Small business owners are expected to be good at everything. Not only must a small business owner know the ins and outs of a particular trade, they also must be accountants, talent scouts, HR managers, and more. If your business has any number of vehicles, you can add “fleet manager” to the list. And as the manager of your fleet, you should know that there’s a better way to purchase fuel than cash or the same usual company credit card.
Seasoned small business owners know to track fuel expenses with a fleet fuel card. They gain access to a host of incentives, from savings to powerful analytics and data. With so many incentives and fuel brands to choose from, the landscape of options can be overwhelming. Here are four simple questions you can ask to narrow down the selection and find the fleet card that will work best for you.
1. What gas stations do I need to use?
The first question is a simple matter of geography. Where will your company vehicles be when it’s time to refuel? Many fleet cards allow you to fuel anywhere, but offer savings on the gallon at a certain fuel brand. For example, the Sunoco Universal Fleet Card can be used anywhere but allows you to save up to 6¢ per gallon at over 5,000 Sunoco stations. (If your business is able to consolidate its fueling at Sunoco, you can maximize your savings.)
2. How much do I spend on fuel?
Knowing how much you spend on fuel will help you find out how much you stand to save with a fleet card. While fuel rebates aren’t the only way to save with a fleet card, the savings can be impactful. Follow these steps to calculate your estimated monthly fuel spend:
- Take your number of business vehicles
- Multiply by the number of fill-ups per month per vehicle
- Multiply by the average number of gallons per fill-up
- Multiply by the cost of fuel per gallon
Once you have an estimate for your monthly fuel spend, review your fuel expenses for the last year. Does your fuel spend increase at certain times of the year? Are there times when cash flow is tight due to fuel spend? How does fuel spend stack up against the other expenses in your business? Simply looking at this information all in one place will lead to insights about what your business needs in a fleet card. It will also allow you to calculate potential savings with greater accuracy.
3. How do the savings work?
Now that you know where you need to fuel and how much you spend, you can start to look at what individual fleet cards can do for you. Below are different ways that fleet cards can drive savings for small businesses.
Automatic Fuel Expense Tracking
The right fleet card automatically collects important transaction data like fuel type, sales tax, and more. That means you don’t have to track down receipts or enter this data manually.
Purchase Controls and Security
Unlike standard credit cards or consumer fuel cards, fleet fuel cards allow you to create purchase restrictions. Limit employee spending by product type, dollar amount, time of day, and more. With a Sunoco fleet card, a driver identification number is tied to every transaction. This allows for even closer monitoring of driver spending habits.
Analytics and Reporting
Analytics and reporting tools can drive savings with the power of information. Useful analytic tools make it easy to access and understand the most important information. For example, an exception report helps to zero-in on misuse.
4. How much time will it take to manage the card?
Time is your most valuable resource. A fleet fuel card is designed to save you money when your employees fill up, but also to streamline your back-office accounting and overall fuel management process. A fleet fuel card gives you the control, flexibility, fraud protection, and simplicity that you won’t get with a basic credit card (personal or business) — and a fleet card is safer than cash. It pays to understand the value, benefits and features of a fleet fuel card before you apply for one.
It also pays to know what will happen if and when something goes wrong. Test a fleet card’s customer service department with a phone call before you sign up for the card. For example, Sunoco fleet cards are backed by an experienced customer service team that’s available 24/7 — a team based right here in the U.S.
Once you’re comfortable with the benefits that a fleet fuel card has to offer, you’ll be more than ready to choose the right card for your small business.