April 9, 2023
In the times we’re in, you can never pass on an excellent opportunity to save money. Fleet Management is no exception. It’s striking how much money is often wasted on fleets large and small, money dripping away like an unnoticed oil leak. Effective Fleet Maintenance software can help you overcome this, reducing costs and can even help to highlight money drains you might not have otherwise noticed.
Let’s have a look at how.
It should go without saying that preventive maintenance is key to maintaining a healthy (and cost-efficient) fleet. Ensure your vehicles are brought in for Vehicle Health Checks (VHCs) at their manufacturer’s appointed interval. This is also the case for ensuring that they are serviced according to guidelines. There’s no point saving money by skipping a service. This practice can have a knock-on effect and lead to unnecessary repairs that could even lead the manufacturer to reject a warranty claim (and we’ll discuss this more later).
An excellent Fleet Maintenance system can save you on having multiple CRMs too. Rather than having one vehicle CRM, one Accounting CRM and another system for job authorisation (with perhaps even a separate VHC and Video system ), a system like ForWare has it all in one, including integrated Billing. It saves you on multiple subscriptions, and staff training also speeds up the onboarding of new team members who might otherwise have to learn numerous systems before being ‘let loose’. Fewer vehicles off the road also mean less need for spare capacity in your fleet, another significant saving.
Service Plans are a vital consideration for any fleet manager – these reduce administrative efforts and give you better deals that you wouldn’t get on a pay-as-you-go basis. You are guaranteed a set price that won’t increase for your scheduled services by paying for the labour upfront. You don’t even have to spend time researching the best option – ForWare now has service plan templates that can be customised for any brand you use with full retail cost parts and labour pricing. It also includes the relevant part numbers and operation codes. You can simply build your plan and add them on to your vehicles, saving on time and money. When a vehicle is due for a service, just use ForWare to cost it off against your service plan and bill it accordingly. Your Service Level Agreements should also be embedded into your system for every vehicle that is added. ForWare even includes service reminders for both the workshops and the customer.
Indeed, ForWare allows you to increase your Parts efficiency generally. You can pre-purchase a basket of service parts at a bulk discount depending on the plan – this fixed price will protect it against future inflation. It’s also ideal for variable but common repairs such as wiper and tyres. Different vehicles have different requirements, and the system will remember the ones specific to each. This saves on annoying, time-wasting calls inquiring about what type of tyre a vehicle uses, for example, speeding up the process and reducing downtime further. With stock management and by buying parts in advance, you avoid frustrating situations whereby a driver is told to come back tomorrow because the garage doesn’t have their vehicle’s tyre type in stock.
As mentioned earlier – you can’t underestimate the importance of servicing as per manufacturer requirements – don’t let the customer overrun on the service schedule by neglecting to bring their vehicle for a service when needed. By doing this you will protect your warranty and could save you a lot of money if something goes wrong, which, as we will now discuss, can happen…
Maintain your service history documentation – you will be asked for this if you submit a warranty claim. It’s quite common for manufacturers to reject warranty claims simply because the recommended service wasn’t carried out at their specified interval. That means the cost is passed on to you – having to fund a gearbox repair will put a nasty dent in your budget.
With an inefficient system, this is where it can all go very wrong. To get the best result, your service providers need to have access to your system to maintain the service history for you.
Aside from maintaining service histories, ForWare also allows tracking of warranty jobs on the system. It also doesn’t tie you down to one garage – this information is accessible at ANY authorised garage using the ForWare system – meaning that all your data is in one place and can be downloaded and analysed.
Analyse your data regularly. Spend analysis is another area where good Fleet Maintenance software can help. For example, ForWare includes financial reporting that allows you to track spend and analyse where the money goes. Spot trends. Is a specific type of vehicle regularly going through a particular part? Are their indications that the type of vehicle might not best suit an individual driver’s needs? These findings could be something to keep in mind regarding your next wave of fleet renewal. Even if the job is warranty-covered, it can still cost you money in downtime, so such trends are well worth keeping an eye on. Having service plans on your fleet can effectively write your service budget.
Vehicle downtime is a significant area where you can lose revenue. Having an effective Fleet Maintenance system can help here by helping to reduce repeat visits or delays while awaiting work authorisation. In fact, not only can a sound Fleet Maintenance system reduce repeat visits – it can minimise repeat JOBS. You read that right – you’d be amazed at the number of times vehicles end up with the same repair done within a year all because records weren’t maintained properly.
Perhaps the most prominent area of hefty spending for any fleet is fuel. Yes, it’s a variable expense, but this is where good driver training comes in. Emphasise your drivers the importance of good fuel economy – encourage fuel-efficient driving styles – you could even offer an incentive for whoever is the most fuel-efficient each month. It helps keep a record of what each vehicle and/or driver is using on fuel per km. Through analysis, you may well discover that a particular vehicle type is excessively fuel heavy (and remember this is when it comes to replacing your fleet). There may also be drivers themselves who tend to burn more fuel per km than others!
You could also encourage your drivers to plan their routes carefully and creatively to avoid common holdups and wasted time idling.
Good driver training also affects your fleet running costs in general. Discouraging harsh use of the clutch, for example, will avoid having to fund costly gearbox repairs down the road (Manufacturers often cite improper clutch use as a reason for rejecting these repairs under warranty – not something anyone wants to hear).
You can reinforce this training by helpful notices in canteens, staff bulletins, dashboard stickers, etc.
Telematics is one of the most awaited features, and it’s coming soon in ForWare. Earlier I mentioned how driving style and fuel usage could subtly but surely impact on fleet running costs. This will make keeping tabs of fuel cost, mileage, and general wear and tear much more comfortable than relying on manual processes and spreadsheets.
All told, quality Fleet Maintenance software such as ForWare can do wonders for reducing financial outlay across your business. A system that can adapt to changes in your business or support additional revenue streams these days is a must – Covid 19 has shown us that we need to be able to change our process very quickly and that our systems need to be able to keep up; the last thing you want to hear is you’ll need to raise a ticket for that. System flexibility and scalability are not merely a ”nice to have” – it’s a requirement. Sound systems and the right processes are what saves time and money – just because you have always done it a particular way doesn’t mean that it can’t be done better!
Start tracking all your fleet expenses today with a free trial of ForWare fleet maintenance software. You’ll be amazed at what you might save.
Alan is a positive and proactive automotive professional with over 25 years of extensive experience in the motor trade.
Alan has been vital in developing and driving the ForWare System and implementing core workshop processes with some of the most significant state and private fleets in Ireland, the UK and Europe.
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