• Over the last few weeks, the FleetCards USA TrendWatch council has been keeping a close eye on the rising price of fuel. More expensive fuel has hampered the efforts of small businesses to recover from the recent recession and put a strain on budgets nationwide. Luckily, diesel and oil prices have slackened just in time for the Memorial Day weekend, giving businesses reason for cautious optimism.

     

    diesel oil prices declineOn-highway diesel prices fell 6.4 cents nationally this week, according to the United States Department of Energy. This brings the national average price just below $4 once again.  On the Gulf Coast, prices stood at $3.935, with California still leading the nation at $4.287.

     

    This drop in prices comes from a sharp dip in oil prices early in May, which brought the market price to under $100 per barrel. Prices have continued to drop for June delivery due to strengthening of the U.S. dollar amid concerns over European sovereign debt. Prices at the pump should continue to dip over the next few weeks, but there is no certainty that these lower prices will last in the long term.

     

    The volatility of the oil market and uncertainty of fuel prices is a fact of life in the business world. Good fuel management is a helpful tool to mitigate these ups and downs, but there are plenty of other ways that some companies have coped with higher prices.  What is your business doing to protect your budget during uncertain times?

     

     

    Photo courtesy of Brian Cantoni and re-used under the Creative Commons license.

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  • Not sure which vehicles to purchase for your business? Let us help you with the 2011 Fuel Economy Comparison, detailing the best, the worst and the common misconceptions with fuel efficiency.

     

    Fuel Economy Comparisons 2011 FleetCards USA

     

    Please feel free to post this information on your blog. We've provided you with the embedded code below to make it easier.

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  • New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie spoke at a recent town hall meeting about the state’s fleet expenses. With fuel becoming more expensive, large fleets will see even bigger expense spikes than small commercial fleets. How much are you spending in a year?

     

    New Jersey operates 9,082 fleet vehicles for a workforce of over 70,000 state employees, providing a vehicle for less than 10 percent of its total workforce. Of those, 1,205 are assigned exclusively to individual staff members for their constant use. The rest are used occasionally by staff as needed.

     

    Now That’s a Gas Bill! New Jersey Spends $16.4 Million on Fleet Fuel in 2010

    The state spent $16.4 million to fuel its vehicles in its fiscal 2010 budget.

     

    The good news may be that the state has embarked on reducing the fleet in the past year. As of January 2010, the state used 9,617 vehicles. In the past 15 months, the state has cut 535 of them.

     

    "When we drive for district business, we don't get reimbursed," said Assemblyman John Amodeo, R-Atlantic.

     

    Pratt said the state decides to allow the use of a car based largely on cost-saving factors.

     

    "It makes sense to provide employees with cars when an auto is essential to performing a job, and when the cost of reimbursing an employee for use of a private auto is higher than providing them with a car from the motor pool," he said.

    Insuring employees for using their own cars when their work involves transporting other individuals, especially children, is more costly than designating a car for that purpose, he said.

     

    "In all but a few circumstances, employees take cars home when it's less costly than having the state pay extra for parking or garage services," he said. "Even then, cars are not supposed to be used for anything but work-related activities."

     

    [via Press of Atlantic City]

     

    Photo courtesy of Steven Depolo and re-used under the Creative Commons license.

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  • Today, for the 10th dumbest mistake a fleet fuel manager can make, we are talking about change. Please embrace it, because it is always just around the corner.

     

    #10- Idiot-proofing your fleet: Avoiding the 10 dumbest mistakes you can make managing your fleet fuel expenses.

    10. Fearing Change

     

    The Problem- Resistance to change in company structure or policy can be jarring for fleet managers.

     

    The Solution- A fleet card creates such a flexible system for managing your fuel expenses that changes are easy to accept and adapt to.  No matter what happens in your daily operations, your fuel management system will continue to serve as the foundation for your fueling without needing a lot of restructuring or retraining. 

     

    With the support and power of a fleet card backing your business up, there’s nothing your fleet can’t accomplish.  It’s easy to make dumb mistakes along the road, but you only need to make one smart choice: a fleet card from FleetCards USA.

     

    Enjoying the articles? Check out our other responses to the Top 10 Mistakes.Read #9  

    Read #8   Read #7    Read #6      Read #5      Read #4      Read #3      Read #2      Read #1

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  • This story from FleetOwner shows that some freight trucking companies are less than concerned about rising fuel prices due to currently booming business, but even these confident businesses are aware that a change in the wind may be coming:

    A strong recovery in truck freight tonnage this March following rough winter weather and a continued run-up in oil prices is allaying fears for the moment that the U.S. economic recovery might lose its footing.

    Fuel Prices Not a Big Problem for Freight…Yet!

    “Despite my concern that higher energy costs are going to begin cutting into consumer spending, tonnage levels were pretty good in March and the first quarter of the year,” Bob Costello, ATA’s chief economist, noted in a statement.

    However, while Costello is confident that the trucking industry will continue to grow and recover from the weak freight environment seen in recent years, the rapid spike in fuel prices will slow that growth.  “But as long as U.S. manufacturing activity remains strong, truck tonnage will benefit,” he added..

    Going forward, however, high oil prices – and the high gasoline and diesel fuel prices they create – will bear close watching over the next three to four months in terms of how they affect the U.S. economy as a whole and freight tonnage in particular, Starks said.

    “Everyone is getting worried because pump prices are now front page news,” he noted. “Will it change the consumer’s buying habits materially? Will they start cutting back on purchasing goods in order to pay for fuel? We haven’t seen that shift yet but it bears watching.”

