Employers who adopt a companywide approach to company car and van fuel savings involving not just managers of fleets but operations and human resources too will get the best results, says fleet software market leader CFC Solutions.
The company says that fuel is by far the fastest rising cost facing fleets – with prices for diesel having risen by around 20 per cent in the last year and likely to hit an average of £1.30 per litre well before the end of the year.
Neville Briggs, managing director at CFC, said: "The rate of increase in fuel prices is frightening and shows no signs of abating yet we still encounter companies every day who take only limited action to control their fuel spend, or where the fleet manager would like to do more to manage the situation but has little support.
"What we have found works best is where managers of different departments work together on a companywide basis to manage, as far as possible, what is being spent on petrol and diesel. This can have a definite and lasting impact on fuel bills, saving considerable amounts."
Briggs said that fleet managers need to enlist director level support for the measures needed to minimise fuel spend and that a good way to do so was to look at future data for likely fuel prices.
He continued: "If petrol prices continue to rise in the next couple of years in the same way as they have in the last couple, then the £1.60-£1.70 litre will be with us fairly quickly. Figures such as these are a good way to prompt directors into action.
"What is needed is impetus to control vehicle use, driver behaviour and fuel spending at the pumps. Fleet managers cannot do this alone. They need support from operational and human resources managers to make the changes needed."
Briggs proposes a five point plan:
Win the fuel argument. Many directors and managers do not realise that fuel costs can be successfully controlled – use examples of companies that have minimised their fuel spend through proactive measures to support your case.
Justify journeys. A culture needs to be created where drivers and their managers do not just jump into a company car or van to make a journey. They need to think about whether they can combine appointments in the same area, share vehicles for certain appointments or even use alternatives such as video conferencing.
Manage fuel spending at the pump. A surprisingly small proportion of fleets use fuel cards but they are the only reliable way of gathering data about your fleet spend and cutting out employee fraud.
Analyse your fuel data. Fleet software provides the means to analyse the information you have gathered using fuel cards – and enabling you to put measures in place to steer drivers towards cheaper fuel outlets as well as identifying drivers and vehicles with unusually high fuel bills.
Don’t be afraid to challenge drivers. The single largest factor affecting fuel spend in the real world is driver behaviour. A disparity in fuel costs of 20% is not unusual between drivers in identical vehicles on similar routes. Let drivers know that they are being monitored, talk to those who seem to have a heavy right foot and offer training or incentivise them to change their driving style.
Briggs continued: "We have many clients using our fleet software who successfully manage their fuel spend. Bearing in mind the current price of fuel and likely future rises, employers simply cannot afford not to take any action."