Fleet managers can be certain of one thing: fuel price volatility. Fuel prices have been on a roller coaster that continues to climb with increasing volatility into the foreseeable future.
Diesel fuel prices rose 5.8 cents to $4.034 a gallon — its first gain in six weeks — while gas prices rose for the first time in seven weeks. Gas prices rose 0.8 cent to $3.437 a gallon. The price had plunged 42.1 cents in the prior six weeks. The diesel fuel price decline leaves trucking’s main fleet fuel 7 cents over the same week a year ago, while gas prices are 13 cents higher than the same week last year. With all of the crazy ups and downs with diesel fuel prices and gas prices, they are basically within 15% of last year.
We all know that preparing for winter prep for diesel fuel should happen long before now but for some who have put it off, there is still hope.
- Using wrong fuel card– Fleet fuel cards are designed obviously for fleets. If your fleet manager is using a credit card, direct bill, or some other form of payment, they could be forfeiting savings.
- Delegation– Fleet managers wear a lot of different hats. Typically hard working employees who don’t always admit to their overwhelming job, but it’s their job to push some responsibilities to other co-workers. Communication is key to running a successful fleet.
- Multiple vendors- Are you in bed with just one vendor? As bad as it sounds get in bed with a few! Of course consolidation is always good, but you don’t want to rely on just one provider. All it takes is something to go bad and you could be in high water.
- Supervising- Those different hats we discussed above, well we weren’t kidding. Fuel, drivers, maintenance, units, CSA, etc. These are all things the fleet manager has to be aware of. He might not handle every one of them directly, but he needs to be aware of the latest details otherwise he could fall out of the loop.
- Break- Nobody can work 168 hours a week; it’s not physically possible. Ensure that you have time away from the job to recharge your battery. Otherwise your work time will become less productive and more strenuous.
- Team meetings- Whether your business is small or large; an unhappy worker is an unproductive worker. Work with your drivers to solve any internal issues that could be causing disgruntled employees. Meetings at least once a month can help identify and work out any problems.
- Pleasing everyone- It’s quite difficult to make everyone happy as you probably know from experiences in life. The same goes for fleet managers and their coworkers. You are the leader of the pack, and your decisions aren’t always going to be favorable to the entire crew. Keep that in mind, but also keep in mind what’s best for the group.
- Don’t lose the big picture- It’s easy to hone in on your industry, but by doing this you may be overlooking important details. Things happening across the country and world will affect your industry directly and indirectly. Try to broaden your horizon.
- Show your work- Reminds me of being in math class. If you didn’t show your work of how you solved the problem, then how does the teacher know you understood the outcome and didn’t possibly cheat? Well this isn’t necessarily cheating in this case, but you need to show your successes and the effort you put into your job to the “higher ups”.
- Be creative– Creative solutions are key to running your fleet. Adapting to change is a part of the job. Just think about all of the changes since you first entered the field. If you’re not thinking outside the box, you’ll be left behind while the rest of the industry moves forward.
10 Mistakes Fleet Managers Make (2011). Retrieved November 13, 2012, from http://www.fleetcardusa.com/FleetFacts/mistakes_managers.aspx
Diesel dipped 0.4 cent to $3.976 a gallon, its fifth straight decline, while gasoline fell 2 cents in its sixth straight downturn. Gasoline slipped to $3.429 a gallon. The diesel decline leaves trucking’s main fuel 3.4 cents under the same week a year ago, while gasoline is 6.1 cents higher than last year. Diesel has declined 17.4 in the past five weeks from its $4.15 per-gallon average on Oct. 15, the highest price in more than four years. Last week was the first time diesel fell below $4 in three months. Gasoline has plunged more than 42 cents in its six recent drops and is almost 45 cents below its $3.878 price in mid-September.
Supply disruptions from Hurricane Sandy and the Nor’easter continue to cause supply problems along the East Coast. After the Northeast literally ran dry, the Southeast is now experiencing shortages as well. The tight supply is mainly due to the movement of product to resupply the hurricane affected areas in the Northeast, with long hauls and bulk shipments pulling product out of the Southeast over the last few days. Accordingly, terminals have reduced rack allocations in some markets in order to fulfill contract obligations. To put it into perspective, a normal carrier that makes an average of 6 deliveries in one day is currently making an average of 1 to 2 deliveries, experiencing long lines at terminals and having to drive longer than usual distances to make deliveries. As a result, logistics continue to be the name of the game in the tight markets, with multiple loads being shifted around to keep customers supplied.
Oil prices fell yesterday as the U.S. Department of Energy reported an increase in crude inventories and a drop in gasoline and distillates for the week ending November 9th. Following the week of Hurricane Sandy, the report reflected crude inventories remain heavy, while distillate inventories remain low in comparison to the previous year. December crude futures fell by 87 cents and settled at $85.45, while heating oil fell $.0147 to $2.9735 and RBOB fell by $.0172 to $2.6962. Additionally, consumer prices increased for the month of October, while U.S. jobless claims surged for the week ending November 10th.
The price of diesel fuel in the United States declined for the third straight week, dipping 2 cents to $4.01 per gallon, the lowest level in almost three months. Meanwhile, increased demand for gasoline for vehicles and to fuel generators brought long lines to filling stations in the ravaged portions of New Jersey and New York City as residents struggle to recover from Hurricane Sandy in the prior week. But diesel lines were short, trucking industry leaders said. Diesel’s price decrease followed an 8.6-cent drop the week before. Diesel is now at its lowest price since the $3.965-a-gallon average price on Aug. 13. Diesel has fallen in five of the past seven weeks. The average gasoline price fell 7.6 cents, to $3.492 a gallon, after an 11.9-cent drop the previous week. It was the fourth straight decline for gas, which has fallen in six of the past seven weeks.
Do you know if your company needs a fleet fuel card?