Your Guide to Dedicated Fleets and How Fuel Cards Can Help
If your business has recurring shipping or transportation needs, it’s possible that establishing your own private fleet has crossed your mind. For many businesses, this ends up being a beneficial move—they’re able to hire their own drivers, arrange shipments themselves to keep up with demand, and generally have more control over delivery management and operations.
But establishing a private fleet can be extremely challenging (not to mention, expensive), so it’s not a feasible option for every business. Private fleets and their management require significant upfront investments, recurring maintenance costs, and an entirely new group of employees.
Fortunately, if you don’t have the resources or desire to take up a private fleet of your own, there’s a cost-effective alternative: hiring a dedicated fleet. Below, we’re diving into what dedicated fleets are, how they can benefit your business, and how fuel cards can make managing them easier than ever.
Dedicated Fleet Meaning
What is a dedicated fleet? A dedicated fleet is a third-party operation that handles your business’ shipping and transportation needs for you. Hiring a dedicated fleet typically involves entering into a contract with a service provider for a set amount of time.
Dedicated fleets are different from private fleets, which are fleet operations owned and managed by the shipper themselves. In other words, shipping and transportation aren’t the shipper’s primary business, but rather an in-house operation that supports the primary business, such as a retail or manufacturing operation 1.
Dedicated fleets offer many of the benefits of a private fleet while requiring less management, lower costs, and lower risk.
The Benefits of Dedicated Fleets
Owning a private fleet is a significant investment, and not every business is capable of covering the expenses they require, especially up-and-coming businesses.
Fortunately, dedicated fleet services offer an affordable alternative, and they can even supplement an existing private fleet when necessary. By using a dedicated fleet, your business can experience a wide variety of benefits to help you maximize returns and further expand your operations, such as:
Lower Operational Costs
Hiring a dedicated fleet generally costs less than building your own private fleet from the ground up. Not to mention, pre-arranging contracts for recurring shipment needs can further reduce operational fleet management costs, and having a locked-in rate can make it easier to manage other business expenses.
With a dedicated fleet, you also don’t have to worry about making high-cost investments in:
- Other transportation equipment
- Vehicle maintenance, repair, insurance, and registration
- Fleet management software and technologies
- Driver employment
Greater Flexibility with Shipment and Scheduling
A dedicated contract carriage arrangement allows a motor carrier fleet to anticipate your business needs in advance, as well as on a recurring basis. This means you’ll likely be able to enjoy a greater shipping capacity than with a limited private fleet.
Additionally, a dedicated fleet can often help you quickly arrange any urgent or last-minute shipment requests, whereas last-minute shipping capabilities or last mile delivery challenges with a private fleet will depend solely on your own driver and vehicle availability.
Similarly, during high-demand shipping times (for instance, during the holidays), you don’t have to worry about being limited by the number of vehicles in your private fleet. Instead, you can rely on your dedicated fleet carrier to supply the additional vehicles you need to support your increased product demand.
Ability to Handle Specialized Shipments
Working with a dedicated fleet can make it easier to handle shipments that may require specialized equipment or specific transportation conditions. This could be due to a certain shipment’s:
- Temperature requirements
Access to Shipping and Transportation Experts
When you hire a dedicated fleet, you’re hiring transportation professionals who understand the trucking industry and shipping logistics inside and out.
This allows you access to expert advice when you’re looking to optimize an existing shipping plan or anticipate what shipping needs you may need in the future—as well as how to adequately prepare for them.
Access to Top of the Line Tools and Resources
A dedicated fleet service provider will often have the most up-to-date shipping tools and resources to further streamline your operations. These resources may include:
- Tracking features to help you monitor shipments and update recipients of their shipment status
- Dashboards that let you review or adjust shipping needs and schedules
More Time for Your Own Business
When you arrange services with a dedicated fleet provider, there’s no need for you to worry about tasks like:
- Hiring, training, managing, and compensating qualified and dedicated truck drivers
- Brushing up on federal and state compliance requirements
- Updating vehicle registrations and insurance needs
- Ensuring vehicles are well-maintained and up-to-code (learn more about the importance of fleet maintenance)
Without all these other tasks on your plate, you’re given ample time to focus on managing and streamlining the other aspects of your business. With this additional time, you may find that you’re able to improve your operations and scale your business even faster than anticipated.
When to Choose a Dedicated Fleet
Despite the many benefits, not all shippers may require a dedicated fleet. However, the higher the stakes of your deliveries, the more ideal having a dedicated carrier becomes.
