If you are a car owner or manage vehicles as part of your business, you will have noticed that you’re paying a lot more to fill up a tank recently. With record breaking highs in fuel prices, recent world events have meant that we’re forced to spend more to travel the same distances.
Tom Cosway, Head of Commercial Business at Fuel Card Services says “Rising fuel prices are forcing UK businesses to find solutions that reduce their operating costs. Doing so could be crucial to remaining competitive in the coming months.”
Over the past year, the cost of crude oil has increased globally resulting in us paying more at the pump for petrol and diesel. However, in more recent weeks the price of fuel has risen significantly following the ongoing conflict in Ukraine.
Russia exports 11% of the global total of oil and is the third largest oil exporter in the world according to Sky News. Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, countries such as Canada and the US have responded by ceasing imports from the country. Not only due to moral reasons, but also because of concerns that oil may not be delivered or transactions may not go through due to disruptions to banking.
As a result of countries no longer relying on Russia for their oil, there is a strain on resources for other oil producers who are now in higher demand. Consequently, prices of crude oil have increased globally due to this increased demand.
How does Russia impact the UK’s fuel prices?
Although the UK is not reliant on oil from Russia, and only imports around 5% of its oil from the country, global shifts in price have an impact on what we pay as customers. The price for one barrel of Brent crude oil increased to $139 on 7th March – the highest it has been in 14 years.
Government data shows that fuel prices are still increasing week on week, going from 152.95p per litre for petrol on 7th March to 159.96p on 14th March 2022. The same can be said for diesel, increasing from 158.56p to 169.48p. With such high prices for diesel, if you are buying more cars for a fleet soon, it may be a good time to think about the pros and cons of buying a petrol vs diesel car.
What causes changes in the cost of fuel?
The price you pay for petrol and diesel is impacted by the following factors:
Supply and demand for oil.
The price of crude oil globally.
Combined wholesale cost, distribution cost and retail margin
Fuel duty owed to the government
Exchange rates from dollar to pounds
What can your business do to reduce fuel costs?
For businesses in the UK managing multiple vehicles, it’s now more important than ever to do what you can to save money on the cost of fuel. There are different options that can be taken for managing your fleet effectively to reduce outgoings on fuel.
1. Save money with a fuel card
A great method of saving money on fuel for business vehicles is using a fuel card, as you can achieve discounts on every mile. Working with all major fuel brands, Fuel Card Services can offer savings of up to 10p per litre when you use a fuel card.
Using fleet management software solutions can allow businesses to take control of their fleet from all over the UK and make efficiencies to reduce costs.
By implementing an effective telematics system, vehicles can be tracked, and routes can be planned to ensure the most fuel-efficient route is taken. Telematics can also save you money by directing drivers to the cheapest and most practical petrol stations. You can read more about the many benefits of using Tele-Gence Telematics and how this could be a useful solution to reduce costs for your business.
Not only this, Fuel Card Services offers fleet management options that help to get vehicles fixed or serviced at pre-negotiated rates. So, for fleet operators, vehicle maintenance could be an interesting area in which you could look to make cost-savings.
Cut costs on your business’ fuel today
Operational costs have always been a key expenditure that small to medium-sized businesses have had to contend with. In 2022, this is certainly the case, and the rising cost of fuel is causing cash flow challenges for businesses across the globe.
Consequently, it’s now more important than ever that businesses look to make efficiencies in small ways to remain competitive. Whether that involves investing in a fuel card to save money on business mileage, or introducing new technology to improve fleet efficiency, Fuel Card Services has a solution that could help.
You can get a free quote online or apply now for fuel cards and fleet management services from Fuel Card Services. If you would like assistance in choosing the right fuel card or fleet management solution, you can contact us today to speak to one of our experts.
For operators of commercial fleets, going about managing those fleets in the right way is absolutely crucial. That’s because fleet management impacts a business’ profitability, staff, and customer base.
In this guide, we’ll cover off the key aspects of fleet management to help operators stay on top of the best practices used in industry. We’ll specifically touch on subjects including:
Fleet management involves the coordination and organisation of a business’ vehicle portfolio and drivers. This includes not only company-owned cars or vans, but also grey fleet vehicles which are owned by employees but used for work purposes.
