Recent global events have sent fuel prices skyrocketing to upwards of $5 a gallon. This is a financial burden for commuting individuals, but this massive rise in prices could be devastating to the fuel budget of a commercial fleet.
Just keeping your fleet fueled up can cut into your reserves, and no fleet manager wants to sacrifice next year's growth to stay on the road.
While you can't just reach out and lower the gas prices, you can take steps to minimize both the consumption and cost of fuel for your fleet. Take a look at these eight practical approaches to keep your fleet fuel costs under control when gas prices rise.
Know Your Town's Lowest-Priced Stations
Every town has a network of gas stations spread from the outskirt truck stops to the downtown stations. Gas stations have a small amount of leeway in how much they charge, which means some stations (more likely downtown) will charge a little more while strategic stations charge a little less.
Know those lowest-priced gas stations in your town and let your fleet drivers know that these are your priority fuel stops to keep prices as low as possible.
Track Daily Gas Prices at Local Stations
With the market changing rapidly, gas prices rise and fall. Use an online tool to keep track of both the overall gas price in your region - and how prices are fluctuating at each station inside your route and service area. The lowest-cost places to get gas in each sector of your service area may change from day to day.
Staying aware will ensure you and your drivers are ready to catch those lower gas prices whenever they are available - and to prioritize fueling up on days the gas price dips
Continually Audit Fuel Card Use
Fuel card precision is more important than ever with fuel prices on the rise. Let your drivers know that the usual margin for error is just not available right now. Higher-priced gas stations and extra snacks may blow your fuel budget out of the water because these prices have tightened any wiggle room you may have worked with previously.
Keep an eye on every transaction on your fuel cards and address discrepancies immediately to avoid any leaks in your fuel budget.
Plan Tight, Fuel-Efficient Routes
Usually, we recommend that fleets find the smoothest, fastest route to clients. This is still a good idea, but with fuel prices reaching devastating heights, you should also prioritize the tightest, most fuel-efficient routes possible.
This may mean selecting or avoiding the freeway, choosing a rougher but shorter road, and seeking routes with fewer gas-consuming stoplights.
Plan Routes That Include Low-Cost Fuel Stops
Another way to strategize low-cost routes is to make sure your teams swing by the lower-cost fuel stops as part of pre-planned routes. This reduces the chances of high-priced stations being used and can help eliminate any loss of gas taking a detour to the low-priced stations.
Swing Wide for Low-Traffic Gas Stops
That said, with prices so high, taking five minutes to hit a lower-priced station may save you much more in fuel bought than it costs in fuel burned. Loop your routes out to the lower traffic gas stops outside of downtown and popular suburban areas. You will typically find lower prices and less wait time to snag a pump during commuter hours.
Use Telematic Feedback to Reduce Driver Fuel Consumption
You can help your drivers burn less gas when they drive as well using telematic feedback. Telematics track the speed, velocity, and stop time of vehicles among other things which can also help your drivers see how much gas they are burning on acceleration (and stop-start traffic) by how they use the gas pedal.
Just providing direct feedback can help your drivers teach themselves how to soft-foot and improve their gas efficiency when driving fleet vehicles.
Reward Drivers for Low-Fuel Driving and Low-Price Spotting
Finally don't forget to reward your drivers for helping save money for the fuel budget this high-priced season. Drivers who improve their technique to burn less gas should be recognized and rewarded. Your drivers can also help you by spotting and selecting low-priced gas stations - especially those country stores that don't update their prices daily on the available online platforms.
Fuel prices may be going up, but fleets have more than a few options to help keep that fuel budget under control. For more fleet management insights, fuel card programs, or professional fleet services, contact us today.