By Jack Lee
Management is a series of interruptions, interrupted by interruptions. That’s a pretty good quote. I can’t remember where I heard it, but it’s something that has proven to be true every day around my office. I enjoy the interaction and the challenges facing us in business, and those interruptions are part of it. They can be learning experiences, too, because I have learned to count on my systems and procedures to return some of the time taken by those constant interruptions.
If you are fuel reliant and manage a fleet of trucks or equipment, calculating fuel economy to minimize consumption can take hours of your time—but it is necessary. Without that effort, money will be wasted. The first step to effective fuel management is setting up the reports you will need. Here are my top six:
1. Fuel Economy. This is the number one report you need to help you manage and control the profitability of each unit in your fleet. Get the mileage and fuel consumption by unit, calculate their efficiencies, compare each unit and find out which are the fuel wasters—and fix it.
2. Monthly Fuel Budgets. Budgeting can be a pain, particularly if you leave it to the end of each fiscal year, so reconcile your monthly fuel consumption and build the file as you go. If you have a number of people in outlying regions that are a part of the process, that is even more of reason to keep regular track of your fuel expenditures. Track performance vs. budget, comparing distance, pricing and fuel consumption. The more variables you measure, the better.
3. Invoice Management. Stay on top of your fuel bills and review them as soon as you get them. Have you ever had an invoice that appeared to be wrong? Deal with it quickly—otherwise the problem will grow.
4. Asset Utilization/Monthly Consumption Reports. Check historic reports and calculate trends based on weekly or monthly fuel reports. Gather this information by equipment grouping, region and project. With this bird’s-eye view of your fuel expenses, it is easy to figure out where and when your peak consumption periods are and, more importantly, your return on fuel investment.
5. Fuel Reports by Location. If you refuel from many different sources including on-site or your own centrally located fuel tanks and card-locks, gather these inputs and measure efficiencies by unit and location.
6. International Fuel Tax Agreement (IFTA) Reporting. If you are in the long haul transport business, crossing between provincial and state borders creates a ton of paperwork. Add to that the currency exchange rates that vary daily, and you have a full time job. Keep a daily log, by unit, and the job will be easier—saving you time and money.
Six Reports, One Answer: Fuel Management Online (FMO)
If you have made it through the above list, you now realize how much time it takes to manage your fuel to get the maximum return on your fuel investment. There is a simple solution—it is Fuel Management Online (FMO). 4Refuel’s FMO allows you to quickly get the information you need with the click of a mouse. It gathers data from each piece of equipment and fuelling source. The web-based software is used by more than 6,000 public and private companies. FMO manages millions of gallons of fuel each week for these companies, giving them these six reports and more. All reports are easily imported and exported, regardless of the software systems you use. IFTA Reporting alone, for example, can take up to 15 minutes per unit to gather. FMO can do that in a fraction of the time—saving, on average, one hour per unit, per month.
FMO gives you quick access to all fuel invoices, too, so you can see what was spent—and where. Global positioning system (GPS) capabilities allow you to see where your fleet has been, what fuel was pumped and distance traveled—giving you a virtual report.
These six reports will make your life easier. And, once you start using FMO, you’ll find you can’t live without it. In addition, these six reports are only a small sample of what FMO’s software suite can do for you.
Jack Lee is CEO of 4Refuel, an onsite fuel management company in Canada.