Fuelling savings - ways to reduce fuel use in your business

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23/03/2017 12:59 pm

Saving on fuel costs is not as simple as discounts or shop-a-dockets for most businesses. Like most areas, reducing usage comes down to some simple strategies that are either not utilised or totally forgotten. Here are a few to think about.

Fuel prices are hard to predict and even harder to understand for the average person. Quick to rise and slow to fall, understanding fuel price changes can be complex and frustrating. Managing fuel as an expense line can be even more so. This is especially true for businesses where fuel can be a significant cost every month.

There is no cut and dried method that works for every organisation. However, here are a few basic things to think about when deciding how to manage this cost in your business. The benefits will be not only to your bottom line but also to your corporate responsibility through a reduction in the environmental impact.

Some simple ways to reduce fuel use

Use less

  1. Plan trips smarter
    Avoiding peak hour and visiting customers in areas on set days avoid a lot of unnecessary trips. While there will be exceptions, better planning can deliver reduced fuel use.
  2. Consider flexible working hour windows
    A flexible window enables your team to attend the workplace in hours that avoid or limit the impact of the peak hour. A more lateral approach which we take advantage of at Supply Clusters is to make use of cloud-based IT platforms so that staff can work remotely thus avoiding the need for travel altogether.
  3. Choose who gets to claim fuel costs and how frequently
    Removing eligibility for fuel use could lead to some tough conversations which may be overdue. Alternatively, consider limiting the number of trips that may be claimed. This will cause staff to consider more closely which trips they will take and contact the remainder by online meeting tools (refer below)
  4. Choose fuel efficient cars
    Let’s face it, a larger car is often more comfortable but they are not as fuel efficient as smaller or more modern cars. Regularly updating fleets or ensuring staff have up to date vehicles will improve the bottom line.
  5. Use online meeting tools
    At Supply Clusters we use online meeting tools including video, voice and screen-sharing everyday with customers, staff and suppliers. This reduces our need to drive to meetings which means less fuel cost and more time saved. You can read more about this here.
  6. Limit personal use
    Another strategy to reduce the cost to your business is to limit personal use of work vehicles. The personal benefit of fuel paid by the business may become an entitlement to employees over time. However, this can be open to abuse. Consider setting limits on outside of work use or consider removing the privilege entirely.

Drive more efficiently

  1. Smooth and steady rather than racing off at the lights
    Heavy acceleration increases fuel consumption in any type of vehicle. It is also unnecessary especially in heavy traffic. Consider driver training or coaching staff to drive sensibly. It not only uses less fuel but also reduces other wear and tear on vehicles and reduces the risk to drivers on the road.
  2. Reduce the use of air conditioning
    Use the air conditioner only when needed. It can be a drain on engine power and also fuel economy. The impact on fuel consumption is between 5 and 20%. This also depends on the type of vehicle and the way it is driven. While you do not want your staff to swelter on a hot day it isn’t necessary to use it as a fan to simply circulate air. Consider also the temperature that is set in the car the same way you do in the office. The cooler you set the temperature, the more the air conditioning unit needs to work. Also, be aware that winding down the windows also has an impact on aerodynamics during highway driving and can impact fuel use.

Maintain vehicles

  1. Tyre pressure
    When a tyre is 4 to 5 psi below the recommended pressure, fuel use increases by 10%. It is that simple. Check the vehicle’s sticker for minimum tire inflation pressures. This can also can lead to a 15% reduction in tyre life over time so you can save there too.
  2. Regular servicing
    Regular maintenance improves the performance of any vehicle. It provides a platform for ensuring that vehicles are running optimally. While most manufacturers suggest a 12 month service, it is advisable to get a checkup every 6 months or more frequently depending on the kilometres driven. This process can also identify problems with can lead to heavier fuel usage such as tyre wear, wheel alignment and clogged filters.

Pay less for what you use

  1. Buying cycle
    The price of fuel moves up and down regularly. Buying at the right time of the cycle can save 15-20 cents a litre which can equate to $10 or more per full tank. While this is not always easy to achieve (if you need to fill up, you need to fill up) monitoring the right time to fill up can save significant amounts of money if you have a lot of cars on the road. If you want to make this easy, there are a number of apps and websites that provide information on where the best fuel prices are such as Motor Mouth,Gas Buddy and NRMA .
  2. Choosing the right type of fuel
    Using a more premium fuel type in a car that does not require it, costs more and rarely delivers the cost benefit in city driving. For those who spend most of their time in traffic, the incremental benefits in performance and economy do not match up to the increased cost.
  3. Fuel Cards
    Fuel cards with discounts attached offer a convenient way to save some money on fuel. Cards also provide detailed reporting by driver or vehicle on the fuel purchased. This data can be essential to monitor and improve on fuel cost use over time. Data is accessible and easy to obtain from the fuel card providers and reduces the administrative time of processing invoices, receipts or costs. We highly recommend the implementation of a fuel card rather than using a company credit card. Fuel cards can be restricted to specific vehicles, reducing the likelihood of staff topping up their partner’s or kids’ cars (yes we see this all the time). We partner with Caltex and the Star Card program to offer reduced card fees and discounts off the price of fuel. You can find more details here.

It is different for every business

Reducing fuel costs to your business is a combination of managing what fuel is bought but more importantly ensuring vehicles are maintained and driver behaviour is managed. You need to consider the right measures for your business and staff so that fuel costs are managed effectively without causing any undue angst. If you want to talk to an expert or would like any further information, contact us today via the form below.


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