As fuel prices remain high, one company has found a way to reduce fuel costs and grow its business at the same time. The results have been significant. Safelite Group - an auto glass service provider, third-party administrator of insurance auto glass programs, and a leading fabricator of aftermarket windshields - launched a corporate initiative in 2005 that sought to reduce fuel consumption. The program, called “Turn it Off - Idling Gets You Nowhere,” was created for Safelite’s more than 2,500 vehicles used by two subsidiaries - Safelite AutoGlass and Service AutoGlass. As part of the program, the Columbus, Ohio-based company asked employees who drive company vehicles to re-evaluate their operating habits, routine maintenance practices, routing efficiencies, and fuel purchases.

During the first six months of the program, Safelite Group used 295,000 fewer gallons of gasoline than the same time period the previous year, representing a 6-percent decrease in fuel consumption during a time of increased business volume. Improving Vehicle Gas Mileage Key to Corporate Initiative
The primary goal of “Turn it Off” is improving gas mileage in company vehicles, which travel more than 60 million miles a year. Since the program’s launch, Safelite Group has increased gas mileage by an average of nearly four miles per gallon.

“It’s essential that we work toward improving the miles per gallon used by our fleet,” said Bob Mossing, Safelite Group’s fleet supervisor and leader of the “Turn It Off” program. “Expenses saved in reduced fuel consumption will contribute to our overall financial success and allow us to continue to offer competitive pricing.” The “Turn It Off” theme was chosen to remind employees to turn off their vehicles between trips. Prior to 2001, Safelite AutoGlass technicians were required to keep their vehicle engines running to maintain a supply of urethane, an important component in the windshield installation process, at the proper temperature. Today, Safelite AutoGlass vehicles are equipped to keep the urethane at the necessary temperature and operate electrical equipment without the engine idling. By 2004, 85 percent of the Safelite AutoGlass fleet had this capability. “Our goal has been to encourage our employees to switch gears - to turn around the culture of leaving the vehicle running,” said Mossing. Reducing fuel consumption has additional advantages, including environmental and vehicle maintenance benefits, according to Mossing. “Being mindful of when the vehicle is idling and overall fuel consumption gives employees a chance to have a direct impact on fuel usage and expenses, not to mention that they can be environmentally conscious in the communities in which they work and live,” he said.

He adds that the corporate initiative has already led to less wear and tear on vehicles, which will most likely extend the duration of time required between routine maintenance.