Fuel cards and telematics systems are an excellent cost-saving device for small businesses. If you are a small business operator and are operating your own vehicles for commercial use, you should consider using the best fuel cards for small business by your side and have it working for you.
Sometimes referred to as ‘fleet cards’, fuel cards for small business remove a whole load of the hassle out of the day-to-day running of your fleet and can save your business lots of money. In addition, modern telematics systems can help you save even more money through their correct deployment and use.
In this article, we are going to take a look at what telematics systems fuel cards for small business are, how they work, and how they can save you time, money, and more.
Whilst telematics and fuel cards can be used together, they are two very different solutions. Both, however, should be used by any company that is operating a fleet of vehicles, whether that fleet consists of one vehicle or 100.
Whether you are the operator of a small company or a larger one that operates nationwide (or even internationally!), fleet management can begin to eat up a considerable amount of not only your time but your annual budget, too.
A fuel card can help alleviate some of these time and monetary sinks, freeing up capital and helping make daily operations more efficient.
Fuel cards for small businesses are used as a means of payment for petrol, diesel, and other fuel-related purchases at petrol stations. They are quick and easy to use, utilising the same chip and pin technology and method of use as a regular credit or debit card.
Small business fuel cards allow you or your drivers to pay for fuel in a fast, efficient, and secure way. You are also able to monitor and manage all your fuel-related expenses from one account and are billed periodically (e.g. weekly or monthly) with a single invoice that includes a single monetary figure for all fuel drawn plus VAT.
This simplifies fuel-related accounting, negates the need for your employees to keep receipts and/or expenses.
In addition to these and the other standard benefits provided by fuel cards (more on this below), customers often take advantage of other features. These include regular reporting and notifications for abnormal use, fraud protection, account management services, payment type restriction, insurance, accident management, breakdown cover, and more.
Telematics systems, sometimes called ‘driver management tools’, can be installed into any fleet vehicle. They provide fleet managers with a top-down view of their drivers’ activities and holds them to account for their actions.
Telematics work by tracking fleet vehicles in real-time, allowing for instantaneous pinpointing and identifying of problem drivers and their bad habits. This allows for swift action to be taken, leading to minor discrepancies and problems being resolved before they manifest into something more serious.
When used in conjunction with fuel cards for small business, a good telematics system may save you a lot of money. It also collects and records data such as harsh acceleration, harsh braking, average speed, gear usage, excess idling, and steering, amongst other things. These are all examples of driving that is inefficient and wastes fuel. Over time, this translates simply into lost capital.
As they are used more and more within your fleet, these systems paint a picture of your it and where it could be losing your business its money.
These are some of the ways that the use of telematics systems and fuel cards for small business can save your business a little extra capital.
Generally speaking, there are two types of fuel card—fixed price cards and pump price cards.
Fixed price cards help to save your business money through certainty. Each week, usually on a Friday, customers are sent an email that includes fuel pricing for the next week. For that entire week coming, the price of fuel remains the same and does not change with market fluctuations*.
The savings here can be made in two ways. First, you are not affected by increases in prices for that week. Second, you are able to plan ahead and procure fuel in bulk for your entire fleet if prices one week are due to be particularly lower than normal.
*This price fix only applies at the service stations where your fixed price fuel card is accepted.
As for pump priced fuel cards, your drivers pay the price they see at the pump. However, these fuel cards usually come with some form of a discount on displayed pricing, discount for bulk fuel purchases, or some other form of incentive.
Either way, your business saves money.
As any business manager will know, admin eats up time. A lot of it. Fleet admin can be a major admin nightmare, and fuel procurement only adds to this.
When your drivers use their own payment method or a company payment method to pay for fuel, this adds to the admin workload. Your drivers need to keep their receipts which you then need to use for bookkeeping. This can take hours. It’s an even more dire situation when your drivers are using their own money and claiming back expenses.
With a fuel card for small business, these problems simply don’t exist. All purchases made are captured and used to calculate a periodic invoice. This invoice is HMRC-friendly and contains two figures: fuel spend plus VAT.
This frees up a lot of time and makes fleet admin that little bit easier.
Telematics paint you an honest picture of the state of your fleet and how it is handled by your drivers.
Bad driving and bad habits cause a lot of problems with fleet vehicles and businesses. Not only does using the wrong gears, harsh acceleration, speeding, and other such discrepancies cause a lower level of fuel efficiency (and thus higher fuel costs), but they can also wear the vehicle down. This means that your fleet vehicles are more likely to spend extra time off the road and in maintenance garages than they need to.
When your fleet vehicle is off the road, it is likely to not only be costing you money directly through maintenance costs but also potentially through lost trade. A vehicle that is off the road cannot make deliveries, for example, nor can it be used for any other business purpose.
Vehicles that are driven properly according to proper driving standards last a lot longer and are less likely to be involved in bumps, scrapes, and accidents than vehicles that are driven improperly and carelessly.
When your drivers are taking care of your fleet vehicles and know exactly where their closest fuel station is, your fleet vehicles spend more time on the road earning you money. It also means that your business is able to provide a better level of service and a more competitive price as you begin to see the savings made as a result of telematics and fuel cards for small business.
Of course, your drivers’ choice of fuel station will depend on the fuel card they are using, and at which stations it is accepted. This is why it is important to think carefully about what your business needs are, and which fuel card will serve these the most.
Your drivers can also use the iCompario fuel station finder to locate their closest fuel card-friendly service station.
There are lots of different options for telematics systems and fuel cards for small business. It is very important that you shop around for the products that will work best for you. Fuel cards and telematics systems differ between providers and the fuel card offered by Provider A may not be as suitable for your business as the fuel card offered by Provider B.
Using iCompario, comparing fuel cards and telematics systems couldn’t be easier. Simply visit the website and select two or more different brands to begin your comparison and narrow down your options.