The following factors, in particular, can make it especially worthwhile to arrange a contract with a dedicated fleet:
- You often need to arrange shipments that contain particularly sensitive or valuable items
- You often need access to specialized equipment to handle large or oversized shipments
- You often have shipments that are temperature-sensitive
- You often need to arrange urgent shipments
- You want to supplement existing private fleet vehicles during high-demand periods
- You expect to need help with high-volume shipments on a recurring basis
- You have a sufficient private fleet, but one or more vehicles in the repair shop have left you with temporarily limited resources
Tips for Dedicated Fleet Management
Are you a fleet owner looking to operate your own dedicated fleet? If so, take a look below at some tips that will help ensure your fleet management runs smoothly and efficiently.
Hire a Dedicated Fleet Manager
Having a dedicated fleet manager on your team is crucial for keeping your business operating smoothly. Fleet managers are typically responsible for handling a number of important tasks, including fleet tracking, ensuring driver safety, and finding opportunities for reducing operational costs.
Prioritize Driver Retention
No drivers mean no shipments. Amid ongoing driver shortages, maintaining a fully-staffed fleet means setting up an operation around driver retention that offers your drivers incentives rewarding them for sticking around.
Maintaining a positive work environment, prioritizing employee relationships, and providing competitive pay and benefits are all actions that can strengthen driver retention.
Getting paid on time is a big plus for drivers, too. Fortunately, the AtoB payroll management system can help you roll out payments within minutes as opposed to days.
Apply For and Use a Fuel Card
Choosing to use a fuel card can help you reduce fleet expenses and streamline your fleet operations while also ensuring your finances remain secure. With an AtoB fuel card, in particular, you can take advantage of fuel discount programs and save on a number of vehicle-related expenses, including fuel, vehicle repairs, and more.
What’s more, because AtoB cards can be used wherever Visa is accepted, your drivers won’t have to waste time and miles off-route just to refuel at an “in-network” station. This makes it easier to ensure deliveries are made on time, which can, in turn, free up resources so that your fleet can complete more trips.
Take Advantage of Tech to Optimize Operations
Having the right technological tools at your disposal can help make your dedicated fleet operation scalable at a faster pace. For instance, GPS tracking for fleets can help you check whether shipments are delayed or on time, and they can also be useful in ensuring driver safety. The same is true for dash cams.
Furthermore, dynamic route optimization tools can help drivers readjust routes in real time when unexpected accidents or road construction hold up traffic and risk causing delays.
With AtoB, there’s also the option to pair your AtoB fuel card with AtoB’s 1099 payroll management system. It’s quicker and more cost-effective than traditional payroll systems and allows you to easily generate reports, prepare taxes, and ensure timely payment for drivers.
Choose AtoB Fuel Cards for Your Dedicated Fleet
For those managing dedicated fleets themselves, there are plenty of options for fuel cards out there, but some are more appealing than others. If you want a fuel card that offers convenience, savings, and security, consider AtoB’s fuel card.
On top of savings at the pump, AtoB fuel cards boast transparent pricing to help drive savings for your business, and as we’ve already mentioned, they can be used nationwide wherever Visa cards are accepted. This means AtoB cardholders get to enjoy one of the largest networks to refuel with, even in remote areas. And when your drivers don’t have to drive off-route to find an in-network gas station, deliveries can remain on schedule—which keeps you, your client, and your client’s customers happy.
Our fuel cards also make dedicated fleet management even easier. With AtoB’s user-friendly dashboard, you can track expenses at the vendor, driver, and location level to ensure you stay within your budget and credit utilization limit. Not to mention, you can set spending limits, establish a vendor whitelist, and determine operational hours for card use to avoid improper usage and overspending.
Care to learn more? Contact us today to find out how AtoB’s fuel card solutions can help you optimize your dedicated fleet and achieve your business goals.
1 National Private Truck Council. NPTC’s Definition of Private Fleets. https://www.nptc.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/NPTC_Definition_of_Private_Fleets_5.pdf
Veltri. Private Fleet Versus Dedicated Fleet: What You Need to Know. https://veltriinc.com/blog/private-fleet-versus-dedicated-fleet-what-you-need-to-know/
Coyote Logistics. What Is Private Fleet Trucking? How Shippers Use Private & Dedicated Fleets.
SupplyChain247. Five Keys to Overcoming the Barriers that Limit Dedicated Fleet Productivity.
Transport Topics. Opinion: How to Improve Dedicated Fleet Management.
FW Logistics. Reasons to Choose Dedicated Fleet Services for Your Business.
U.S. Xpress. 7 Reasons to Choose a Dedicated Fleet.
D.M. Bowman Inc. What Are the Benefits of a Dedicated Fleet Solution to Your Businesses? https://dmbowman.com/what-are-the-benefits-of-a-dedicated-fleet-solution-to-your-businesses/