With fuel prices once again starting to rise and impact on businesses, Robert Pieczka looks at the ways company owners can introduce further efficiencies into their business operations to to help combat the issue of rising fuel costs.

Unfortunately few organisations are immune from the negative impact of rising fuel costs. As a result, business owners have begun to feel the pinch of these increases and the time has come to look at implementing a number of changes to counter the rise.

Some businesses may decide to make the tough decisions of increasing their price or reducing the services they offer to cover these increases, but there are other ways to reduce vehicle running costs.

What Van

The first element for businesses to consider is if they are using the right vehicle for the task it is performing. Thinking about the exact role a vehicle will perform before making a purchase could help a company save money. Advances in vehicle technology now mean that a smaller more efficient vehicle can perform many of the same tasks as a larger one.

Business owners should compare all available vehicles across the range to see which best suits their needs. A smaller vehicle will not only be more efficient to run in terms of fuel consumption, but also should be cheaper to purchase in the first instance.

Life cycle

Often the whole life cost of a vehicle is overlooked by business owners when purchases are made. While a vehicle may look cheap on the retailers’ forecourt it may not be the most cost effective option in the long run.

Another key method of reducing vehicle running costs is to analyse how vehicles are used day-to-day as well as monitoring the level of upkeep. Poorly maintained vehicles will consume more fuel, so regular servicing ensures vehicles can perform more efficiently. Clogged filters, old oil, excessive wear to components and poorly adjusted brakes all contribute to reducing fuel economy. In addition, frequent checks of tyre pressure can also have a huge impact on a vehicle’s running costs.

Drop the dead weight

Excess weight has a dramatic impact on fuel consumption. The Department for Transport (DFT) states that on average every 50kg carried will increase fuel consumption by 2%. This is based on the percentage of extra weight relative to the vehicle's weight, so the impact is greater on smaller vehicles. By only carrying what is required each day a business can save a great deal.

Aerodynamics should also be a consideration as drag is an issue facing many businesses. Those companies carrying additional equipment on a roof rack risk higher fuel costs if they are not careful with how they manage the additional loads. DFT figures show an empty roof rack can affect fuel consumption by about up to 10%.

Slow and steady

However, driver behaviour is the cheapest and most effective way to decrease fuel bills. Simply asking drivers to drive slightly slower can have a major impact on fuel consumption. DFT figures state you will use up to 9% more fuel driving at 70mph than you would at 60mph, and up to 15% more fuel than driving at 50mph. Travelling at 80mph can use up to 25% more fuel than at 70mph. Adapting driving style to be gentler with the accelerator, softer when braking and keeping the car moving, are all key to better fuel economy. The introduction of technology such as telematics can help to monitor driver behaviour, capture mileage and fuel consumption, allowing businesses to undertake more accurate tracking and in turn achieve greater savings.

Money, money, money

A change in fuel buying habits is another handy tip. Businesses could be saving on average 3p/litre at the pumps by shopping around for fuel. Most drivers tend to purchase fuel from the same fuel station out of habit or ease. However, by planning ahead and simply switching to supermarket fuel providers businesses could be making a significant saving on their monthly fuel costs.

So with the prospect of further rises ahead there are a number of steps that can reduce the impact on business. Indeed, the simplest changes will have a positive impact on reducing monthly fuel bills. The key thing is to plan ahead. By setting aside a little time each day to either remove excess tools or equipment, travel to a cheaper fuel station or check a vehicle’s tyre pressures, can help save your business money in the long run.

Robert Pieczka is managing director of supermarket fuel card provider fuelGenie