A highway scene with a white truck leading the traffic, surrounded by a green landscape and modern buildings in the background.

How much is fuel costing your business? Are your drivers as productive as they could be? If you're anything like the thousands of other small business owners in the UK, these are questions that are likely to pop into your head daily. When you're on a tight budget and cash flow is always a concern, trimming expenses down to size is a top priority. You can shrink overheads and claw back cash in many different ways, but one you may have overlooked is the humble GPS tracker.

With a device fitted to each of your company vehicles, whether staff cars, fleet vans or delivery vehicles, you can take control of your business mileage and save a considerable amount each year. It's not just fuel either, as GPS trackers can save you money in other ways and boost efficiency and productivity.

Trimming mileage down to size

Using GPS trackers, you can cut mileage and therefore extend the life of your vehicles. The biggest immediate saving, however, is fuel. Here are just some of the ways tracking technology can reduce mileage and fuel consumption:

  • Choosing the fastest and shortest routes. Your driver may think they are taking the best possible route, perhaps using a satellite navigation device, but a fleet manager watching in real-time thanks to the information transmitted by a GPS tracker may think otherwise. Mapping out all driver's routes and monitoring them in real-time can identify slow spots, caused by traffic or congestion, as well as cutting out on dead ends and choosing the speediest possible routes.

  • Optimising stops and deliveries. GPS trackers can help to make your fleet vehicles work more efficiently together. A fleet manager can look at the number of scheduled stops or delivery points and plan an efficient route so that one vehicle can dramatically improve its productivity and use less fuel to do more.

  • Improving driver behaviour. A GPS tracking device will provide you with all kinds of useful information, including the speed of the vehicle. If a particular driver is driving in a way that unnecessarily hikes up mileage figures or perhaps claims for non-work related mileage, you'll be able to see it thanks to the tracker and take the required action. You may want to train and educate your driver, or perhaps something more drastic if you've spotted misconduct that is costing the company a lot of money.

Vehicle value Vehicles with more miles on the clock are likely to decrease in value quicker and require more maintenance over the years. High mileage can also force you to have to replace vehicles more frequently. By using GPS trackers in the ways outlined above, you can add extra years to your vehicle's operating life and keep its value steady.

GPS trackers can also help you when a vehicle is lost or stolen. Rather than having your insurance premiums go through the roof by making a claim, you can use the technology to locate a stolen vehicle and provide exact location data to the authorities. A vehicle thief will probably have no idea that the car is being tracked, so you could catch the culprit and recover your vehicle without losing any money or having to claim your insurance.

Boosting productivity

As well as reducing mileage, planning and optimising for better routes and driving can help you get more done each day. If each driver can fit in just one more delivery or one more stop every day due to improved efficiency on the roads, this can make a big difference to your company's turnover and productivity. They may even be able to do more than this, making your GPS tracker seem like a very sound investment.

You can also use GPS trackers to uncover bad and unproductive employee behaviour, such as excessive lunch breaks or driving on personal errands during work. For example, a driver may report several hours spent on business-related tasks in their vehicle, but your tracking information may prove otherwise. It may say that the driver spent 90 minutes stationary at a motorway service station or popping into a local shopping centre before their designated work hours were up. This behaviour costs you money, and you may never discover it without a GPS tracking device.

Other cost-saving benefits

Your GPS trackers may also offer other savings and benefits, including:

  • * Reducing the number of speeding and other fines your drivers receive.
  • * Cut overtime pay due to improved efficiency in route planning.
  • * To lower your insurance premiums, insurers offer discounts for vehicles and fleets that use GPS tracking technology. You may also be able to avoid claiming on your insurance by recovering stolen vehicles using GPS trackers.
  • * Improving customer service, as your drivers can visit more properties daily and arrive exactly when they say they will. This could result in a boost for business, as well as your company image.

For a relatively small investment, you'll find that GPS tracking devices pay for themselves before very long. Remember that the pennies they could save you on each journey made by one of your company vehicles each day will add to a significant saving as the weeks, months, and years go by.  At the end of the year, you'll be amazed at how much you'll have saved, plus you'll also have the satisfaction of knowing that your operation is as efficient as possible.

For a small business struggling to make ends meet, this saving could be the difference between having the cash to expand and grow and going under due to the burden of hefty bills for expenses. It's a fine line that SME and start-up owners have to walk to get their businesses off the ground, but harnessing technology could be the way to give yourself more of an advantage over your competitors.