Exactly what a fleet management model should look like differs from company to company, and can depend on the number of vehicles managed and the infrastructure and systems in place. However, there are some universal truths to effective fleet management that apply to all businesses at any given stage during their lifecycle.
Some of these key components include:
Monitoring operational cost.
Ensuring vehicle safety and compliance.
Vehicle maintenance and repair.
Employee management and training.
Managing operational efficiency and optimisation.
A good fleet manager should be able to keep a legal and safe operation running, engage and motivate workforce, and do so while making cost savings wherever possible.
The role of the fleet manager
The job of the fleet manager is to oversee both the wider strategic movements and the day-to-day operations of a business’ cars, vans, or trucks. Fleet managers have a wide range of responsibilities and so need to be versatile in their skillsets and able to dabble in everything from accountancy to strong communications and the ability to multitask.
Some of the key responsibilities of a fleet manager role include:
Ensuring operating costs are kept as low as possible is a primary task of the fleet manager. This can include getting a good deal on initial purchases or rentals, as well as keeping ongoing costs down, which could be achieved through improving fuel efficiency or managing the use of services like fuel cards.
Overseeing vehicle maintenance
Keeping your fleet on the road is vital to the success of any business. This means ensuring cars and vans are regularly serviced and checked for any faults. The latest smart technology can alert you to any potential issues before they become a problem, allowing you to plan your schedule and reduce the risk of a breakdown.
Ensuring driver safety
As well as ensuring your fleet is mechanically sound, a good fleet manager should also be keeping an eye on driver behaviour. Tools like telematics systems can keep a full log of their actions, and show you if they were speeding, for instance – or if any harsh inputs have been made on the steering or brakes. This information can enable you step in with training or advice where necessary.
It’s essential that you know where your vehicles are at all times. GPS tracking tools give you a complete picture of your current situation and let you make changes. For instance, it can show you if drivers are taking inefficient routes between jobs and therefore help better plan your operations. What’s more, it can quickly alert you to any unauthorised vehicle use or track down a stolen car.
It’s also up to the fleet management team to ensure their vehicles are road legal and that drivers are meeting their requirements. However, this doesn’t just include keeping MOTs and insurance valid. You should also be tracking any mileage claims for expenses and tax purposes and ensuring drivers aren’t breaching working time rules. This also covers ensuring your drivers are fully licensed for the vehicles they operate. And you’re keeping a record of any issues such as penalty points.
How to improve your fleet management
The most efficient and profitable fleets are likely to be those with the best managers at the helm who can provide structure and processes that are easy to follow, while also ensuring communication with drivers is clear.
Our tips on the key areas in which most fleets could look to upgrade include:
1. Accessing real-time information
The first thing any fleet manager needs in order to work effectively is full visibility of their cars, vans, and drivers. This means having access to real-time data that can show them, at a glance, the location of each vehicle and employee, their current status, and whether they are experiencing any issues.
The most effective way of achieving this is by implementing an effective telematics system. This system connects to a vehicle’s computer and uses a range of sensors to feed data back to a central computer detailing everything a vehicle’s location and speed to driver inputs. Real-time data is also a pre-requisite to many of the solutions we’re about to cover, so if you don’t have it, you could be working with one hand tied behind your back.
2. Implementing GPS tracking
A key part of any real-time information solution will be instant details of your fleet’s locations via GPS. This can be vital if you need to dispatch an employee to a certain destination, as you can see at a glance who is available and best-positioned to respond.
However, it can also be used to help record mileage and hours spent on the road, divert drivers away from areas of congestion and even provide customers with real-time updates on when they can expect your employees to arrive.
3. Improving route planning
GPS tools can also be used in combination with other tech solutions to improve your firms’ route planning. This isn’t just about finding the shortest way from A to B. It should also take into account factors such as expected fuel consumption along the route and the distance to the cheapest filling stations.
For example, if a vehicle is spending a lot of time stuck in traffic with the engine idling, this results in greater fuel consumption and higher costs. With good route planning tools, this can be avoided.
4. Monitoring driver behaviour
Being able to keep an eye on how your employees are driving is also essential. First and foremost, this improves safety. If fleet telematics data shows frequent speeding, or sensors detect harsh control inputs, you can step in to address this. You can even generate league tables that show your best and worst-performing drivers, highlighting who you need to speak to most urgently.
