Building an unrivalled construction business is no easy task, and with the plethora of options out there choosing the right tools for the job can be a time-consuming task – the same applies to fuel cards.
Fuel is always a major expense – it doesn’t matter whether the project is small or big, and profit is often a marginal thing – so choosing the right card and making sure you have the right online tools to monitor spend in an easy convenient way, goes a big way towards decreasing costs and easing your business administration burden.
Fuel cards help you to save money in many ways. Some of them offer a discount on pump prices, and the online systems plus phone apps that go with them, mean less paperwork and in most countries more accurate completion of VAT returns, increasing the odds of refunds or minimizing those monthly payments
Use your fuel cards and the apps that go with them to monitor fuel costs across your fleet. Not only will you have better visibility over both your own and your drivers’ spending, you can also keep track of performance and vehicle efficiency. Fuel efficiency reports can calculate each of your drivers and vehicles’ MPG, so you can identify employees who require additional training. Harsh braking, harsh acceleration, speeding, and idling events are all reported in real time.
Administrative tasks are time and money black holes for most companies. With the centralized reporting system that fuel cards and peripheral systems offer, you don’t have to deal with paper receipts and expense sheets.
The pain of going through reclaiming VAT on fuel expenses can be time-prohibitive to small business owners. However, a fuel card management system can automatically generate an HMRC-compliant invoice and help you claim your expenses back.
Fuel cards come with a PIN code just like bank cards do. With your account management software, you can set top amounts spent and alerts for refuelling outside a given perimeter. Stolen cards can be deactivated immediately and any unusual transactions can be detected in real time.
If you are a sole trader, a local building contractor or owner/manager of a small construction firm with few employees don’t think that fuel cards are not for you. Small companies and sole traders are perfectly eligible to apply for fuel cards. In fact, they’ll greatly benefit from it. Operating at the construction sites, coordinating suppliers, communicating with your clients – all these tasks take up most of your time, so streamlining your fuel expenses and cutting down the paperwork is just as crucial in the small construction business as it is in a large business with a big fleet.
Having a low company credit score or no credit history sometimes limits a new business’ ability to receive a fuel card. You shouldn’t let this put you off from applying. Simply applying won’t affect one’s score, and most providers have in-house approval procedures and will process applications as quickly as possible.
With so many different fuel cards available picking one might seem like a daunting task. It is easier than it looks, but you need to know what to look for. Here are some things to consider before picking a fuel card.
With a pump price card, you pay a regular or discounted price for fuel. You get a streamlined process of filling up and managing receipts, along with broad national network coverage. If you choose a fixed price fuel card, you pay the wholesale price for fuel for the current week. You get the weekly prices in advance and your rate doesn’t change, no matter how much the retail rates fluctuate throughout the week.
You can choose to link your fuel cards to a driver or a vehicle or both, to better monitor inefficiency within your fleet. If you assign a card to a vehicle, you can get more information on its real MPG, keep track of miles driven and cost per mile, and set maintenance schedules based on the actual vehicle utilization. Fuel cards assigned to the individual drivers give you a more detailed overview of their performance and driving habits.
Another factor to consider when deciding which fuel card works best for you is which one offers the best coverage along your business routes. Ask yourself how far do your builders usually have to drive to the construction sites. Do they have to go out of their way to fill up? Do you need to use HGV friendly fueling stations? Route deviation costs add up quickly, so make sure you plan the refuelling along your itinerary with the e-route station finder that comes with your fuel card management account.