When I was a kid, my family had a fat dog.
Livingston was handpicked from a selection of the finest breeds including, as far as I could tell, Gloucester Old Spot pig. We put him on a diet, with the food that’s scientifically formulated and everything, but to no avail.
As it turns out, Livingston had constructed a tunnel under our fence and was making a daily pilgrimage to the convenience store trash bin. Keeping an eye on him at home and making all the right moves just wasn’t cutting it, because when he was out of sight, we were out of mind.
Three’s a similar problem plaguing your field service business. You’ve got great drivers with good records, and you trust them with all your heart, but you can’t seem to keep fuel costs down. Morning discussions, daily updates, and shared information on the cheapest places to fill up aren’t making a mark on the bottom line.
Sounds like you’ve got a few Livingstons on your team.
Three steps to managing fuel costs
To keep Livingston healthy, we needed to fill in that hole and start looking out for new digs – also I needed to stop giving him table food. For your fleet of vehicles, though, you have three points that you need to be keeping an eye on:
- First, you have to make sure that all your equipment is running smoothly and efficiently before it ever rolls out the door. Low tires, overloaded trucks, or other mechanical issues can all cut down on your fleet’s fuel efficiency.
- Second, drivers have to be aware of how and when they fill their vehicles. The cost of fuel can vary widely over even a small town, and thousands of miles driven on slightly more expensive gas all add up.
- Finally, you need your drivers to be actively managing their day behind the wheel to maximize fuel efficiency. This is the tricky point.
You could ride along with every single driver on a regular basis to reinforce good driving habits – or, you could get some software to do it for you.
Driver tracking software
Instead of having one dog to keep track of, Eaton Sales & Service had a huge fleet of vehicles sucking up fuel and cash. To cut its costs, Eaton implemented Trimble’s field service management software. Trimble’s software tracks not only where drivers are, but how they get there.
Eaton was able to see which drivers were gunning it off the line at lights, which ones were keeping their speed consistent, and which ones were consistently hitting unsafe speeds. The company could then work with those drivers on a one-on-one basis to cut down on fuel consuming habits. As a result, Eaton cut its fuel usage by 10%, boosting customer service scores at the same time.
One of the tricks to Eaton’s success was in its demonstration of value to both the company and its employees. While it can seem Big Brother-ish, driver tracking software can actually protect employees. Customers that claim a tech arrived late can be shown otherwise, vehicles that need maintenance can be spotted more easily, and more freedom can be given to take vehicles home, cutting down on commute times for drivers.
Fleetmatics’ fuel tracking software also allows fleet managers to integrate fuel card use into the system. Managers can keep a close eye on fuel use and catch potential abuse or theft by looking at patterns in usage.
All the options add up to constant information coming in from your fleet, giving you the chance to cut back on waste even when you’re not present. If I could have kept that kind of eye on Livingston, he would have been off the oat fiber dog food months earlier.
The bottom line
Fuel costs are one of the hardest pieces of a field service company to manage. Most of the waste goes unseen and happens out in the field. With field service management software, businesses can cut costs, increase the safety of their drivers, and make their whole operation more efficient.
It’s become so easy to keep your little dog healthy, there’s no reason to watch him waddle around needlessly.
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