Daniel Kehrer, editor of Business.com and Work.com, has compiled a list of options aimed at helping small business owners deal with rising fuel costs:
1. Add a separate fuel fee. You can call it a fee or a surcharge or whatever. Customers won't like it, but most will understand your predicament.
2. Restructure your pricing or territories. Consider restricting the areas your business serves, or charging more to go out of a certain area. Some businesses are raising minimum charges or putting tiered pricing in place.
3. Use an outside shipper. It may be cheaper to use UPS or the postal services for small supply orders that you previously delivered yourself. Shipping services Web sites such as RedRoller.com can help you find the lowest-cost carrier.
4. Leverage the Web. Encourage customers to buy online and by mail order, and use Web-based sites to "meet" with clients, freelancers, partners and others rather than meeting in person. Check out the options on Zoho.com, Basecamphq.com and WebEx.com.
5. Consider buying hybrids or lighter-weight vehicles. There are now more models suitable for small-business needs. Compare models at FuelEconomy.gov.
6. Charge customers by the mile, if that makes sense for your particular business or industry.
7. Drive less. Ask your suppliers to deliver items that you used to pick up yourself. Use online map-routing services like MapQuest to better plan delivery routes. Group jobs together to curb travel.
8. Get gas purchase rebates. Take the time to learn what the different fuel cards and credit cards offer. Check CreditCardGuide.com and PumpandSave.com.
9. Find the station with the best price using GasBuddy.com and GasPriceWatch.com.
10. Follow fuel-saving driving tips.