09 July 2020
For busy fleet managers, the importance of monitoring fuel usage and controlling consumption is one job on a list of many to run an effective and efficient fleet.
Fuel cards can help manage these requirements by providing a quick and easy way to purchase fuel and manage its usage - a vital part of any operation as fuel generally accounts for around 30% of wholelife fleet costs.
One of the main benefits of using a fuel card for company vehicles is you can easily control and measure the purchase of petrol and diesel. As a result you can manage your business vehicles more effectively.
So what are the advantages of fuel cards for fleets, and how can they help save your business money, make employees safer and improve the running of your company vehicles?
Access lower cost fuel
For many fleets, accessing cheaper fuel is one of the main reasons for choosing a fuel card. Whether it is to get the benefit of discounts off the pump price, or to sign up to lower wholesale or bunkering prices (principally for commercial vehicle fleets), a fuel card can offer all of these.
The savings can be significant too. A 100-strong fleet of vehicles, averaging 50mpg and 20,000 miles a year each, buying diesel at an average of 120p per litre, could cost a business more than £200,000 in fuel annually.
So taking advantage of the potential benefits of fuel cards to purchase lower priced fuel will have a positive impact on a business’ bottom line.
With Allstar for example, you could save up to 10p per litre of diesel purchased across Allstar’s exclusive, 1,300-strong, Discount Diesel network*.
Drivers can also identify low cost fuel prices wherever they are, through Allstar’s UK Fuel Price tool.
Understand your business costs
Most businesses will have a very clear view of their operational costs as they are accruing them, but an issue with fuel purchasing is that it often happens out of sight and away from depots and offices.
If purchased privately and then reclaimed through expenses, that lag can be marked, and the recording of that spend can be spread throughout the company. Consequently, it can require a lot of effort to bring all fuel expenses together and collate them into demonstrable numbers that allow management to truly understand the overall cost to the business.
A fuel card can help smooth the impact of purchasing, because the spend ends up in one place and thanks to much quicker reporting through dashboards such as Allstar’s online portal, which then offer analysis of prices and volumes too.
So there is far more clarity about overall, and specific, spend among departments, drivers and vehicles.
The result is that you are far more able to understand costs which ultimately affect your bottom line and profitability, allowing you to do something proactive about them, too.
Control purchasing with a fuel card
If you run a fleet, it’s likely you have tight controls over what vehicles you buy and how they are operated. The same rigour should be applied to how they are fuelled, and fuel cards allow you to do this.
They will help you to control what drivers buy and, crucially, where. If necessary, you can put in place measures about which stations are used to ensure drivers always choose cheaper brands or types, such as filling up with supermarket fuel rather than motorway services, for example.
With certain Allstar cards, you can also put controls on types of fuel (such as premium petrol and diesel), as well as limiting volumes, - flagging up a driver putting 100 litres in a tank that can only hold 60 - or if they put too much in on any given day which can help to combat fraud.
Another control is time. If a driver has use of a vehicle between specific hours, you can set parameters to ensure they aren’t filling up outside of those times.
These measures help keep you in control of purchasing, and the benefits to buying cheaper fuel is clear. But it also sends a crucial message to employees about a company’s culture – that a fuel card offers flexibility and fairness, but with that comes responsibility to meet the standards of the business.
Create knowledge using fleet solutions
As well as cheaper petrol and diesel, fuel card providers often offer numerous associated fleet services and access to management data which will help you learn more about your vehicles, and importantly, how your business operates.
A fuel card supplier such as Allstar offers data on prices, volumes, locations and mileages so you can drill into activity to discover inefficient working practices, vehicles that are not delivering the requisite economy and drivers who spend too much, or don’t drive economically.
You can keep control of actual business mileage too, highlighting any employees who are abusing the system by adding miles on when they should not, and so identifying potential fraud.
This data will help reveal real world performance of all the vehicles on your fleet as well, so that you can determine those that do not deliver the required economy, and replace them with more efficient vehicles.
You will be able to monitor vehicle mileage too, which will ensure services are not missed, and if you lease, it will help to avoid going over mileage limits and incurring expensive excess mileage charges.
Ultimately, using cards gives you a view of the current state of your fleet and actionable data, by creating profiles which can help procurement, allocation and defleet strategies.
Fleet management made easier
Anyone involved in running a fleet will be aware of the administration burden that comes with it. By providing fleet fuel cards, you can significantly streamline some of the major processes involved in fleet management.
Allstar’s associated reporting systems allow you to automatically receive VAT-compliant invoices, for example, saving the time and hassle of chasing drivers for paper receipts.
Consequently, because these invoices are in one place it is much easier to match mileage to spend, and online portals will give you the ability to create reports about your fleet’s fuel use, saving significant time and effort.
By keeping tight controls on fuel purchasing, and therefore business mileage, you will, (where permitted) be able to claim back more of the VAT on petrol and diesel (and now, even electric) bought for business purposes and submit returns quickly, claiming back the VAT you may be owed more efficiently.
Streamline business expenses
Expenses are an age-old issue for many companies and employees claiming for business travel, and fuel can be a substantial element of them.
Lost receipts, incorrectly filled-in expense forms and late claims all create confusion and delay, and cloud a company’s ability to understand where its real costs are, as well as affecting cash flow. With cards such as Allstar Plus you can manage expenses in real-time with digital receipts.
A fuel card groups purchasing in one place and clears up this confusion, allowing employees to get on with their work rather than spending hours digging out receipts and filling out forms, while you can avoid expending valuable management energy and time issues chasing, scrutinising or challenging spend.
Our Business Mileage Monitor will not only help you monitor mileage, but also separate out private and business mileage and create an HMRC-compliant audit trail. You can find out more about it here.
Make business travel effective
All businesses want to operate more efficiently and effectively, and a fuel card provides fleet solutions that can help achieve this.
By choosing the right one, you can access fuel out on the road where it suits your operation and drivers.
With employees’ time and resources at a premium, you can provide them with a solution that limits deviation off a route, or offers wide choice, and gives them intelligence and insight into where to get the cheapest fuel through online price checking and mapping.
At Allstar, our cards give you access to more than 7,700 fuel stations and 90% of the UK network, and our site locator helps you find those sites even more efficiently.
Create competitive advantages, whatever the fuel price
Whatever the price of fuel, purchasing via a company fuel card makes sense because controlling spend helps you drive down cost which in turn creates a competitive advantage by having a leaner and more effective operation.
So while a period where the price of fuel is low is welcome, there are still gains to be made as your business is creating further savings and your competitors are not.
Buying in this way is part of a fleet procurement strategy that proactively drives down cost across all areas.
Stop mileage fraud and have safer drivers
Fuel cards can help reduce fraud, and this in turn can lead to both savings and better employee relations, while the reporting can show up drivers who are not economical, and might be driving too quickly or not looking after their vehicles.
Mileage claims, a historic area of incremental fraud by employees looking to claw more money back from employers, can be eradicated by reporting and with number plate matching, they will not be able to add tankfuls to other vehicles.
It will also become clear which drivers are using more fuel than others, which is a reliable indicator of poor driving skills, speeding or issues with vehicle maintenance, such as under-inflated tyres. By finding these facts out, you will be able to make your fleet safer.
At Allstar, we can offer you fuel cards, business credit cards or full expense solutions. You'll find that we have a card to suit your business requirements perfectly, and help you drive down your fuel bill through:
- Savings on fuel*
- A nationwide network of stations
- Powerful fleet data
- Streamlined administration
- Price-checking tools
*Savings on diesel can be made at participating Discount Diesel sites on our network when the card is swiped