- Provide driver training. One trucking company reports a 2% improvement in fuel economy for drivers who completed the course.
- Reinforce fuel economy. Provide constant feedback to drivers by including fuel economy tips in employees' pay envelopes.
- Offer a fuel economy incentive program. Particularly if you already use a global positioning system or some similar type of tracking you can track each driver's use of the vehicle. Or if the same driver drives the vehicle every day you can track his performance and reward him for operating in a fuel-efficient manner.
To set up such a program you first need to track fuel economy to establish a benchmark. Once the benchmark is established you can set a miles-per-gallon goal for each type of vehicle or piece of equipment. Drivers who exceed the target for a three-month period receive a financial bonus. The more they exceed the target, the greater the financial bonus. If more than one person drives in a crew this could also be done on a per-crew basis.
Uncovering the "hidden cost" of fuel — and what to do about it
The price of fuel itself might not even be the most significant part of your vehicle fueling costs. Let's look at it the way one contractor did. The system his company (and many other contractors) uses requires each crew to fuel its vehicle(s) on the way back to the yard each night.
Using an example of an eight-vehicle company, let's assume four employees per truck and 30 minutes a day to fuel each truck. That means two labor hours per truck (four employees x 30 minutes) per day are spent fueling. At an average pay of $12 per hour and assuming a six-day work week, it costs this contractor $144 a week in labor just to fill one vehicle with gas. Multiply that by eight vehicles and that's a labor cost of $1,152 a week just to gas-up the fleet. Multiply that by a 35-week season and you get annual labor costs of $40,320 to fuel the fleet — and that comes right off the bottom line. To look at it another way, divide the $1,152 weekly labor costs by 400 gallons a week of fuel and you can see that labor costs add an additional $2.88 per gallon to the cost of fuel itself.
Some companies, to help reduce this labor cost and to ready their vehicles for the next day's work, have taken to hiring one or more people at night (depending on the size of the fleet) to make sure the fleet is ready to go for the morning crews. This person is responsible for readying each vehicle, filling it with fuel, and checking basic maintenance features such as tire pressure and the integrity of the oil, and for making sure equipment is filled with the necessary materials (sealer, paint, crack sealant) and tools. Then, when the crew arrives in the morning, the equipment is ready for them to get started.
Another option to consider is a fueling service, such as BC Stocking Distributing (www.bcstocking.com) or Albina Automated Fueling (www.albina.com) or Pacific Pride (www.pacificpride.com), which fuels vehicles and provides other related services for a fee, enabling drivers to be on the road sooner.