This can also help reduce fuel consumption. By monitoring inputs such as acceleration and braking, you can educate employees to drive more smoothly as well as safely. Indeed, almost half of businesses (49 per cent) using telematics have seen a reduction in speeding incidences and fines, while 55 per cent experienced a drop in fuel usage.
5. Reducing your fuel costs
While better route planning and driver monitoring can help improve your fuel consumption, you should also make sure you’re not paying over the odds at the pump. To do this, it pays to have a suitable fuel card for your usage.
There are a wide range of products to choose from, so it’s important to get this right. It may be the case that the cheapest option isn’t very convenient for your firm. You also need to consider whether you’d benefit from cards with wider motorway networks, for example, and which brands have locations nearest your most common routes.
6. Predictively scheduling maintenance
Breakdowns can be a major headache for fleet managers. Beyond the direct costs associated with fixing vehicle problems, having vehicles off the road unexpectedly also hurts the firm’s productivity. You can avoid this by using the data taken from telematics systems to predictively schedule maintenance. These tools can highlight potential issues and allow you to step in before they turn into serious problems.
7. Automating your expenses
Admin work is often among the most time-consuming parts of a fleet manager’s job. Working out details such as mileage claims, expenses, fuel MPG and other details are essential but tedious activities. But with the right fleet management systems, this doesn’t have to be the case.
Being able to calculate these figures automatically, based on data recorded by the telematics system, doesn’t just free up your time. It also ensures the data is accurate and can highlight any unusual events – such as vehicles doing significantly more miles than expected – for investigation.
8. Setting up security alerts
Spotting and cracking down on unauthorised vehicle usage is also essential. For example, you can set up alerts that let you know if a vehicle is being used outside normal office hours. You can also establish geofencing to warn you if a car from your portfolio travels beyond a certain area.
This isn’t only useful for identifying any employees using company assets for personal use, but it can also help you quickly track down any stolen vehicles – using GPS tracking to guide police precisely.
9. Tackling fuel fraud
Another major concern for many fleet managers is the risk of fuel fraud, such as employees filling personal vehicles using a company fuel card or making claims for miles they haven’t done. Telematics can help spot issues with expenses, while a good fuel card can also help by ensuring vehicle locations match fuel card usage, for example.
10. Managing your vehicle inventory
A good fleet management system can also help keep track of your vehicle inventory. This allows you to better plan ahead for replacements, get alerts when services or MOTs are due, and prepare your finances.
You can also see at a glance details such as the types of fuel used, which will be important to know when selecting a fuel card, and can factor into future buying decisions. For instance, if the majority of your fleet is petrol-powered, you may want to consider phasing out any remaining diesels to simplify your operations.
11. Procuring the right fleet vehicles
It’s crucial that your vehicle portfolio is properly equipped to meet the needs of your business, and there are a lot of considerations you could make around whether to bring new vehicles on board, or upgrade existing cars and vans. A good starting point is to analyse the fuel they’re currently using, and gain visibility over all car running costs.
From there, you can factor in market movements such as the growth of electric vehicles when making judgements on how to go about upgrading your fleet over the coming months and years.
Fleet management software solutions
Many of the efficiencies fleet operators can look to make stem from using the latest and greatest technology in market to automate, track and calculate ways to improve performance.
To recap some of the key pieces of commercial fleet technology we’ve mentioned in this article, the essential software includes:
A thorough telematics system, such as our Tele-Gence service – which can help businesses take control of vehicle management.
Software to help drivers with their daily operations. For example, our My Drivers Club app can help drivers find their nearest fuel pumps with ease.
Having a good technology stack behind a fleet operation can also prove an attractive prospect for new drivers and partners, who may be accustomed to enjoying these benefits when offered by rival businesses.
Why is fleet management important?
In this article, we have covered what fleet management is, an overview of the fleet manager role, and helpful software solutions, but what is likely to be the impact of upgrading your fleet management processes today?
Some real-world benefits you could see within your fleet include:
Improved employee productivity.
A reduction in fuel costs – which could have a significant impact on your bottom line.
Saving time by controlling your fleet online and eliminating administrative tasks.
