Pump up the volume
Recent years have seen the price of petrol and diesel rocket and although short-term price wars bring some temporary relief, the price is set to stay high.
Indeed events over the last month have reinforced how volatile fuel prices are as continued political instability with both Russia and Iran causes experts to predict knock-on effects.
Meanwhile as the cost of fuel soars, so does the temptation for drivers to take advantage of employer fuel policies through fraudulent practices.
For fleets, keeping these spiralling costs under control can be a real headache. But whilst fleets can’t control the fuel prices themselves, they can help minimise the impact of fuel price increases through a comprehensive fuel management programme.
This includes key actions such as implementing greener cars as well as instructing drivers on using the cheapest local forecourts and steering clear of high-cost motorway fuel stations.
However, one of the most effective solutions for managing both fuel costs and driver fuel fraud is the implementation of a fuel card scheme, which can not only help assess how vehicles are driven but also brings benefits including increased security and reduced administration.
Why use fuel cards?
FleetCor, which says it’s the UK’s leading fuel card company, explains the benefits of a fuel card programme.
The fuel cards it offers are Allstar, the UK’s most popular and widely accepted fuel card, and Keyfuels which offers discounted diesel.
FleetCor also owns The Fuelcard Company, the major card reseller offering a wide range of cost saving fuel cards for fleets of all sizes.
As the UK’s largest provider, FleetCor is helping thousands of customers in business and public sector organisations to cut their fuel costs and improve efficiency. By applying the following advice, companies can use less fuel, reduce misuse, save money and be more efficient:
Saving money by reducing administration costs
Administration is cut dramatically by using fuel cards. For example, without fuel cards – with pay and reclaim – there is the cost of administration time to process each claim, repay the employee, get senior management sign-off and file the records for tax purposes.
A fuel card does away with all this and means a single data report and one invoice for all drivers and their journeys – all prepared to be HMRC-compliant for easy VAT reclaim.
For many of Allstar’s customers, saving costly administration time is just as important as low-cost fuel. Kavi Shergill, who runs Shergill Couriers Ltd in Wolverhampton, has seen an administration transformation through moving to a single-card solution: ‘In the past, we spent a lot of time following up drivers’ paperwork and chasing receipts. Once we switched to one card, Allstar, we quickly realised it would increase efficiency, saving time and money for both drivers and employees in the back office.’
At Allied Pharmacies, which has 45 pharmacies across England and Wales, Ammar Nazir shared a similar experience: ‘Previously we had three or four fuel cards with countless individual receipts to process. Allstar provides one weekly invoice for multiple card users and consolidated reports and this has made our company more efficient. For us this is crucial as we prefer to concentrate on running our core business, managing our fleet using as little time as possible.’
Play your cards right to pay less for fuel
Using the right fuel card can help fleet managers pay less for fuel at the pump per litre. For example, Allstar offers a programme called Allstar Premier Programme (APP) which provides drivers with two cards, one for the regular Allstar network and one which they can use in 1,700 network outlets across the country that offer lower-cost diesel.
This scheme realises significant cost savings – up to four pence per litre. For an average fleet of 100 vehicles this can mean savings of up to £6,000 per year. It also has the advantage that although drivers have two cards, fleet managers receive just one invoice and one report, giving a consolidated view of that driver’s fuel spend.
Allstar also offers its Supermarket Card, which can be used at all the UK’s four major supermarket chains – but not at other fuel outlets. Allstar’s Supermarket Card is accepted at a combined network of over 1,000 sites nationwide including Morrison’s, Sainsbury’s, ASDA and Tesco. The card ensures that drivers only fill up at low-cost supermarket sites where prices can be between 10 and 15p per litre lower than motorway and oil-branded forecourts.
Using fuel cards to reduce the risk of fraud, influence driver behaviour and cut waste
Fuel cards make it easier to reduce fraud and employee misuse. For example, one notoriously difficult area to control is the split between business and personal mileage claims. The Allstar card comes with Business Mileage Monitoring (BMM) software that automatically calculates personal and business mileage to provide HMRC-compliant data for precise reimbursement, reporting and payment of taxes to HMRC.
Then there is the cost of wasted fuel caused by people driving overly long distances to fill up. Evidence from many parts of the fleet business shows that fleet managers and drivers routinely underestimate the cost of drivers travelling even short distances out of their way to refuel at specified outlets. Allstar card users have an app showing the nearest, cheapest locations to refuel, which enables them to be efficient about detours for filling up.
Also, there is the cost of allowing drivers to select which fuel stations to use. For example, a driver using high-cost service station outlets could be spending far more per transaction than they would using a fuel card such as Allstar’s Supermarket Card that limits where spending could take place.
Single reporting of all fuel purchases allocated to specific vehicle registration plates also makes it easier to spot fraudulent spending patterns and behaviour. These are examples of how fuel cards and the data they provide equip fleet managers with valuable insights. Using this information allows managers to direct driver behaviour in ways that save fuel costs without sacrificing convenience for employees on the road.
What to look for when choosing a fuel card…
The FuelCard People debunks the common myths about fuel cards and reviews what fleets should look for in a provider.
Fleet management means financial challenges, with unavoidable costs and few options for savings. Fuel, a frequent purchase and a major expenditure item, is an area where tight cost control is essential. Some fleet managers might question how fuel cost control is possible. In believing that paying forecourt prices is inevitable, they could hardly be more wrong.
The only bigger mistake than refuelling at forecourt prices is to pay pump price, plus a refuelling fee. This is why fuel cards were invented, which every fleet should use as a matter of routine. The convenience of paperless, administration-free refuelling across nationwide networks is well understood. Where some fleet managers go wrong is in assuming that fuel cards are all the same. There are real differences between them and every brand of fuel card offers its own particular benefits.
The key thing to remember is that the whole point is to save money. You should never use a fuel card that does not offer discounts, for reasons that should be obvious. Consider any major brand and ask yourself how rare its filling stations are. Seriously, are Shell forecourts, or Esso or any other brand, a rarity? This red herring, peddled by non-discount fuel card suppliers, can be dismissed as nonsense.
With the right fuel card, expect typical savings of up to 4p per litre on average pump prices, wherever the refuelling takes place. With such savings available, just paying pump prices would be ridiculous. Even worse, some suppliers then add transaction charges. If a supplier does not offer significant per-litre discounting, or expects you to pay £2 extra per transaction regardless of the quantity pumped, move on. They will not save you money.
To find the right fuel card, simply talk to a supplier that covers every major fuel brand, with coverage of independents, motorway services and even supermarkets. They should be offering discounts as routine, with a guarantee of no additional transaction charges.
In an ideal world, your supplier should also offer emissions monitoring, mileage recording and automated fleet management services. Having reduced the cost per litre to a minimum, your next aim is to reduce the quantity of fuel needed. With services to aid management of driver behaviour, reduce journey lengths and optimise vehicle fuel efficiency, there is no reason to accept your current consumption as inevitable.
Controlling your fuel costs can be simple. You just need to talk to the right people.