Fuel program exception reports have been known help fleet managers catch problems with driver misuse of fuel cards. An extreme example took place when one company caught one of its drivers actually selling fuel to strangers at a gas station by using his company fuel card and keeping the money for himself. But fleet managers whose fleets are on managed fuel programs say that exception reports have helped them catch card misuse, which meant cost savings for their companies. For fleet managers who are not yet on a fuel management program, exception reports and their capability for cutting costs are one of the top traits of a fuel card program that can be used to con-vince senior management to switch the company over to a managed fuel program. Bill Rotz, who oversees just under 1,000 vehicles for Centimark Corp. in Canonsburg, PA, actually used an exception report to catch the driver who was selling fuel with his fuel card. “It was pretty obvious,” Rotz said. “He had two pages of fueling for a single day.” Needless to say, that driver is no longer with the company. Rotz, whose fleet uses a co-branded fuel card with his fleet management company, said that after requesting an exception report for premium fuel usage, Centimark reduced mid-grade and premium fuel usage by 35 percent in 2001.

Exception Reports Help Voicestream Wireless Cut Abuse

Keith Zaring, who oversees about 1,450 vehicles as fleet manager for Voicestream Wireless in Bellevue, WA, said he has reduced incidents of drivers using unleaded premium or unleaded plus when they are supposed to be using regular grade. That actually results in longer-lasting vehicles, he said. “I know that none of my vehicles are spec’ed to use unleaded premium or unleaded plus,” said Zaring, who also uses a co-branded fuel card through his fleet management company. “So being able to catch someone using premium not only saves on fuel costs, but also helps the vehicles mechanically.” Zaring says exception reports have also helped him catch drivers who use their fuel cards for personal use while on vacation. “For example, if I see fuel use in Florida for a vehicle based in the Northeast, then we have an issue,” Zaring said. He can even keep track of driving habits by using the fuel card reports. “I compare the vehicle's miles per gallon over time and look for deviations that may indicate abuse of the card or mechanical issues with the vehicle," Zaring said.

Two Fleets Say Exception Reports Make Their Jobs Easier

Exception reports are phenomenal,” said David Hein, manager, employee benefits/fleet operations for Handleman Co. in Troy, MI. Hein’s fleet recently switched from a fleet management com-pany that had a co-branded fuel card with a fuel management company. Now he is with a different fleet management company and deals directly with the same fuel management company he was dealing with previously. “If you get an exception report that shows you have drivers out there using super unleaded plus and it’s costing your company more than it should, all you have to do is send the driver an e-mail and tell them to quit pumping at the wrong pump,” Hein said. “I also like that we can set our limits. They can’t do more than $20 at one time because you don’t want them buying beer or cigarettes. That all comes out on the exception report. If it says they only bought $10 of gas and the bill came to $23, you find out what the other $13 is for. If it’s for grocery items, they get their hands slapped.” Peg Nicholson, fleet administration manager for Rug Doctor in Fenton, MO, also sets various parameters for the card. Nicholson’s fleet is also on a co-branded card through her fleet management company. “We can set parameters so we know what is reasonable for our fleet, such as how many times they can fuel in one day, how many gallons they can buy in one day, and a dollar limit,” Nicholson said. “If they go outside those parame-ters, then we get exception reports and that alerts us to the possibility of someone using the card improperly. You can also limit what the card can be used for so that it can be fuel only.”

Tell Senior Management: Admin. Costs Can Decrease

Automotive Fleet asked fleet managers what advice they would give to other fleet managers who are trying to sell the idea of a managed fuel program to senior management. Hein said the administra-tive costs for sending expense checks for each fuel purchase are astronomical. “Do you know how much it costs to cut an expense check?” The average cost is $25 when you figure in employee time plus postage,” Hein said. “With a fuel card, it’s all done at the pump. My sales reps are happy because they don’t have to put a gas receipt on an expense report and wait forever to get paid for it.” Hein said fleet managers should tell senior management about the managed fuel program benefit of being able to manage their account over the Internet. “If you want to cancel or order cards, it’s over and done with, and in a couple of days you get the card,” Hein said. Nicholson said fleet managers should tell senior management about the administrative expense saved by centralized billing. "It would be administratively burdensome for a company to key in all fuel receipt information in order to capture the data that we get from the fuel provider's management reports," she said. "To equal what is available from fuel providers, they would have to key in te gas station's name and address, type of fuel purchased, how many gallons, cost per gallon, total amount of sale, date, time, a vehicle ID, and the driver's name. Multiply that by the number of receipts and drivers and it quickly becomes unmanageable. They they would have to crunch all that data into meaningful management reports and distribute this information to those who need it." Zaring said fleet managers should communicate to senior management about the convenience of having just one bill to think about. “One less bill to pay is a huge benefit for me,” he said. “The last fleet I managed had about 11 cards. Keeping track of cards and PINs was a nightmare.” Zaring said his current program allows him to customize the reports he receives. “I can request four-digit PINs, or PINs with fewer or more digits,” he said. “Or, you don’t have to use PINs at all.” He also said, “I haven’t had any complaints from drivers about not being able to find stations that accept the card.” He said one customizing option is to delete the “miscellaneous” code and allow fuel only. “Then the problem is they can’t get car washes, but overall it is a benefit.