There are only a few things that are out of the hands of fleet fuel managers; the price of fuel itself may be one of them. But there are other ways to still have a handle on your fleet fuel
management. Take, for instance, the WAY that your fleet fuels. Do you use mobile fueling or fuel at a retail station? Mobile fueling could be one of the things a fleet fuel manager has under control, and its convenience is unmatched.

Fueling at retail may not just incur the price of the fuel your driver purchases. Take into account the miles it may have taken for the driver to find or get to that station. Consider the time and miles used to detour from the designated route to find that station, those miles did not have to be wasted. Also the unpredictability of the fuel prices at that fuel station may not accommodate your planned fuel budget. Imagine too if the station was busy and the truck had idled for more then a few minutes; there goes more fuel down the drain. Mobile fueling will essentially bring the fuel to you. The trucks will be tanked up and ready to go each day, and now there's no reason to have drivers deviate for fuel.

Another factor to contemplate is the driver and labor costs. If that detour for fuel took half an hour, including fueling time, how much were you paying the driver to fuel up? If that vehicle had more then one occupant, that would have doubled the wages you paid for a simple fleet fuel stop. Mobile fueling would eliminate the need for a driver to use precious drive time to fuel up and allow for a more efficient and productive trip. We all know how difficult hours of service can be to comply with.

Mobile fueling also would help to keep the fuel budget under control, as there may be volume discounts or a possibility of price negotiability. In some cases, prices may be locked in. Invoicing will be easier, as all the fuel is from one source. With mobile fueling, there's no need to be overwhelmed by fuel prices or worried about drivers fueling on the road. In fact, mobile fueling may even offer peace of mind.

If you look at the whole picture cost to fuel, that is fuel cost and drivers' labor, what are you really paying? If your fuel margin at a retail location is 15 cents and you're paying your driver $16 an hour and it takes him half an hour to fuel, it just cost you $8 for him to fuel your truck. Take that one step further, and let's say he filled that truck with 50 gallons. Your cost for your driver to fuel that truck was 16 cents a gallon. You paid the driver 16 cents a gallon and the retail location another 15 cents a gallon in fuel margin for a total of 31 cents a gallon. You might be able to have a mobile fueling company fleet fuel your trucks for 25 cents, saving you 6 cents per gallon. On a 50-gallon fuel up, that's $3.00 if you have 30 trucks. That comes out to savings of $90 a day, and now we are talking fuel savings.

Mobile fueling might not be for every operation or for all areas of the country, but it is something to think about as you look toward saving money in total fuel cost in 2010.

Glen Sokolis is president of Sokolis Group, a nationwide fuel management and fuel consulting company, You can reach him at [email protected] or (267) 482-6160.

Previous installments of "Friday Fuel:"
* "Successful Fuel Management Program Equals Discipline", 9-11-09
* "Who's Watching Your Fuel Program," 9-18-09
* "Fleet Fuel Margins: Are You Paying Too Much?" 9-25-09
* "How Do You Audit Your Fleet Fuel Invoices?" 10-2-09
* "Fleet Fuel Price Negotiating: Details, Details", 10-9-09
* "Mobile On-Site Fueling", 10-16-09
* "The Bees Are Still Buzzing: Handling Fuel on a Daily Basis", 10-23-09
* "Fleet Fuel Card Shopping", 10-30-09
* "Is Your Fuel Management Ready for Winter?", 11-6-09
* "Don't Let the Weather Freeze Your Deliveries", 11-13-09
* "Fuel Management or Fuel Inventory? That is the Question", 11-20-09
"Put Your Fleet Fueling Policy in Place For 2010, Part I", 12-4-09
"Put Your Fleet Fueling Policy in Place For 2010, Part II", 12-11-09
"Be Safe, Not Sorry With Fuel Management During the Holidays", 12-18-09
"Looking Back: 2009 Fuel Management in Review", 12-23-2009
"Oil's Ups and Downs", 1-8-2010
"Why Oil Does What It Does When It Comes to Prices", 1-15-2010
"Controlling Fuel Efficiency When Fuel Prices Are Unpredictable", 1-22-2010