Every fleet manager is never really sure if it is good to have fuel tanks on site or a real pain in the neck.
The convenience of having fleet fuel right outside your door makes your fuel management system a lot easier, right? Well ... not so fast. Let's take a look at the positives and negatives fleets have to face by have diesel fuel tanks on site.

Let's start with the fuel management pluses of having a diesel fuel tank. You have the convenience of having a fleet fuel source nearby that never closes. Most fleet managers and company executives believe having the bulk fuel tank will always lower your fleet fuel price. Fuel managers say that their drivers don't have to spend time waiting for fueling. Others say the hassle of fleet fuel cards goes away because the tank is right outside. These and others are all valid points to wanting a fuel tank in your yard.

We believe some companies need this in order to have a solid fuel management system. But there are hidden issues behind having your own fuel tanks. It is always important to know what they are before you jump into bulk diesel fuel with both feet or replace your current tank with another one just because that is what you have always done in the past.

Let's look at some of the potential fleet management issues with a fuel tank.


The federal, state and local governments aren't getting any easier on what the requirements are for fuel tank inventory. Most require daily fueling reads. If your fuel system is fully automated, that won't be an issue. The problem happens when someone is sticking a tank with a fueling pole and getting a stick reading. They then write down the information on paper.

As long as your records are kept up to date daily, your fleet management should be in good shape. Your biggest worry will be fleet fuel spills from drivers not paying attention or a faulty nozzle. A fuel spill can cause huge environmental headaches and costly damage.

Diesel Fuel Prices

With this fuel tank, you believe you are going to have lower diesel fuel prices. You figure that is what the big trucking companies do, so it must be the right thing to do for your fuel management program.

But are you looking at what it costs for your diesel fuel plus what it costs you to fuel your fleet of trucks? What normally happens is you are not able to buy diesel fuel as cheaply as the big trucking company. A lot of times, fleet managers aren't even sure they have a competitive price with all of the other jobs they have going on.

Maybe your fuel island can only hold two trucks and perhaps all of your drivers start the same time and finish the same time, leaving a half dozen waiting in a fueling line at your own location. This adds costs to your diesel fuel prices if you are looking at overall fleet fueling cost.

Fuel Cards

Most fleet management people don't think too much about fuel cards. They figure the driver goes to the fuel island and will write down how many gallons of diesel fuel go into his truck. Fuel theft is big business. If you don't have that diesel fuel tank locked down so the only way the driver can get fuel out of there is with his fuel card, diesel fuel is probably being stolen from your company.

If your fleet fuel is gasoline and you don't have fuel cards, now you're really having fuel stolen from you. 1.5 percent of an average company's diesel fuel budget is stolen; more than 3 percent is lost to theft from gasoline powered fleets.

In most cases this isn't the guy next door with a funnel sucking your fleet management profits away. It is your own loyal employees 81 percent of the time. That's why your company needs a fuel management system for controls with fleet fuel cards and fuel inventory controls.

With most things in life and fleet management solutions there are a lot of pluses and minuses. We just wanted to point out that when fueling, it's more than just low diesel fuel prices at your fuel tank to be successful. It takes a solid fuel management system that involves fuel cards, fuel inventory management, fleet fuel audits and a fleet manager who can make sure diesel fuel prices are low and in line when you buy. These things will help your fueling go a lot easier and your fleet management be successful.

Glen Sokolis is president of Sokolis Group, a nationwide fuel management and fuel consulting company, www.FuelManagementSokolisGroup.com. You can reach him at gsokolis@sokolisgroup.com or (267) 482-6160.

Recent installments of "Friday Fuel:"

* "Are You Comparing Apples to Apples on Fuel Prices?" 9/10/2010.

* "Fuel Management and Seven Tips for Putting Together an Effective Fleet Fueling Program," 9-3-2010.

* "Cheap Diesel Fuel Prices? A Distant Memory", 8-27-10

* "Fleet Fuel: A Look Back and a Glimpse Ahead", 8-6-10

* "Fuel Management When You Least Expect It", 7-2-10

* "Life Is Like Fuel Management: You Never Know What You're Going to Get", 6-11-10

* "Take the Wild Card Out of Fuel Management", 5-28-10