Fleet Card Data Can Help Improve Fleet Performance

Effective fleet management is all about efficiency—optimizing different aspects of a fleet for better performance. When the words performance or efficiency come up, it’s natural for fleets to think primarily about how to optimize their vehicles. However, fleet performance includes much more than reducing miles per gallon. How drivers spend money impacts financial performance, and how they drive can affect things like fuel consumption and vehicle wear.

The truth is fleet performance includes effectively managing everything from vehicles to drivers, fuel costs to fuel economy and expense reports to annual budgets.

Fleet cards, or fuel cards, are powerful fleet management tools that can help improve fleet performance in many ways. While some fleet managers use fleet fuel cards to consolidate fuel costs and save money at the pump, these alternatives to credit cards offer much more than convenience—and it all comes down to real-time data.

Understanding Fleet Card Data

Before exploring the benefits of fleet card data, let’s look at what it is.

When a driver or employee uses a fleet card, the transaction details are captured. This information includes the type of fuel purchased, the date and time of the transaction, volume and dollar amount, odometer readings, etc. Fleet card data offers insights into fuel costs, fuel efficiency, vehicle performance and compliance with company policies and regulations.

Let’s explore how fuel card data can give insights into vehicle performance, driver behavior, and fuel expensing.

Analyzing Vehicle Performance

Fleet vehicle performance has a significant impact on a company. On-time deliveries require cars, trucks and vans to be in top working order. Fuel budgets are easier to meet when engines consume less fuel. Properly maintained vehicles last longer. So much of a fleet’s efficiency depends on the state of fleet vehicles themselves.

Fuel Consumption Analysis

Fuel costs make up a significant portion of a fleet’s budget. Fleet card data offers detailed insights into fuel usage patterns. Using this information, fleet managers can identify areas where efficiency can be improved. For instance, you can detect inefficient vehicles, assess drivers and improve routing.

Identifying Inefficient Vehicles

Once you recognize a vehicle’s poor fuel performance, you can determine if it needs maintenance, repairs or replacement. Either way, addressing maintenance issues before they become more serious can help save time and money.

Assess Driver Performance

When drivers consistently use more fuel than their peers using similar vehicles or driving the same routes, it’s time to intervene. If you determine a driver’s habits negatively affect fuel economy, your fleet manager can intervene with training and education.

Understanding Routings Impact on Fuel

With fleet card data, managers can do a comparative analysis of existing routes. When a route’s average fuel costs suddenly change, it may be time to examine shifts in traffic patterns, the placement of new lights, changes in speed limits or the presence of construction zones. Consistently evaluating your routes can help drivers spend more time driving and less time idling and can help improve cash flow.

Fleet Card Data and Vehicle Maintenance Insights

Regular maintenance is crucial for the longevity and efficiency of fleet vehicles. If fleet cards are enabled for vehicle maintenance charges, the resulting data can help create robust historical records of maintenance activities”

Studies show properly maintained vehicles tend to have fewer breakdowns and better fuel economy. Reducing downtime and repair costs is a great way to help improve your company’s bottom line.

Sudden shifts in fuel performance may indicate something is amiss with your vehicles. By analyzing shifts in fuel usage, you can consider preventive maintenance. When a vehicle dips in fuel efficiency, running a quick diagnostic may reveal a maintenance need you would have missed.

Enhancing Driver Performance Through Accountability

Your drivers can significantly impact vehicle performance and longevity. Monitoring their performance is crucial to optimizing fleet efficiency. It gives you the information you need to educate and train better employees and helps you reward your drivers who are doing well. Both of these factors can help improve your fleet’s overall performance.

Monitoring Driver Behavior

Fleet card data can help reveal patterns of speed, idling, route adherence and unauthorized usage. With this information, a fleet manager can implement targeted training programs and education. Sharing this information with drivers also increases driver accountability and can help promote safer driving practices.

Incentivizing Efficient Driving

In addition to identifying additional driver training and education opportunities, fleet card data can be used to develop incentive programs that reward efficient and safe drivers. Rewarding your top performers fosters a culture of excellence and responsibility among drivers and can help improve fleet performance.

Financial Performance and Fleet Card Data

Optimizing your fleet vehicles and ensuring you have well-trained drivers is critical to having a high-performing fleet. These two aspects of fleet management can also significantly impact cash flow. Likewise, there are features of a fleet card that directly affect your business’s financial performance. Like everything else, it all comes down to fleet card data.

Using your fleet card, you can streamline fuel expense reporting and control fuel costs.

Automated Fuel Expense Reporting

Your fleet card data is instrumental in tracking and managing fleet expenses — and the process begins at the pump. Fuel transactions are tracked in real time and logged in your fleet card dashboard. This means all the details of a receipt are automatically collected. Payment details include:

  • Date and time of purchase.
  • The volume of fuel.
  • The amount of the purchase.
  • Fueling location.
  • Product type (gas vs. diesel).
  • Grade (unleaded vs. premium).
  • Driver ID.
  • Odometer readings.

With a fuel card, your drivers have no need to collect receipts or submit fuel expense reports.

Detailed transaction data enables managers to accurately track fuel, maintenance and other operational expenses. With access to real-time data, managers can also promptly identify cost outliers or anomalies, allowing timely intervention to address unauthorized purchases or overspending.

Since all data can easily be sent to most accounting or bookkeeping platforms, your accounting department has everything it needs for historical analysis. You always know how much is spent and locations frequented, and you can view trends. Business owners can use that data to facilitate budget forecasting and allocation, enabling better financial planning.

Controlling Fuel Costs with Fleet Cards

Fleet fuel cards often include fuel rebates or discounts and are equipped with purchase controls. Both can help you realize savings on fuel.

Rebates are often available for fuel purchases made at specific branded gas stations. By choosing a fleet card that includes a fuel rebate at stations businesses frequent, those fleets can save every time they fill up company vehicles.

Purchase controls mean a fleet manager or business owner can customize how a card can be used. Some standard purchase controls are:

  • Purchase limits: restrict how much can be spent on each transaction.
  • Volume limits: set a gallon cap for each transaction.
  • Usage days: preselect what days of the week a card can be used.
  • Time limits: approve purchase for certain times of day.

Purchase limits are an ideal and simple way to manage fuel costs. By setting limits that align with your fuel policy, you’re also setting your drivers up for success.

Fleet Cards and Security

Part of running an efficient fleet is ensuring uninterrupted performance, which includes avoiding things like misuse and fraud. Fortunately, fleet cards are equipped with several security features, and with the help of real-time data and purchase limits, fleet managers know when something is amiss and can act immediately.

Security Features of a Fleet Card

Most fleet cards require a Personal Identification Number (PIN) to authorize a purchase. A driver must enter the PIN before a fuel purchase can be made. This is a great feature to prevent a lost or stolen card from being used.

Real-time Data and Security

With real-time data, fleet managers can monitor purchases for suspicious activity or set alerts to warn them of potential fraud or misuse.

Purchase Limits and Security

Purchase limits do more than help reduce fuel spend. When a lost or stolen card is used by someone unfamiliar with the purchase limits or a company’s policy, the attempt will be flagged and a fleet manager can take measures to keep the account secure.

Fleet Card Data Can Improves Performance

In an era where data is king, leveraging fleet cards as a business fleet solution is not just an option…it’s a necessity.

Fleet card data can help enhance fleet efficiencies. With insights into fuel consumption, vehicle maintenance records, driver behavior, finances and overall fleet operations, fleet managers can make informed decisions, help optimize efficiency and help reduce costs.

In an era where data is king, leveraging fleet cards as a business fleet solution is not just an option…it’s a necessity.