Monday, October 12, 2009

Cost Management Tip - Managing Vehicle Fleet Expenses

Over the years, we’ve seen energy costs increasing which has an impact on all our daily lives and businesses. If your company has a fleet of trucks, cars and other equipment which uses fuel, you have undoubtedly noticed the rising cost of gas over the last ten or fifteen years. Today, fuel costs almost 2.5 times what it did in 1995 (per data reviewed at the Energy Information Administration). At times in the past few years it has been more than triple 1995 numbers and it wouldn’t be surprising for those energy price levels to return in the next few years. It’s especially important during these challenging times to take advantage of any and all resources available to help manage our business costs in any way we can.

In working with our contractors, as well as discussions with construction industry groups I’ve spoken to in recent years, I’ve raised an issue surrounding the review of fuel transactions. I mention how I’ve heard that a particular individual may fuel up at 2PM on a Friday afternoon and again 8AM the following Monday morning. How can a full tank of gas from Friday afternoon get used so quickly? I usually have people smile and nodding their heads as if they’ve seen that before. I’ve also heard that the frequency with which fill-ups occur begs the question about a card being used perhaps to fill up a spouse’s car with some gas every now and then. Another scenario I’ve been presented with is that many of these fueling stations have mini marts wherein the field personnel will do shopping and add it to the fuel transaction charge resulting in only one charge to appear on the credit card bill.

In the last few years a company called Wright Express has come to my attention. Since Wright Express has been on my radar, I’ve spoken with many contractors who were in fact aware of them and in some cases using them. Many more contractors had never heard of them. If any of the scenarios above resonate with you, you may want to get familiar with Wright Express or a similar service provider. Per their website ( they are a “leading provider of payment processing and information management services to the U.S. commercial and government vehicle fleet industry…The information we collect at the point of sale includes the amount of the expenditure, the identification of the driver and vehicle, the odometer reading, the identity of the fuel or vehicle maintenance provider and the items purchased. This data is captured through our network, which consists of fuel and maintenance locations utilizing our proprietary software.”

I’ve heard from contractors who use their system that the data discussed above is readily available on the statements they receive. I also hear that there are customization options available such that you can control the days/times that fuel may be purchased and set other parameters as well to better control these costs. Every contractor who uses them seems to be very pleased with the service.

I’ve heard, and repeated often, many times over the years “Employees do what we inspect, not what we expect.” The services and information offered by Wright Express seems to provide another means to inspect transactions affecting your businesses.

Please note I have never spoken with anyone at Wright Express nor have any association whatsoever with them.

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