Like many Americans, you may think about fuel frequently. Gas prices are often a leading news story, and nearly every car commercial assures us of better gas mileage. However, most people are far less likely to think about fuel as a commodity business expense. For any business that uses delivery vans, repair trucks, passenger buses, on-site maintenance vehicles, or generators, having a safe, convenient, cost-effective fuel source is vital for daily operations.
Business owners and managers face a variety of fuel supply choices. But finding the optimal way to keep your business fueled up can lead to significant savings.
At the pump and in the tank
For businesses with a transportation fleet, whether a few cars or a few dozen trucks, cost is sure to be a primary concern when deciding on a fuel source. According to a survey of fleet managers conducted by Automotive Fleet magazine, cost-reduction initiatives represent the top industry challenge, followed by fuel price volatility. Businesses that choose to fuel their vehicles at commercial service stations need to account for fluctuating prices—making budget forecasting difficult and saving strategies elusive.
Another challenge fleet managers cite is the need to increase driver productivity. Businesses that fuel fleet vehicles at service stations must dedicate employee resources to keeping tanks full, taking time away from delivery routes, service appointments, and other responsibilities. Employees should be trained to be fiscally responsible when fueling company vehicles at service stations. Government Fleet magazine recommends incorporating a fuel management program that tracks and provides data on employee fuel purchasing habits.
Businesses whose fueling needs center around on-site maintenance vehicles or generators may choose to store fuel on-premise rather than use service stations. While on-site fuel storage can reduce cost volatility and save employee time, it presents its own set of challenges. Fuel storage tanks are subject to numerous guidelines, at both the state and federal levels. EPA regulations cover tank design, construction, containment, and monitoring. Additionally, businesses are responsible for establishing a suitable inspection system for on-site fuel storage tanks.
Cleaner and greener
Another major consideration for business owners is reducing emissions. The environmental benefit is obvious, and the positive reflection on a business’s reputation is a nice consequence. Unfortunately, businesses may balk at taking steps to reduce emissions from fuel consumption, due to the perceived financial cost.
In reality, reducing emissions, especially from diesel engines, doesn’t need to strain the budget. According to Green Fleet magazine, more incentive funding than ever before is available from all levels of government for companies that switch to cleaner fuel and vehicles. Specific resources include
- the EPA Clean Diesel Program, which provides grants, rebates, and other support for projects that reduce diesel emissions;
- individual state energy offices, which often are the largest state clean air vehicle grant funding sources; and
- local metropolitan planning organizations, which may fund clean air vehicle projects at the regional and city levels.
One solution to many of the fuel sourcing and storage challenges for businesses is using a mobile fuel delivery service, which can reduce employee time spent fueling vehicles and eliminate the need to maintain on-site storage tanks. Such services can be cost-effective for businesses. For example, Innovatix contracted supplier Diesel Direct offers members an average savings of 10% off of regular package rates as well as an array of fuel intelligence data to inform fuel supply decision-making.*
Fuel delivery services can also offer expertise to help businesses be more eco-friendly. For example, Diesel Direct offers Diesel Exhaust Fluid, a non-hazardous solution that is injected into the exhaust steam of diesel vehicles to remove harmful emissions.
While fuel expenses may seem beyond your control, with a little help from fuel specialists, your business can find the right balance between cost, safety, employee productivity, and environmental impact.
* Savings figure is an estimate; your individual savings will vary based on your company’s needs and fuel expenditures.