Time and time again, fuel card fraud and slippage remain a significant pain point for fleet owners. Industry figures estimate 5-10% of a fleet’s annual cost goes to theft or misallocation, and Booster’s internal surveys with customers place fuel card fraud at a minimum of 3% of costs.
Fleet owners and operators know the issue well; fleet drivers adding a snack to their fuel purchase or filling their personal vehicle on the company fuel card is nothing new. But for enterprise fleets with hundreds, or even thousands, of drivers, these expenses add up over time.
Though the relatively small additions to cost at each instance of fuel card fraud may seem innocuous, treating them that way would be a mistake, as fleets see about 5 gallons of attempted fuel fraud per vehicle monthly, according to Fleetcor. For a fleet of 20, that’s 1,200 gallons annually. And with gas prices hitting record levels across the nation, fleet owners and operators are likely to see a correlated rise in fuel card misuse, and in the related costs they incur from it.
To help mitigate fuel fraud and slippage, fleet managers have historically turned toward a range of approaches including implementing fuel limits, tracking purchases manually, and highlighting consequences. While these can be decent stopgap solutions, they are often time-consuming and insufficient, failing to recognize that many fleets lack the administrative resources and budget to effectively track and manage the mountain of incoming fuel card purchases.
In a time when fleet managers are inundated with more difficult choices than ever — between fossil or alternative fuels, how to keep pay competitive amid a national driver shortage, whether or not to bet on electrification — fuel fraud and slippage can feel like just another issue on the pile.
Instead, fleet managers without the significant resources required to track and mitigate fraud associated with fuel card use — or who simply want to avoid the headache by investing in a more effective, efficient solution — should consider outsourcing their fueling errands to a mobile fuel delivery service. Not only does this solution eliminate the potential for fuel card fraud, it offers data integration capabilities that offer visibility into fleet fueling habits, providing the actionable insights needed to keep fleet fueling costs under control.
Outsourcing the Errand
As the pandemic accelerated the rise of our modern “on-demand” culture, which delivers everything from ride shares to food and drink to next-day Amazon products right to your front door, mobile fueling has risen in the wake of other successful delivery services like Uber, InstaCart, Doordash and more — a phenomenon referred to by anyone from tech bros to Cornell University as the “Uberification” of everything. And while the general public has long delighted in the myriad benefits and convenience offered by this cultural development, the fleet sector may just be finding its own take on the delivery of everything: mobile fueling on demand.
Like other convenience delivery frameworks, mobile fueling on demand offers fleets the opportunity to order fuel via a phone call, app, or website. The fuel is then delivered on site to the fleet yard during non-operating hours. The service omits the need for individual drivers to go to the gas station, or interact with fuel purchases at all, eliminating any potential for fuel fraud by drivers with their own fuel cards.
Instead, fleet managers can easily order, monitor and quantify all fuel ordered for each vehicle in the fleet with the click of the button. In many cases, the service saves fleets money overall, not only by squashing fuel fraud but also by quelling non-productive hours usually spent at gas stations — estimated by Booster® to total $748 in labor costs per fleet vehicle annually. And although many fleet managers may be hesitant to forgo the discounts and incentives on fuel pricing offered by fuel card programs, they may not have to; Mobile fueling can be integrated into existing programs. Booster, for example, partners with three major fuel card providers to integrate existing incentives into mobile fueling price models.
Boosting Insight, Providing Clarity
The other part of a successful, modern approach to vanquishing fuel fraud relies on visibility. Part of what makes the fuel fraud issue so difficult to address is that fleet managers often don’t know what they don’t know; in a fuel-card-based system, the volume of transactions is so high that sifting through and identifying misuse is often akin to finding a needle in a haystack. Luckily, detailed data analytics can provide the insight necessary, especially if mobile fueling is used to aggregate transactions. With the advanced telematics devices now on the market, fleet managers can gain crucial visibility into fuel consumption.
But the information gathered by telematics devices is only useful if fleet managers have a way to interpret it, and if they can judge it against easily accessible data on fuel spend, budget, and projected consumption. Mobile fueling often offers that piece of the puzzle, thanks to the combination of advanced fueling technology and integrated data dashboards in the user-interface.
Booster’s digital interface offers an example, as it provides critical information around gallons pumped, amount spent and more. The dashboard can then integrate these insights with those from major telematics providers like Geotab, Samsara, and Verizon to offer real-time glimpses into a fleet’s fuel habits.
Armed with this advanced insight, fleet managers can easily track and manage fuel spend and consumption without advanced know how or extraneous administrative resources.
The Future of Responsible Fueling
As the energy transition continues to progress, fleets face a multiplying range of challenges both new and old, and navigating them is becoming increasingly difficult. But with mobile fueling and organized telematics data, fleet managers can take the fuel fraud variable out of the equation, trusting that their fuel budget will be well spent. In a field where the decisions, responsibilities and future-facing bets seem to be multiplying quickly, jumping on the “Uberification” bandwagon might just be the break fleet managers need.
Joe Molesky is Vice President of Operations at Booster. As a proven operations leader with over 15 years of progressive leadership experience in both manufacturing and field operations, Molesky brings in-depth expertise to Booster, helping us to scale globally. He is passionate about driving customer value and profitable growth through operations excellence. Before joining Booster, Molesky worked at Tennant in a field service leadership role, and drove continuous improvement, strategy development and operations planning at various companies in mining, manufacturing and field services.