The Car and Truck Fleet and Leasing Management Magazine

Acosta Reduces Fuel Usage By Tracking Weekend Purchases

March 16, 2004

Jacksonville, Florida-based food broker Acosta permits drivers to use company vehicles on weekends, but doesn’t pay for fuel. Fleet Manager Dave Haviland used exception reports to reduce weekend purchases, saving money. Acosta, a large food marketer based in Jacksonville, Fla., has a fleet consisting of approximately 5,500 vehicles run by Dave Haviland, corporate fleet manager. The company uses Wright Express’ fleet fuel card. “As most fleet managers, I’m always on the prowl for cost savings,” Haviland says. “Naturally, when a fleet manager looks for savings, you go where the big game is. In operating expense, that would be fuel.” Acosta has a company vehicle policy that permits personal use, however doesn’t pay for personal use fuel. “My first thought was to check and see when our drivers were filling up the tank,” he continues. “I looked to the Wright Express people to provide an exception report showing fuel purchases made on Saturdays, Sundays, and Mondays.” But there was a question of how to track this usage; fuel prices have been volatile in the past three years, and Haviland knew that looking at variations in dollars expended could be misleading. “Rather than track dollars, I decided to track gallons purchased per card. This would show pure consumption, and, if necessary, I could make reasonable assumptions as to what, if any, savings could be generated.” The goal would be to strictly enforce the company policy of not paying for fuel consumed during personal use, and Haviland would use the fuel exception report to do it. Haviland began by reminding his drivers in June 2003, of the company’s policy on fuel used during personal use, and that the fleet department would review fuel purchases to determine where the policy was applicable. He then requested that Wright Express provide a history report showing average gallons per card in fuel purchases for the prior two years. He tracked fuel consumption in ensuing months against that average. As the months went by, Haviland tracked gallon totals, and saw a clear trend developing: 7/01 – 81.73 (gallons)
7/02 – 89.18
7/03 – 84.89
8/01 – 92.32
8/02 – 91.98
8/03 – 83.83
9/01 – 79.29
9/02 – 86.24
9/03 – 86.84
10/01 – 90.18
10/02 – 89.94
10/03 – 86.13
The Savings Using a conservative average of $1.30 per gallon purchased, the savings are as follows: 7/03 – 4.79 gallons per card, $6.23 per card, $34,265 total. 8/03 – 8.15 gallons per card, $10.60 per card, $58,300 total 10/03 – 3.81 gallons per card, $4.95 per card, $27,225 total. An estimated $119,790 in savings over four months (with September a wash) averages about $30,000 in monthly savings, or $360,000 per year, simply by tracking fuel purchases and enforcing company fleet policy. Haviland’s experience is a clear, real-world example of how fleet managers can use fuel exception reports to find savings.
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