At Acorn Petroleum –a provider of lubricants, grease, fuel and other services based in Colorado, we offer a fleet Fuel Card called the Secure Alert FleetCard®. We are proud of the features of our card, but wanted to talk in general about how fleet cards can help you save money when fuel prices are high.
A fuel card is more than simply a way to pay for fuel. When done well, it is a program not just a card. A fuel program should do many things to help your business be more efficient, by monitoring and then reducing fuel usage and cost. To begin to understand the concept of a fleet fuel card program, first think about the alternatives:
You can provide your drivers cash and have them get fuel. We do not think we need to go far into that option to see the inherent challenges.
You can provide your drivers a credit or debit card and have them get fuel. This can work but does come with real risks. First, we should talk about the abuse risk; and then secondly, the reporting/monitoring risk. When you trust a driver with a credit or debit card, you are putting a stress test on the relationship between the driver and the company. The old adage that it is a business’ job to keep honest employees honest and not tempt them unnecessarily to do a bad thing, applies here. An employee with a credit or debit card in-hand can buy fuel as intended but could choose a higher grade than is needed. The employee could buy the desired fuel plus the top-car wash. In the extreme, the employee can buy the fuel — pay inside the store and have a cleric also include a sandwich and drink and ring it all up as fuel (it can be done if you choose the right (wrong) station and the right (wrong) clerk). With this option you do not know what is happening until you get a statement or check the account, so it really comes down to the employees integrity.
This brings us around to the reporting monitoring issue that comes with this approach. To save money when fuel prices are high, you need to really understand your usage. You need to understand usage by vehicle and by driver; and then know what the average usage is (an example would be: in average mpg for truck on a current fill-up vs the average for the vehicle over time). You should understand usage by specific drivers vs other drivers, especially in similar equipment. To have this key information, you need more than just the total cost of the fuel. You need mileage, truck identification, driver identification and fuel type and cost per gallon (including fees). Not only do you need all this information you need it presented in a way where you –as the decision maker can quickly look for issues and evaluate results. Credit and Debit cards do not provide this information by invoice nor by statement.
You can provide your drivers a Branded Fuel card and have them get fuel. This can work but does come with limitations. Typically, this approach is better than using cash, debit-cards or credit-cards but it too has limitations. Some branded fuel cards do provide some of the reporting capability you need and some do have the driver and vehicle set-ups that allow you to get reporting that will allow you do to SOME monitoring and SOME analysis. Typically, this is limited when compared side-by-side to a true fleet fuel card such as Acorn Petroleum’s Secure Alert FleetCard®. Typically, these Branded fuel cards are very difficult to “set-up” and customize so that your employee can only purchase a specific kind and grade of fuel, it is hard to prevent the driver from using the card for car-washes and inside-the-store purchases. Typically, these card cannot be set to control time of day fuel filling and they certainly don’t provide real-time alerts to inform you when a card is being used in a way you may not wish. The biggest limitation is that they are branded, sometimes that branding is a good thing, but in this case, it means that if there is an interruption of fuel availalbity or simply a higher price for the fuel at the branded location, you cannot go across the street and use the card at an alternative fueling location.
You should provide your drivers a fleet Fuel Card such as the Secure Alert FleetCard®.
High Fuel Prices make this decision even more of a “win” and will make you more efficient and effective, all things that will influence the bottom-line. Fleet Fuel card are not all the same. Some will be better at maximizing your advantages in using “A Program” approach to your fuel purchases. We will list here many of the definable advantage of a “good” fleet Fueling Card. If you would like to understand our company and our card we encourage you to contact us: Visit our web-site or call us.
A fuel fleet card like Secure Alert FleetCard® will have and provide you with this kind of critical capability:
A quality statement that comes often enough to be actionable and details not only the total cost of fueling your vehicles, but also provides detail by vehicle, by driver and by filling location. It will provide analysis that will help you quickly see trends and abnormalities pointing to interruptions in driver efficiency and effeteness.
Monitoring and limits– A quality fleet fueling card (such as Secure Alert FleetCard®) will have the ability for you to both restrict and monitor each transaction.
you can control the time of day the card can be used
you can control the grade of fuel that can be used (you would be shocked how many drivers will fuel with the most “premium” fuel available when it is not called for in the application, an action which directly increases the price per gallon in an unnecessary way)
you can control the amount of gallons able to be dispensed (think about filling the vehicle behind your truck, as your driver has a little side gig filling their friends trucks for cash while they are filling your truck)
you can prevent (or include) other purchases like, oil, DEF, car-washes or food
you can include (or exclude) particular filling locations. This very intentional set-up and reporting allows you true control over what you are expecting.
Alerts (sent to you in a timely manner) is one thing that differentiates good fleet fueling card from others. A card such as Secure Alert FleetCard® will have active alert capability that can notify you as the event is happening (after your choose and set-up the correct parameters). These Alerts can help prevent unauthorized usage and help give you the real-time knowledge to manage behavior. Good alerts allow you to know what is happening in real-time. Speaking proverbially, it makes so much more sense to know that “your bank is being robbed while it is happening vs a later note well after the event, telling you that your valuables were stolen last night”.
Captive card-locks designed for commercial vehicles are a huge advantage that are often ONLY accessible with a fleet fueling card. In many places, companies like Acorn Petroleum have card-locks locations designed especially for commercial vehicles. https://www.acornpetroleuminc.com/card-lock-locations/ Typically these kind of sites are only accessible with a fleet fueling card like a Secure Alert FleetCard® ; this means you have the option of sending your drivers to a location where you have total control. These sites typically do not have any time wasting distractions (like a typical Convince store would have). These sites typically are easier to navigate with fewer risk of managing a commercial vehicle in a crowded lot. These sites typically have a fuel quality that you can rely on (very important with diesel vehicles in cold weather). In addition, and importantly, these sites often come with built-in price discounts for the fleet card customers; those differences are even more important than in the past, considering the high fuel prices that we are seeing.
Fueling location flexibility is another key difference between a quality fleet fueling card and others. A quality card will allow you, as the decision maker, to allow your drivers to fuel-up at a commercial site, at a public site or at any particular combination of most any site. A quality card leaves you in control of where to fuel, while still allowing flexibility and contingency options. You cannot operate if you can’t get fuel! However, it is critical that the quality card still provides you the alerts, the reporting and the analytics to understand and manage all you fueling events.
Secure Alert FleetCard®.
Now accepted at 57,000 locations including:
Fraud is always an issue with any card. The risk is much lower with a fleet fuel card for many reasons. One key factor is the card should be assigned to a vehicle and the individual PIN should be assigned to a driver. At both a commercial card-lock and at a retail filling location -like a convenience store or truck stop, a “SKIMMER” device would not be able to capture the truck information on the actual card AND the needed authorization to fill that vehicle by the specific PIN assigned to the driver. In addition, quality cards such as Acorn Petroleum’s Secure Alert FleetCard® is associated with the CFN network, which has built in fraud protection and guarantees against loss due to fraud (assuming all safety protocols were set-up as advised).
Now is the time to consider fleet fueling programs and to find the best card to support your operations. You might not be able to control the price you have to pay for fuel, but you can have a real impact on how much fuel you use, the quality of the fuel you are buying, and most importantly, control the issues that cause your fuel cost to be higher than it has to be due to inefficiency and fraud. It is estimated that more than 10% of your fueling cost could be eliminated by being on a fleet fuel program. The first step for you is choosing a card that will support your operation. We suggest you consider all the features our card has to offer. We are proud of the Secure Alert FleetCard® and invite you to try it.