People are always surprised to learn that over 1.5 percent of a company's fleet fueling budget goes to theft and that 81 percent of fuel thefts are an inside job

, with the other 19 percent being an outsider siphoning off fuel or using one of your fleet fuel cards without proper authorization.

Through the use of tools such as exception reporting and fuel purchase alerts, fuel managers now have the tools to enforce cost-saving policies quickly, not weeks after the fact. If a driver makes a purchase outside parameters set by the fleet manager (buying premium rather than the specified regular), this information is recorded instantly and appears on a regular billing statement, along with the driver's name and vehicle number. Hours can make all the difference; as a fleet manager, you want to be able to quickly enforce your fleet fueling decisions.

We've all heard of "management by exception" and when you're dealing with hundreds, or even tens of thousands of fleet fuel transactions, it's really the ONLY way to go. For many, highlighting problem areas is the most cost-effective, accurate and efficient way to implement, manage and enforce a successful fuel management policy. With exception reporting, fleet fueling information is funneled through the company's policy parameters and sorted to show where, when and by whom fleet fueling policies are being disregarded.

These are seven tips to putting together an effective fleet fueling policy for your company to help control your diesel fuel prices:

* Once your fleet fueling policy is in place, the next step is to clearly communicate the new policy to each and every driver in your fleet. Let them know that all diesel fuel purchases are being monitored and that all exceptions, especially repeated infractions, will need to be justified.

* Every time a driver fills a tank with a premium or mid-grade fuel, it costs the company as much as 10 to 25 cents or more per gallon. This can add a lot of money to your fuel management program, so make sure you establish the desired grade of fuel for each vehicle and have controls in place to monitor it. The same can hold true if a location offers premium diesel fuel prices.

* Enforce limits at the time of purchase. The most effective way to enforce a fleet fueling policy is to set limits so that purchases outside the limits are not allowed. For example, if you restrict transactions to two per day, the third transaction will be declined at the point of purchase. This will help your fuel management systems and controls.

* Restrict non-fleet fuel products and services. Many fleet managers find it helpful to place restrictions on the kinds of products drivers may purchase with their diesel fuel card: soda, coffee, car washes, etc. This helps to control costs, quality and consistency.

* Control the location, days, and times of fuel purchases. Frequent fuel purchases made with the company's fleet fuel card outside of regular business hours can be a sign of waste and abuse. Make sure your drivers purchase fleet fuel only during business hours, look for fuel purchases that exceed fuel tank capacity, and where possible, eliminate multiple purchases in a single day.

* To help control quality, consistency and cost, mandate the fuel brands your drivers can purchase. Take a close look at fueling stations in your area and select those that offer the best quality for the lowest diesel fuel prices or gas prices. Those that offer biofuels can also help lower your carbon footprint, which is becoming a large national topic.

* Encourage fleet drivers to buy fuel at locations with pay-at-the-pump as they save time and will get your drivers back on the road faster. They will also further reduce any chance of non-fleet fuel purchases inside the store.

If you want to ensure your fuel management program is a winner, it's critical to get every fuel manager at your fleet to identify the problem areas and work through them. Remember, having your fueling policy in place will ensure you're not spending more than you should to meet your fuel needs. A solid foundation for your fuel management starts with a policy and follow through.

Glen Sokolis is president of Sokolis Group, a nationwide fuel management and fuel consulting company, You can reach him at 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
"The Motivation Behind Mobile Fleet Fueling", 1-29-2010
"Fleet Fuel Prices: What are They Now?", 2-5-2010
"Fuel Management Lost at Sea," 3-5-10
* "Spring is in the Air....