Whether you have a few company cars or a fleet of several dozen trucks, you can save money on fuel by making minor changes to your operations and driving.
With the price of fuel hovering at just under $4 per gallon, companies with fleets of cars and trucks are feeling a pinch on their profits as they spend more getting their vehicles from place to place.
Truly the best way to limit consumption is to drive less, but that isn't always possible for many businesses. Small practices like limiting excess weight in a vehicle or keeping windows rolled up can make an impact over time, but often it takes more "big picture" thinking to make dramatic gains in fuel consumption.
Here are a few creative ways to change your business' operations with big returns.
1. Train your drivers to drive
Driving habits, such as how you start and stop your vehicle or how you shift gears, may seem like inconsequential habits when it comes to fuel efficiency, but bad driving can rack up enormous fuel bills. In fact, depending on its size, as much as 33 percent of a vehicle's fuel consumption is affected by how the driver operates it, Jason Mathers, project manager at the Environmental Defense Fund and author of a white paper on how truck fleets can reduce fuel consumption, says.
"We've all been in a taxi, and we all know that stereotypical bad taxi ride," Mathers says. "The more that your drivers fit that driving style, the more of a problem you have."
Mathers recommends teaching your drivers not to accelerate too quickly or slam on the breaks, as these habits consume gas quickly. Jonathan Byrnes, author of "Islands of Profit in a Sea of Red Ink" and president of Jonathan Byrnes & Co, a consulting company, says drivers need to be taught and reminded to drive steadily and know when to turn off a vehicle when at a standstill.
Additionally, both drivers and companies need to be aware of traffic patterns and the time of day when delivering a load or driving a vehicle, as many routing algorithms do not take these things into account. Avoiding heavy traffic and red lights will mean less starting and stopping.
If you've educated and reminded your drivers to drive in a more fuel-efficient way but it's not saving as much money as you'd hoped, try incentivizing the practice. If you have one driver per delivery or vehicle, you can track the miles per gallon used in a given amount of time. At the end of a week or month, offer a reward, such as a gift certificate, to the driver with the best MPG.
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