Reduced mileage claims.
Automated reporting dashboards.
Improved driver safety and security.
If you want to know more about how Fuel Card Services could help you and your business, you can get in contact with our fleet management experts today.
Fuel plays a major role in the UK economy. It’s a core component of the transport sector, which saw 176 billion tonne-kilometres of domestic freight transported in 2020. A whopping 77% of that freight was moved by road, and is the product of operations conducted by businesses of all shapes and sizes – from large multinational corporations to SMEs that are just starting out on their journeys with commercial freight.
All of these freight businesses, and even transport businesses such as taxi ranks, share at least one trait in common, which is a dependency on fuel. Consequently, it’s important to understand:
What fuel is.
What type of fuel your business should be investing in.
How you can save money on fuel costs.
What infrastructure is needed to source fuel consistently.
That’s what we’ll cover in this guide, as we dive into all things fuel related.
What is fuel?
Firstly, then, what do we mean by ‘fuel?’ Well, fuel is quite simply a material burned by a vehicle engine for power. Better quality, cleaner fuels may enable cars to run a little more efficiently, travelling that bit further than cheaper fuel counterparts, but these typically come with a higher price tag attached.
So, navigating the fuel landscape and determining which types of fuel to purchase could have a massive impact upon your business’ bottom line. For example, would it be smarter to invest in diesel-powered company cars than petrol alternatives? Or is electric the way forward?
To help make a decision, let’s break down the different types of fuel.
Types of fuel
The main types of fuel utilised by UK fleets are:
Unleaded petrol is the most common type of fuel you’ll find powering vehicles in the UK, and in the wider western hemisphere. It’s most commonly available in three main variants:
Unleaded petrol – the standard petroleum variant available at virtually all petrol stations.
Super unleaded petrol – a higher octane version of petrol that’s typically slightly more expensive but equally more efficient.
Liquified petroleum gas (LPG) – made from propane and butane, LPG is available at the majority of petrol stations in the UK. It’s more environmentally friendly, quieter, and cheaper than petrol, and despite being slightly less fuel efficient per gallon, it could yield substantial cost savings. However, a converter is needed for regular cars to be able to run on LPG.
Modern petrol variants are a drastic improvement upon the older lead-based petrol that was a staple of fuel stations, and they present a range of options for powering company cars and fleet vehicles.
Also worth mentioning is diesel, which is widely known as being more fuel efficient than petrol. That’s because diesel is comprised of more long-chain hydrocarbons than petrol, meaning it’s packed with energy – which works at around 15% more energy per litre.
Fuel economy is crucial to the success of commercial fleets, and so diesel could be considered an attractive option for vehicles transporting freight at high speeds over long distances – especially due to the extra torque drivers can feel from a diesel engine.
That said, there have been concerns shared around the potential dangers that diesel fumes could pose to drivers, which some suppliers have disputed, but either way it’s worth looking into diesel as an efficient, if a little expensive, fuel source for commercial vehicles.
However, there’s a new type of fuel that’s sweeping the UK market. That’s electric power – which can be generated either via public charging stations, or standalone charging points that are installed either at fleet depos or even residential houses.
There are some obvious and attractive benefits to electrifying a commercial fleet, including:
That electricity is the cheapest type of fuel you can find in the market. The government’s advisory fuel rates suggest that electricity costs around five pence per mile, compared to upward of twelve pence for petrol and diesel engines (which varies based on engine size and the likes).
Sustainability – electricity can be generated via renewable sources, and is consequently less damaging for the environment than mining and burning petroleum. As an SME in the UK, you may also do well to consider how fuel legislation could penalise the use of non-renewable fuel sources moving forward, and forecast as to how this may impact your fleet’s bottom line before making a decision around which fuel to use.
Which type of fuel should I use for UK company cars and fleets?
So, which fuel type should you choose for your commercial fleet?
It’s a difficult question to answer, however there are a few key elements to this formula that apply to the vast majority of fleets. You could proceed by:
Identifying the fuel demands of your fleet. This is made easier by planning your routes in advance and creating accurate forecasts around how much fuel you’ll need during the upcoming months.
