In a 2007 study, it was found that 37-percent of fleets with 50-99 vehicles prefer an oil company card, while 16 percent chose a bank fuel card. The most popular choice among this fleet segment was a universal fleet card, at 47 percent. First Things First: Assess Your Fleet and Fuel Needs
Formulate a list of questions that pertain to your fleet:
Reviewing these simple questions will help facilitate the decision-making process. Research All Available Fuel Management Programs
Once you’ve assessed your fleet’s requirements, it’s time to select a program from a long list of fuel management suppliers. Fuel companies and major credit card companies all have programs to manage fuel purchases. Some companies specialize only in fleet fuel management. Read through the companies’ Web sites for insight of what their programs offer. If some materials aren’t clear, listed on the site should be a phone number to contact a company representative to answer any questions. It is best to write all your questions down before you call, to ensure all your concerns will be addressed. Choosing Your Convenience
The next step is to determine how you would like to pursue selection of a fuel card. Buy it online or through a sales representative? Mark Lavin, senior vice president of FleetCor Technologies, says having a sales representative can provide more insight. “If you choose to go it alone, an alternate self-service sales channel may be just fine, such as business reply or a phone call to a toll-free phone number.” When it comes to fuel card accessibility, keep in mind that in the market today, there is no such universal acceptance, said Lavin. This introduces areas of card coverage:
A limited network generally avails the fleet customer to better economics and oftentimes brings better front-end controls or hard controls as it is likely a closed or proprietary network. Customer Services Vary
When it comes to fleet needs, a variety of services are available. Bob Cavalli, vice president sales Northeast, U.S. Bank Voyager Fleet Systems Inc., highlights the different types:
In a 2007 study of fleets with 100-499 vehicles, 14 percent prefer an oil company card, while 19 percent prefer using a bank fleet card. The majority rules at 67 percent for a universal fuel card.
A 2007 study shows that fleets with 500-999 vehicles prefer a universal fuel card by 88 percent, while only 12 percent chose an oil company card. Hard Controls Versus Soft Controls
When it comes to card usage control, a system must be implemented. Lavin explains the type of controls. Hard controls enforce policy, allowing fleet managers to stop unauthorized fuel purchases. Hard controls may include purchase restrictions on:
A fuel program’s account management tool is both essential and beneficial. You can manage your account on the phone or online. More common is online account management. This feature allows review of your account and to make changes. Whether it’s ordering, replacing, or canceling cards, you have access to your account with just a few keystrokes. Also, you can communicate with a card provider to review statements and bills. A few points to consider when dealing with online account management, according to Lavin:
Along with account management comes another program that some providers offer — data mining. Cavalli says it is a featured program that providers offer to help fleet managers track reports, savings, fraud, violations, policy, data, etc. Structuring Prices
Lavin explains that there are two pricing structures and they are:
In a 2007 study of fleets with 1,000-plus vehicles, 82 percent prefer a bank fleet card, while the universal fuel and oil company cards remain tied at 9 percent. Trusting Your Instincts
Bottom line is that you want to have trust in the provider and be confident of the choice you made. Also, that the card is easy to use and accessible..