The year 2023 will be remembered as the beginning of the end of a period of record-high inflation. With inflation rates unseen in the Western world since the 1970s and 1980s, central banks moved quickly to raise interest benchmarks across the globe, leaving businesses scrambling to service higher debt payments. 
If you manage a fleet of vehicles, you have been gifted an impossible task: keep fleet costs low in an era where everything is more expensive. With fuel costs rising steadily since 2020’s oil price shock, every sector of today’s economy feels knock-down effects.
With all this in mind, finding ways to cut costs is paramount for any fleet manager. We’ve produced a list of twelve ways employers and fleet managers can improve their processes in 2024.
By taking advantage of the latest solutions like fleet management software and the growing field of fleet telematics, fleet managers can lower costs over time. But there are also simple, practical interventions such as regular oil changes and defensive driving training that don’t require much extra investment but may still yield great results.
Here are twelve simple resolutions for a safer and more prosperous 2024.
1. Assess your current fleet operations
Any employer looking to improve fleet operations must first assess conditions as they currently exist. The first order of business is a complete and thorough examination: how many driver safety incidents occurred this year? How many vehicles are now operational? Use any and all metrics available to you to produce a clear picture of your current procedures. You can’t find solutions without accurately diagnosing problems first.
2. Set clear objectives
The importance of setting a clear, tangible goal is paramount. If we choose a vague and unquantifiable goal such as “improve fleet operations,” we may not focus our energy on the most crucial domain.
In their article for the Harvard Business Review, Kelsey Alpaio and Rakshitha Arni Ravishankar suggest businesses “avoid setting one big goal” in favor of “break[ing] them down into smaller goals that you can accomplish every day.” 
Setting manageable and verifiable targets such as “reduce fuel costs by 2% over the year” or “hire five new fleet technicians” gives us a clear route forward.
Change doesn’t happen overnight but builds on successive incremental steps. Setting actionable goals makes it happen.
3. Limit vehicle downtime
How much downtime did your fleet suffer in the last fiscal year? How much of it was unscheduled? Mechanical problems, accidents, unsafe driver behavior, and asset lifespan can all contribute to unscheduled downtime (and eat into your operating budget.)
The solution to lowering downtime could involve a revamped safety policy, driver education, or good old-fashioned preventive maintenance (see tips 5, 6, and 11 below). It may include purchasing additional assets to rotate in and out as necessary. Or keeping some replacement parts on hand for minor repairs.
4. Automate What You Can
Automating the pain points of your fleet operations reduces administrative overhead and labor hours spent on routine tasks.
Whether setting up renewing monthly purchase orders with suppliers, investing in a fleet card program to manage fuel costs, or automating driver log collection with a mileage tracking app, the more tasks you can “set and forget,” the surer the path to profitability.
Read more: Cardata | Fleet Vehicle Management Software
5. Provide Training And Resources For Driver Safety
Driver behavior is a significant factor in fleet safety. The leading cause of work-related death and injury is automotive accidents, according to research by the National Security Council.  Enrolling employees in safety education courses strengthens team bonds and reduces the risk of accidents and injury.
Defensive driving skills can be taught team-wide in as little as an afternoon or two. The benefits of insurance premiums and worker’s compensation claims are likely worth the price of admission.
A proactive safety plan works perfectly in tandem with the following tip for 2024.
6. Employ Preventive Maintenance Strategies
Preventive maintenance strategies fall under the ‘floss your teeth’ and ‘eat your vegetables’ category of fleet management: boring, tedious, but vital work. We understand that many fires are usually to be put out on any given day in the shop. But taking care of these critical and often-overlooked maintenance tasks can improve fleet lifespan and efficiency dramatically:
- Check coolant levels
- Clean and replace the air filter as necessary
- Perform a diagnostic on brakes, turn signals, and headlights
- Change the oil and oil filter
- Rotate tires out
- Change transmission fluid
- Check the transfer case
- Replace spark plugs if required
Regular checkups on your organization’s assets may add a few dozen hours of paid labor, but those costs should be recouped in lowered repair orders throughout the year. 
