Manage fuel costs and implement employee controls with fleet cards.
Identifying ways to reduce expenses and maximize workforce productivity is essential for business success in today’s state of recovery. For a construction business, fuel can be one of the most costly, overlooked expenses. To control this expense, many companies use fleet cards as a cost savings and management tool.
Fleet cards are credit cards that let business owners or their managers report and control fuel and maintenance expenses. Typically, each driver is given a card with a unique pin number to make work-related purchases. Fleet cards offer detailed reporting and cost-control restrictions that a gas card cannot provide. These capabilities can help a company achieve a 10- to 15-percent savings in fuel expenditures within the first year of implementing a fleet card system. Constructioncompanies that operate as few as two vehicles can benefit from using fleet cards.
With rising oil prices and an unstable economy, an employee’s temptation to use the company’s dollar for personal use is at an all-time high. Company theft must be monitored closely. A gas card or credit card does not provide a company full control over what their drivers purchase—they can easily purchase convenience store items or fuel their personal vehicles. Fleet cards, on the other hand, help companies identify unauthorized behavior and prevent it.
A business owner can set restrictions unique to each driver. Some common restrictions include the types of purchases an operator can make (fuel only, fuel and maintenance, etc.), how much fuel a driver can purchase per day and where drivers can make purchases. For example, if a driver tries to purchase fuel after work hours, a fleet card system will not allow the transaction. The system will also send an alert to the account manager identifying the driver trying to make the purchase. With an instant alert, the situation can be rectified immediately.
A fleet card system provides line-by-line reporting that outlines what, when and where each cardholder made a purchase. This significantly reduces administrative tasks. Hours no longer have to be wasted matching expense receipts to jobs and organizing reimbursement checks. Fleet card reporting can reveal important information such as underperforming vehicles or drivers with bad habits that lead to costly maintenance and wasted fuel. For example, if one vehicle burns fuel at a much faster pace than another, it could indicate the driver has poor habits such as excessive idling.
Fleet cards also offer employees support. For companies that operate on a cash basis, drivers generally have to pay for initial work expenses out of their pockets and then wait for reimbursements from the company. Drivers with fleet cards do not have to use their own money for work expenses or worry about tracking receipts.
Some sophisticated fleet cards also offer a range of maintenance services. Fleet card reporting can help companies track a vehicle’s routine maintenance checks by setting a requirement that monitors mileage each time a driver fuels up. Since fleet cards can restrict where drivers take vehicles for maintenance, companies can ensure approved professionals service their fleet.
Fleet cards service more than the construction industry, which means they are connected to a large network of authorized fuel and maintenance merchants. This gives drivers a range of acceptance stations, and they have the opportunity to negotiate volume savings on monthly purchases. Most fleet cards also offer additional company benefits such as a 24/7 emergency roadside assistance program ensuring drivers have support and can get back on the job as soon as possible.
Questions to Consider
To select the right system for your company’s unique needs, consider these factors:
- How many vehicles do you have in your fleet?
- Do you need diesel fuel?
- Is your business national, statewide or local?
- Do you need to track maintenance repairs?
- Is it important for your drivers to make non-fuel related purchases (i.e., meals or hotel costs)?
- Do you have a problem with theft?
Construction Business Owner, October 2011