The most fundamental part of my job is understanding what keeps fleet managers awake at night.
Better control over fuel consumption usually comes at the top of the list, particularly for businesses reliant on transport and where employees are required to drive as part of their job.
The need for greater oversight is apparent; in today’s cost-cutting environment where companies need to do more with less, fleet managers are often responsible for reducing operational costs – the most significant of which is usually their spend on fuel.
However, reducing this cost doesn’t just come down to driving fewer miles or reducing the size of your fleet. In fact, the biggest headache facing fleet managers is employee fuel fraud or misuse in the buying and using of fuel.
While getting a handle on this issue may sound like a complicated process, with the right intelligence system fleet managers can ensure they have an accurate picture of fuel spending and ultimately reduce the impact of any wayward activity on their bottom line.
Mastering fuel use and expenditure
At the most basic level, a good supplier will provide intelligence so that fleet managers can take advantage of the two best tools to control fuel costs; solutions to monitor fuel buying and consumption, and fuel-efficient driving techniques.
In terms of monitoring, investing in the right technology is vital. The latest fuel solutions compile and analyse petrol use to create reports using pump prices, vehicle-specific tank capacity and trip records, as well as calculating metrics such as pence per mile and driver efficiency. This helps to not only reduce misuse but also to pinpoint areas for optimisation.
In addition, there are a number of simple driving behaviours that can reduce fuel consumption, such as using the handbrake at traffic lights rather than the clutch and accelerator, and driving in the right gear.
These tips may seem obvious but we all know how easy it is to fall into bad habits and with a few easy changes among drivers really can result in significant savings for the fleet manager.
In fact, our research shows that British drivers waste more than 636m litres of petrol a year through inefficient driving techniques – so, there are clearly business gains to be made.
The pressure on fleet managers to reduce costs, combined with the greater need for vehicle-use in times of business growth, can be challenging. However, by selecting a fuel card supplier who provides the necessary tools and support, not only will they be able to shrink the size of their fuel bills – they’ll also get a good night’s sleep.
John Bostock is account development director at Barclaycard