7. Route and dispatch differently
Time to refine your routing. Geolocational apps can course-correct for driver behavior, suggesting alternate, more efficient routes. According to a June 2023 survey by Statista, approximately half of all U.S. drivers used some form of navigational app at least monthly. 
We don’t expect those numbers to change drastically in 2024. Switching drivers to fleet management software incorporating navigational features can ensure a smooth transition from Google Maps to a fleet management program that provides your business with more value on the back end.
8. Take advantage of tax strategies
Fleet managers know cars. Many began their careers as fleet technicians or mechanics; vehicles are their livelihood. This passion for automobiles only sometimes extends to the various tax structures the Internal Revenue Service offers.
Maximizing investment in tax-saving structures like a FAVR program can reduce fleet costs by double digits: the larger the fleet, the greater the potential savings. (Note that these programs only apply to personal-owned fleets, when drivers bring their personal vehicles to work.)
Here’s a success story from one of our clients, who managed to lower fleet costs by a whopping 25% after implementing a FAVR reimbursement program.
9. Ensure compliance with regulatory structures
Most U.S. states permit owners to register and renew dozens of vehicles simultaneously under a fleet license. However, each state has completely different regulatory and eligibility requirements.
Check the Department of Motor Vehicles (or equivalent) for the state in which your business (or shop) has its primary location. Some states require you to register a certain number of vehicles by weight, others by number of units.
Regulatory penalties are mostly avoidable. If your organization has run afoul of a licensing or tax agency, repair should be the first order of business.
10. Advance sustainability initiatives
The EV revolution promises to electrify fleet. With charging infrastructure becoming commonplace across America’s roadways, commercial vehicles jumping to electric seems more a question of when, not if.
Business owners must perform a cost-value analysis of fleet electrification. Electric vehicles are still developing, and costs remain higher upfront than ICE vehicles. It may be a prudent fiscal decision to wait a few years for prices to lower or when your assets reach a natural decommission point.
FleetOwner agrees, stating that “it’s not too early to start considering the future…even if your fleet doesn’t plan to start folding in electric trucks to its operations this decade.”
11. Engage your employees
Bringing drivers on board can bring greater team unity, improved health and safety conditions, and overall employee satisfaction. Meet with drivers and mechanics to hear employee concerns. Allow workers to report the conditions they encounter day to day in the performance of their duties. Drivers will know their vehicles and when something isn’t working as it should be.
Other employee engagement initiatives might be worth investing in, like forming a joint health and safety committee or partnering with labor to promote driver education. After all, happy workers are productive workers.
12. Keep good records
Ensuring employees are keeping proper mileage records is extremely important. With large fleets of fifty or a hundred vehicles, verifying mileage records against odometer readings may be challenging.
Fleet management programs automate much of the administrative labor that makes this field so demanding. Tracking mileage tracking data into employee logs simplifies submitting claims to the IRS.
Conclusion: ask an expert
How do I ring 2024 in with better fiscal management fleet-wide? There’s no shame in seeking outside counsel. Cardata has case studies to prove that switching to a personal-owned fleet model makes sense for most businesses. If you’re interested in optimizing driving operations for sales teams, merchandiser, and field technicians, it might be time to consider a vehicle reimbursement program. Or you can book a consultation with us if you want a complete diagnostic of your fleet operations.
 Planning Electrification Could Take Truck Fleets Years, Report Finds | Fleetowner
Disclaimer: Nothing in this blog post is legal, accounting, or insurance advice. Consult your lawyer, accountant, or insurance agent, and do not rely on the information contained herein for any business or personal financial or legal decision-making. While we strive to be as reliable as possible, we are neither lawyers nor accountants nor agents. For several citations of IRS publications on which we base our blog content ideas, please always consult this article: https://www.cardata.co/blog/irs-rules-for-mileage-reimbursements. For Cardata’s terms of service, go here: https://www.cardata.co/terms.