truck that's off the road isn't available to deliver goods to your customers. 

Timely maintenance can reduce fleet management costs by preventing many of these expensive repairs. Here are the areas to focus on.

Adhering to Appropriate Maintenance Intervals

Most manufacturers recommend performing “dry” maintenance every 10,000 to 25,000 miles. Examples of these steps include inspecting major components, refilling fluids, lubrication and checking tire pressure. “Wet” maintenance, including oil and filter changes and other services, should occur every 25,000 miles. 

Preparing for Unexpected Repairs and Breakdowns

Even well-maintained trucks may experience mechanical failures that require service. It's crucial to set aside funds to cover these events, the most common of which are clutch, cooling and charging system issues. 

Maintaining Tires

Tires comprise approximately 3% of a truck's operating expenses. Proper and timely tire maintenance can lengthen the time between replacements, improve fuel mileage and keep drivers safe. 

Preventative fleet maintenance best practices

Optimizing Fleet Routes and Fuel Expenses

Another way to reduce trucking fleet costs is to set up more efficient delivery routes by eliminating unnecessary miles. Route optimization software is available that enables dispatchers to automate the planning process. The software's algorithms can deliver more accurate results than manual route planning methods. The data from these systems can also provide insight to help run the daily operations and develop fuel-efficient fleet management strategies.

Fleet managers can take additional steps to reduce fuel consumption and related costs.

  • Driver training: Teach your drivers to develop fuel-saving habits while they're behind the wheel. Discourage practices such as aggressive driving, rapid acceleration, hard braking and excessive idling. 
  • Proper vehicle maintenance: Timely service keeps trucks running more efficiently and allows them to burn less fuel.
  • Reduce truck size and weight: Transitioning to smaller, lighter vehicles is another way to reduce fuel consumption and save money. Trailers with aluminum bodies can reduce vehicle weight without sacrificing strength or durability.
  • Use fuel cards: Company-issued fuel cards make it easier to track and monitor fuel spending. Many offer cost-saving discounts and other perks.

How to optimize your fleet's routes and fuel expenses

Reduce Toll Violations and Citations

Trucking companies and owner-operators pay approximately $4.2 billion in tolls annually. Toll violations and citations can result in additional — and avoidable — business costs. Violations can occur for several reasons. Some drivers also use the company-issued transponders that identify and record trucks as they pass through the toll lane or gantry on their personal vehicles, creating an additional expense. 

Trucking companies often misclassify their vehicles, which can lead to higher rates. For example, if a business classifies a truck for five axles when it has seven, it must make up the difference. The extra costs can add up quickly if this mistake occurs across large fleets consisting of multiple vehicles. 

Violations may also occur if a toll facility operator cannot identify a truck's transponder or license plate. The authority will then attempt to reference the DMV records in the applicable state to make a match. It will then pass on this cost to the trucking company. 

Trucking fleets must implement stringent measures to reduce these and other unnecessary toll-related expenses. 

What are toll violations and how to manage them

Use a Toll Management Solution

Using the appropriate technology is essential for preventing costly toll violations and citations. An advanced toll management system provides a proactive fleet tolling solution that ensures data accuracy, consolidates payments and saves users time and money. It also identifies ways to save on tolls and provides insight and awareness regarding how they impact your fleet. 

Bestpass serves the toll management needs of 70 of the top 100 trucking fleets in the United States. Get coast-to-coast coverage for your fleet, simplifying management by providing one bill under a single point of contact. We can provide a customized toll solution featuring a business-specific transponder plan encompassing deployment, tracking and assignment. Our programs also include toll-by-plate coverage to reduce violations and online reporting accessibility.

Bestpass toll management solutions can help prevent transponder abuse. You can set up exclusion zones that notify you if someone attempts to complete a toll transaction at an unusual time. We also offer roof- and license plate-mounted transponders that are challenging to move to other vehicles.

What is a toll management solution

Learn More About Ways to Reduce Fleet Costs

Is finding viable solutions to reduce fleet costs a priority for your trucking company? Are you an owner-operator looking for ways to minimize expenses?

The Bestpass team is ready to help. Contact us for more information today. If your fleet consists of at least six vehicles, you can also sign up for our toll management solutions.

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