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Methods of Decreasing Vehicle Expenses You Might Not Think About

Originally published: 06.01.13 by Ruth King

7 tips for keeping fleet vehicle expenses low


Vehicle expenses are a major component of overhead expense. With the price of gasoline fluctuating, and ever increasing, it’s important to keep your vehicle fleet as efficient as possible. Here are seven tips you may not have thought about that will help you keep these expenses as low as possible.

1.  Have GPS systems in your trucks.
This is the best way to ensure an efficient fleet. You’ll know when the trucks move, when they are speeding, and where they are at all times. You have a huge cash investment in your fleet. GPS can decrease insurance costs and help keep your fleet efficient.

Almost every contractor recoups the cost for a GPS system in the first year the system is in use. Gasoline costs decrease. Truck use after hours and on weekends stops. Your company vehicle expenses decrease simply because your employees know someone is watching.

2.  Have the oil changed and the trucks washed during service meetings. 
Many mobile oil change companies will come to your location, even for two to three trucks. This is the most efficient use of unapplied time. Your technicians can be learning while their vehicles

are being serviced. They don’t have to spend additional, non-billable time waiting for their oil to be changed. That translates into increased revenue and decreased expenses.

3.  Check all gas receipts.
I’ve seen situations where companies paid thousands of dollars for gasoline for their employees’ personal vehicles and even their employees’ spouses’ vehicles. Require the odometer reading every time an employee fills up. Check the odometer readings and make sure your employees aren’t using the company gas card for their personal vehicles.

4.  Check tire balance and alignment regularly.
Poor alignment not only wears out tires quickly, it reduces fuel mileage.  Also, if the truck has been towed or the tires changed, check the alignment. This can be done as part of oil changes during service meetings.

5.  Purchase the most fuel-efficient trucks possible.
Always take into account the mileage, type of truck, inventory required, and driving styles when purchasing company vehicles. Find trucks that have the best gas mileage for the amount of inventory you must carry.

6.  Reduce inventory to the essentials.
The more inventory on the truck, the heavier it is and the more expensive it is to operate. If you service a rural area and don’t have access to many parts houses, your truck expenses will be higher simply because you have to carry more inventory. For companies in metropolitan areas, your inventory needs should be less because you have greater access to supply houses.

7.  Use your truck as an advertisement for your business.
This means a neat, clean truck with proper signage, including a telephone number, website address and a QR code which, when scanned, goes to a mobile version of your website. Seeing your truck could jog someone’s memory and remind the person they need a service call.  People can immediately scan the QR code on your trucks and get the information they need to call you. Track how many people call because they “saw your truck.”

A messy truck is a negative advertisement rather than a positive one, so require employees to clean their trucks regularly. When they fill up with gas, they should throw out all their food trash while they are waiting. There is no excuse for a messy truck. If the truck advertising gets attention and the person looks in the truck, a messy truck will give them a reason not to call.

Ruth King has over 25 years of experience in the hvacr industry and has worked with contractors, distributors, and manufacturers to help grow their companies and become more profitable. She is president of HVAC Channel TV and holds a Class II (unrestricted) contractors license in Georgia. Ruth has written two books: The Ugly Truth About Small Business and The Ugly Truth About Managing People. Contact Ruth at ruthking@hvacchannel.tv or 770.729.0258.

Articles by Ruth King

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