With gas prices pushing – and in some places exceeding – $4 a gallon for the second time in history, businesses continue to feel the pinch. The cost of fuel, after all, is pretty much part of the cost of doing business; it’s not something you can get away from unless you’re willing to bring your operations to a halt and go out of business.
While prices continue to climb with no end in sight, there are ways for your business to alleviate this vicious pinch to your pocket. Here are some tips from a variety of sources that make sense and that you can start saving with now:
- Group deliveries in the same areas on the same days. Only deliver to certain areas on certain days; consider the day of the week as well (for example, Friday traffic tends to be worse than traffic Monday through Thursday).
- Tell your drivers to shut off their engine if the vehicle is going to sit for more than 10 seconds; don’t let vehicles idle for long periods of time.
- Research an investment in block heaters if you’re in a cold winter state; they’re much more efficient at warming up vehicles than by letting them idle for several minutes.
- It might not be very popular, but consider a fuel surcharge when billing your customers. Most might not like it, but they certainly should understand.
- Use accounting software to track your expenses correctly.
Ask yourself if you have to have the vehicles you have – can you get away with smaller ones, say open-bed pickup trucks instead of big box transport trucks? Consider trading in your delivery vehicles for more fuel-efficient models. When doing this, check and see if there are tax benefits to acquiring these vehicles.
A few other key points to consider :
- Consider hybrid company vehicles.
- Perform maintenance on your vehicles. Dirty oil, filthy air filters, un-tuned engines, and underinflated tires are but a few things that can drag down fuel efficiency.
- Consider having your customers come to you instead of you going to them; even if only a few of your customers switch to this, it can equal big savings in fuel.
- Invest in GPS devices to locate the best/shortest routes. One company with 20 vehicles saved almost $30,000 a year by doing this.
- Change delivery hours to avoid rush-hour traffic.
Even if you only take up one of the above tips, you could go a long way to saving on your next fuel bill. Ultimately, your first investment should be time – take the time to check your books, review your costs, and use that as your base line for when you implement a change. That way, you can check down the road, so to speak, to see what your eventual savings are.