    As we move into summer, fuel prices are expected to go up even more, so now is a good time to start thinking about smart fuel management. Take a moment and see how FleetCards USA can help to save your company money in a volatile market.

     

    Photo courtesy of cupcakes2 and re-used under the Creative Commons license.

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  • Happy Friday and welcome to our response to the 9th topic in the 10 dumbest mistakes fleet managers can make.

    #9- Idiot-proofing your fleet: Avoiding the 10 dumbest mistakes you can make managing your fleet fuel expenses - Ignoring Salespeople

    9. Ignoring Salespeople

     

    The Problem- Fleet managers tend to avoid or shrug off meetings with salespeople, which carries the risk of being uninformed about options.  Upper management doesn’t look kindly on a manager who doesn’t care about potential partners.

     

    The Solution- With all the time you’ll save with a fleet card, you’ll have enough time to talk to all the salespeople you want.  And probably still have enough time left to take a nice long lunch.  Also, salespeople will usually leave you a nice pen.

     

    Enjoying the articles? Check out our other responses to the Top 10 Mistakes.


    Read #8   Read #7    Read #6      Read #5      Read #4      Read #3      Read #2      Read #1

     

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  • California has had laws on the books for quite some time now concerning cell phone use while operating a motor vehicle.  But the wide functionality of new mobile devices is creating some problems with enforcement for the state’s police force. With many other states creating similar legislation, it is important to know what law enforcement is doing regarding everyday mobile device use by drivers.

    Hands-Free Cell Use Tricky to Enforce

     

    "When you look for loopholes, the whole issue of cell phone use, texting or distracted driving becomes confusing, if not overwhelming," California Highway Patrol Officer Steve Creel said.

     

    For example, it's legal to read, select and enter a phone number while driving - as long as you put the phone down before talking. But you can't send a text while sitting at a red light. Some officers say it's OK to play some music from your phone if it's done quickly. But most - though not all - say using the phone's GPS function is not legal if the phone is held in the hand.

     

    "Hands-free means hands-free," said Ontario police Detective Diane Galindo. "You cannot have the phone in your hands, period."

     

    Fines and fees for cellphone use behind the wheel now run to $159 and would increase to more than $300 under proposed legislation.

     

    "We can't issue a citation to someone who is downloading music to an iPod or downloading information on their GPS, but if someone is distracted when they're using their hand-held devices and swerving side to side, we can issue a citation," Lopez said.

     

    Yet punching in a phone number to make a call - which takes more concentration than a brief phone conversation - is legal.

     

    Galindo said the California Vehicle Code is full of rules regarding driver distractions.

     

    "If you were to look through a vehicle code book, there are so many different sections that cover impeding the drivers' ability to drive safely," she said.

     

    [via Mercurynews.com]

     

    Photo courtesy of Lisa Padilla and re-used under the Creative Commons license.

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  • Over the last few days, we have talked about a few simple things fleet fuel managers can do to make their lives easier. Here is one mistake we have all made…

    #8- Idiot-proofing your fleet: Avoiding the 10 dumbest mistakes you can make managing your fleet fuel expenses. Doing it all Yourself

     

    8. Doing It All Yourself

     

    The Problem- Making yourself indispensable to your job secures your current job, but keeps you out of the running when promotions come around.

     

    The Solution- Fleet cards handle the mundane daily tasks of fleet management including fuel and maintenance, which frees you up from having to do everything yourself.  You shouldn’t have to spend so much time taking care of every little thing when there is a solution that will make your job easier and your life better.  If a new fleet manager comes in to take your place after a promotion, it’s easy to pass the system on to them without extensive (and expensive) training.

     

    Enjoying the articles? Check out our other responses to the Top 10 Mistakes.

    Read #7    Read #6      Read #5      Read #4      Read #3      Read #2      Read #1

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  • April was a good month for Detroit, with both General Motors and Ford Motor Co. seeing increased sales of commercial vehicles to fleet customers. With the economy beginning to recover, has your fleet been reinvesting in new vehicles?

     

    GM, Ford Fleet Sales Rise

    Ford’s fleet sales were up 31 percent (commercial was up 33 percent, government grew 10 percent, and daily rental increased 39 percent) during the month. Year-to-date, total sales were up 16 percent, with fleet sales up 14 percent.

     

    Fleet sales for General Motors’ four brands were 75,868 for the month, a 31-percent increase in April, with sales to commercial customers increasing 21 percent. The automaker said this is the 13th consecutive month of commercial fleet sales gains. Fleet accounted for 33 percent of GM total sales during the month.

    When it comes to specific models, GM did not specify fleet vs. retail sales, but the company said sales of its fuel-efficient vehicles are rising.

     

    [via Automotive Fleet]

     

    Photo courtesy of Andrea_44 and re-used under the Creative Commons license.

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  • Today’s post of the 10 dumbest mistakes fleet fuel managers can make, is about selecting the right fleet card for your company.

    Going for a “Single Selection

    7. Going for the "Single Selection"

    The Problem- Fleet managers should avoid buying fleet vehicles from a single manufacturer.  Doing so causes problems in case of a recall, and limits the drivers’ choice of vehicles to use.

    The Solution- Okay, so we can’t really help you on the whole vehicle purchasing thing.  But if choice is something you’re looking for in your fleet operations, you’re in luck.  A fleet card provides options for every level of your fuel purchasing from how much fuel your drivers can buy at any given time to several levels of customization on reports.  You may not be getting a new car with it, but with all the money you save you can probably afford some sweet new rides next year.

    Enjoying the articles? Check out our other responses to the Top 10 Mistakes.

    Read #6      Read #5      Read #4      Read #3      Read #2      Read #1

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