Figures from petrolprices.com, a website which monitors 11,000 garages in Britain, show that the average price of a litre of unleaded is now more than 132 pence – equivalent to a £6 gallon.
Neville Briggs, managing director at CFC Solutions, said: “Every day we talk to fleet managers who see fuel as a cost that cannot be controlled yet our experience is actually that it is one of the fleet costs that responds best to tighter management.
“There are all kinds of steps that can be taken, most of which can be put in place quickly and easily. If you work on a new fuel strategy today, it could certainly be producing results for you with a month or so.
“The bottom line is that fuel is rising faster than any other fleet cost and there is a strong argument for fleet managers to make 2011 the year when they really take control of their spending in this area.
“Whatever you do, petrol and diesel costs are going to continue to rise but you can slow the rate of increase.”
CFC has a standard five point plan for fuel:
- Win the fuel argument. Within your organisation, you are likely to meet with scepticism about the idea that fuel use can be controlled – have information to hand that will support your argument.
- Justify every journey. Make drivers and their managers think before they jump into a company car or van to make a journey. They need to consider 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 said: “This isn’t rocket science. It is all about reducing fuel use, monitoring spending and taking control. There is no excuse for not taking fuel seriously.”