Factoring in your current fleet capacity. If you’re using a fleet that comprises solely diesel HGVs at present, then you have to conduct a cost-benefit analysis when considering a move over to electric or petrol equivalents. There’s the up-front cost of new vehicles to consider, as well as ongoing costs – and your ability to reliably source fuel from petrol stations based on your planned routes.
Calculating the cost of fuel for your fleet. Comparing all the options available to you based on your routes, mapping out petrol station availability, and choosing a fuel card that specifically benefits your fleet by giving drivers access to cheaper fuel prices.
There could be cost-saving advantages for fleets that are willing to electrify and embrace sustainability with a positive and open mindset. This is partly due to the government grants and subsidiaries available for SMEs that invest in low-emission plug-in vehicles, and partly due to the operational advantages of building an electric infrastructure gradually – which enables companies to start taking orders as soon as EVs are purchased.
For example, it’s worth considering the time required to install EV charging points. With this technology already proving fairly affordable for fleets, it may be wise for SMEs to set up charging stations within depos in the near future. This may mean that any EVs purchased later down the line, when the tech becomes cheaper and more available, can be utilised quickly – while avoiding premiums for charging point installation that may come about as competitors rush to electrify.
Additionally, showcasing your business’ openness to and use of electric power could help you build strong relationships and with customers and suppliers who share those same sustainable brand principles – or unlock new partnership opportunities.
How can Fuel Card Services help?
At Fuel Card Services, we specialise in helping businesses save money on their fuel costs. We do this in a number of ways, from offering a range of branded fuel cards that can make a real impact to your bottom line for every mile driven by your team, to offering an advance suite of fleet services that are designed to help your vehicles and operations run more efficiently.
For example, our MileageCount software and advanced telematics service can be used to properly track your driver’s routes, and plan routes efficiently – which is a prerequisite to calculating the fuel demands of your fleet. Additionally, our fuel cards can get you access to virtually any type of unleaded or diesel fuel at almost any pump across the UK – all you need to do is identify the right fuel card for you – which our experts can support with.
If you think your fleet could benefit from our cards and services, get in touch today and see how we could help you.
When it comes to filling out expense reports and claiming back mileage, this is not ideal. Admin time could be doubled with all these extra reports to fill out.
It gets even more complicated when you factor in the different charging apps. Until recently, finding an electric vehicle charging point that accepted contactless card payments wasn’t as easy as you’d expect. Instead, different charging points used different apps to process payments.
Whilst contactless is now more common on the EV charging network, your drivers may still encounter a charging point that requires one of these apps. This is just another complication in the purchasing and expense claiming process.
Should you still use a fuel card once you adopt electric vehicles?
In short, yes. The way that we fuel our vehicles may be changing, but paying for it is just as easy.
One of the main benefits of using a fuel card is that they can give your drivers access to a large range of chargers. You won’t need to worry about having the correct app installed.
Each of your drivers can be given their own individual fuel card, meaning their payments can be tracked and linked to their vehicle.
A single, consolidated HMRC approved invoice will be provided to you. This means that there is no need to keep track of receipts, and your admin time will be massively reduced.
Many fuel card offerings also give drivers the option to pay for regular fuel as well. This means you don’t have to take the huge leap of transitioning to an electric fleet overnight. You can start by introducing a few electric vehicles to your fleet and slowly phase out your ICE vehicles. After all, you won’t be able to buy any new combustion engine vehicles after the 2030 ban, so it’s worth preparing yourself for this change now.
As of April 2021, only 6% of businesses were using a fuel card to charge their electric vehicle. That’s 94% of businesses missing out on the huge benefits they offer. Say you’ve already made the transition to EVs, why not get even further ahead of the competition?
With this card, you’ll get access to over 7,500 charging points in the UK. 900 of these points are also rapid charging.
The Shell EV Card can also be used at Shell Recharge sites. Shell Recharge is Shell’s network of rapid EV chargers. They use 100% renewable energy and can provide most vehicles with 0-80% charge in just half an hour.
Of course, this card can also be used to pay for petrol and diesel, if you are operating a mixed fleet.
It’s no secret that saving costs on fuel is a core goal for virtually all commercial fleets, but did you know that taxi fleets in particular could be missing out on huge savings?
