By Jordan Horn
Does your company utilize a vehicle in your day to day operations? Deliveries, Long hauls, short hauls, or offer services offsite? Business owners understand recording repairs and maintenance, fuel costs, insurance payments although, how many are concerned about recording miles in routine increments; monthly, weekly, or even by trip. Maintaining logs of such activity might seem time consuming although, the information gleamed can be invaluable to improving profitability. Large companies with dedicated mechanics and truck shops understand different factors and how they affect fuel economy and attempt to record data to better maintain vehicles through preventative maintenance and data collection. The top four factors that can affect average fuel economy include:
• Drivers Habits
• Travel Conditions
• Vehicle Maintenance
• Fuel Variations
Having a baseline of expected fuel economy and then comparing to actual trip miles and efficiency can aid in feedback to new drivers. Speeding, quick acceleration, braking habits, excessive idling will all affect your bottom line and tank fuel economy. In some businesses such as delivery you expect some level of loss of efficiency if you have a policy to let the vehicle idle at short stops to move quickly through the route and get extra stops. If you have a driver with zero corrective feedback or standard to achieve then your fuel costs could be significantly higher year over year or driver to driver. If you ignore logging and tracking, then you miss the opportunity to boost profitability.
Travel conditions can also affect fuel consumption. Factors such as weather, weight of loads, use of electrical accessories such as the air conditioner, and the terrain you are traveling. For instance, on a sunny spring day on a flat highway you would expect greater fuel economy than on an uphill trip through a suburban area with wind gusts. Understanding the job you are traveling for empowers you to set pricing to cover the haul through understanding of the profit margin. If the individual booking the job and miscalculates even a large dollar haul you could be losing money or have a loss in potential if you took two smaller jobs.
The weight of your load is another aspect to strictly analyze and determine pricing. If you are a truck driver who hauls vehicles from one dealership to another knowing the ideal amount of vehicles to pull and location to place them on the trailer to reduce wind drag will affect your fuel economy and affect your overall profitability at the end of the year. If you have a flat haul rate regardless of season or gross weight than your margins might be acceptable at optimum performance and very small or at a loss at any change in travel conditions.
Vehicle maintenance can also affect your fuel economy. Something as simple as properly aligned tires and air pressure will affect your pulling capacity and your efficiency. Another maintenance tip which you generally are asked about during your routine oil change is your air filter. It seems like such a small aspect to the efficiency of your engine although, it is vital for your intake system. The proper combination of air and fuel is what allows your engine to perform at optimum efficiency. In addition, if dirt is getting into your engine than you shorten the life of your vehicle overall. I always encourage individuals to investigate proper preventative maintenance schedules because it protects and lengthens the life of your assets. And in a hauling business your asset, your truck, is your business.
Empower yourself and your employees by understanding the business factors that affect your profitability. Knowledge is power, and it will empower your employees to improve your net income each week and ultimately each year. I always recommend selecting four factors that make the greatest impact to your profitability and actively track those standards and communicate them to every employee if you have one or a thousand employees they will give attention to what is important to you, the boss. So next time you take your truck on the road track your miles and calculate your average fuel consumption and see if it what you expected. And if not, start tracking and investigate why because every penny counts!