That’s the idea we’ll explain to you in this article, as we look at how taxi drivers operate, and which specific benefits of a fuel card can enhance taxi businesses.
Taxi fleets and fuel consumption
When compared to your typical fleet of HGVs making long-distance deliveries, a taxi fleet is likely to consume a considerable amount of fuel while the vehicles are actually stationary. With every minute a taxi driver spends waiting for customers to enter and exit the vehicle safely, precious fuel is burnt to keep the engine running, and this is commonplace for the majority of taxis operating on UK roads today.
While stop-start technology could diminish this issue slightly, digital apps such as Uber are effective at letting customers know that drivers have arrived – and so drivers similarly know that they aren’t likely to be kept waiting for long before customers hop into their vehicles. Consequently, there may not seem to be much of a point in turning off the engine at all.
The greatest concentration of taxis is found in densely populated city areas, and with taxi fleets typically looking to make frequent, short journeys and keep occupancy high- there’s a constant demand to fill up. So, broadly speaking, taxis consume an enormous amount of fuel when compared to your average commercial fleet – and so operators must ask themselves ‘how can the cost of fuel be properly offset or reduced?’
How to tackle fuel costs
When fuel costs are high, one instinct many business owners have is to increase the price of each journey. By having the customers pay a slightly higher fare, profits can be protected – and this philosophy works for many businesses. Particularly in cities or areas whereby many quality taxi ranks are operating, however, the competitive landscape needs to be taken into account.
If your competition is offering a reliable service while undercutting your price, they may be making slightly smaller profits on each individual taxi ride, while generating substantially more sales overall. When both yourself and your competitors acknowledge this, the commercial taxi market will often reach an equilibrium whereby different providers are coming in at fairly similar price points.
Finding a competitive edge
In these established markets, it’s vital that any opportunity to improve profitability is seized, and one of the best ways of achieving this is actually tackling your costs head on with a fuel card. Fuel cards essentially provide you with a discount on each litre of fuel you purchase, which often racks up incredibly quickly for taxi fleets.
They’re also particularly useful given that taxi fleets often repeat the same routes, and operate within a fixed area. Naturally, if you’re aware of which fuel providers operate at your local garages, which our handy Pump Locator service can help you with, then you may find yourself in a position where you can purchase a fuel card that specifically benefits you based on that nearby petrol stations data.
Tips on applying for a fuel card
If the picture we’re painting around taxi drivers’ challenges, operations, and the opportunity to save money on fuel, rings true to you- then you may be ready to start exploring the world of fuel cards and finding the card that best suits your drivers.
We have built a fuel card selector tool to help guide you through this very process, however it’s worth considering:
What coverage you’ll need. Some fuel cards offer nationwide coverage, whereas others are locked to specific regions. You may find that the perk of national coverage isn’t actually beneficial to your local taxi business, and consequently consider putting more weight into considering other benefits when choosing between cards.
Payment terms and credit options. Some fuel card providers offer an attractive range of payment perks, such as terms around advance payments, or even their own downloadable apps that can help you authorise fuel payments quickly.
Transaction fees. Certain fuel stations will require that you pay a transaction fee upon making a purchase, which can add up if you’re making regular visits. That isn’t the case with all fuel cards, though, such as Texaco Fastfuel, and so taking the time to review your options carefully could result in great savings across the board.
Ultimately, understanding the total amount of distance your drivers are covering on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis, then reconciling that data with the types of savings you could be making with a fuel card, is a great place to start for commercial taxi fleets. It could result in you edging out over your competitors with a more financially viable, long-term fuel strategy – and there are a million things you could do with your savings to drive your business forward; from marketing to investing in new equipment and people.
How can Fuel Card Services help?
At Fuel Card Services, we help UK businesses save money on their fuel costs every day. We’re the UK’s largest fuel card provider, so whether you’re running a commercial taxi fleet or operate around delivering goods, we’re confident that our experts can help you find a fuel card solution that works for your business. Why not get in touch to find out how we can support you?
Of course, implementing a thorough strategy to minimise costs and maximise the efficiency of your fleet goes way beyond using a fuel card. While it’s an excellent starting point, we’d also recommend browsing our range of professional fleet services which are designed to make it easier for you, as an operator, to manage and overcome the day-to-day challenges you’re likely to face.
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