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granitekitchen Focus On... Fuel cards

Date: 26 March 2015   |   Author:

In the first of a new series of 'Focus On.' pieces where granitekitchen talks to leading players in the service supplier arena, we speak to fuel card suppliers that offer an alternative to Allstar following its decision to charge a fee for every transaction. Paul Barker reports

BP

James Fields-Davis, fuel cards marketing manager

What is the biggest issue in the sector right now?

We have seen a significant reaction to the introduction of transaction fees introduced by some fuel card providers in our sector. We are seeing organisations being charged as much as £2 in transaction fees every time they fill up. As a result, companies are likely to be paying thousands of pounds extra a year in network charges alone.

This could present additional headaches for businesses as those responsible for fleet administration would probably have to find the time to monitor more closely the fill-up behaviour of drivers to ensure they are not paying transaction fees against low top-up values.  

How will the sector have progressed in three years' time?

We are likely to see a greater demand for convenience. We will continue to see cost and time pressures mounting, therefore convenience is key. Fleets will require convenient ways to record, monitor and control what is happening with their vehicles and drivers. Customers really appreciate tools to reduce administration time and ultimately help control their costs.

Security tools such as alerts on fuel purchasing or innovative GPS mileage-capture applications remove some of the mundane burdensome tasks often associated with fleet admin and ensure their businesses keep moving.

What is the biggest mistake fleets make?

Fuel is one of the biggest cost elements in the fleet budget, generally ranking second to depreciation, or the lease rentals. Too often we see organisations not understanding their business requirements fully and as a result sign up with a provider based on one area of an offer.

Businesses need to ensure they take a well-balanced look at the overall fuel card offer and evaluate all components to it including network, price, security, etc., then match this to their business requirements. Another big mistake is that companies often feel there are barriers in switching suppliers and as a result remain with a fuel card offer that is suboptimal.  

What one piece of advice would you give a fleet operator?

Linked to above, once key business requirements are established then ensure you understand the overall offer and that it supports those requirements. Looking at network and price is key, but also look at other areas like additional fees, security, driver amenities, value-added services, and customer service capabilities.  

Sum up your past 12 months in 24 words or less

We've worked hard to ensure we provide customers with competitive pricing, an extensive network, enhanced security, and access to fleet administration and management information

Preview your next 12 months in 24 words or less

We will be continuing to drive convenience for our customers - both those responsible for fleets and those who visit our forecourts.

The Fuel Card Group

Steve Clarke, group marketing manager

What is the biggest issue in the sector?

Fleet managers are increasingly looking at per-vehicle whole-life costs. It is not just about acquisition and retained value at disposal, but includes everything else between those points. From fuel to insurance to repairs, the analysis has to be comprehensive to be worthwhile. Being able to make better-informed vehicle choices, with better-armed negotiations, makes a significant difference to fleet ROI.

How will the sector have progressed in three years' time?

Fewer drivers will still carry plastic fuel cards, as these are made obsolete by smartphone apps. Much more fleet management information will be delivered online and accessed away from the office. The increasingly sophisticated technology will make it easier for fleet managers to exploit greater amounts of more accurate information.

What is the biggest mistake fleets make?

Not shopping around and asking the right questions.

What one piece of advice would you give a fleet operator?

Find the best fuel card product for your needs, not the one that most suits your supplier.

Sum up your past 12 months in 24 words or less

Another year of outstanding organic growth, mostly the result of customers switching from competitors.

Preview your next 12 months in 24 words or less

Continuing strong organic growth. As a Crown Commercial Service supplier, we see great potential in the public sector, where fleet managers are increasingly cost-conscious.

Barclaycard-TMC

John Bostock, account development director, Barclaycard; Paul Jackson, managing director, TMC.

What is the biggest issue in the sector?

JB: A gradual market shift towards charging based on transactions when customers are using fuel cards, which has become a huge cost to businesses. It's a trend we've been challenging with the launch of Barclaycard Fuel+ by giving employers complete visibility of their organisation's fuel purchases and business journeys.

How will the sector have progressed in three years' time?

JB: Changes to retail point-of-sale systems, the wider use of smartphones and greater adoption of telematics will transform the payment markets, making more data available to fleet managers to understand their costs and how to reduce them.

PJ: Fuel cost, fuel consumption and tracking drivers' mileage and driving behaviours will combine to give a much richer view of where savings can be made. From a compliance perspective, increased use of detailed data about driver behaviours and fuel use will mean there is more information available to analyse overall corporate mobility - and, again, to reduce its cost.

What is the biggest mistake fleets make?

PJ: Not having great enough visibility of who is making business trips, and what the purpose of these trips are.

What one piece of advice would you give a fleet operator?

JB: Use the technology that is now available - and cost-effective - to enable you to get detailed information about the business trips that colleagues are making.

Sum up your past 12 months in 24 words or less

PJ: Busy! We have changed the UK fuel card market for good - both permanently and for the better.
Preview your next 12 months in 24 words or less

JB: Even busier! The market's changing rapidly and helping clients navigate this is one area we'll focus on.

Valero

Karen Goane, card manager

What is the biggest issue in your sector?  

Remaining competitive and having a strong network are essential in what is a highly competitive sector.

How will the sector have progressed in three years' time?

I would anticipate that mobile phone payments will start to replace plastic fuel cards, which should increase security. As telematics begins to be available, this will be a big change for fleet operators.

What is the biggest mistake fleets make?

Probably choosing a fuel card supplier based solely on price or network coverage. There are other ways to increase cost savings, and with more cross-acceptance deals in place, Texaco's Fastfuel and The Business fuel cards [Valero owns Texaco] can compete with all the major fuel card brands.

What one piece of advice would you give a fleet operator?

Look at the complete fuel card offer and select one that helps reduce costs, tracks CO2 emissions and gives full fleet management reporting.

Sum up your past 12 months in 24 words or less

The strengthening of the Texaco network has delivered one of the best years in fuel card sales for Valero.

Preview your next 12 months in 24 words or less  

We will continue to grow our fuel card volume and offer the next generation of fuel card technology to our customers

Fleetone

Jakes de Kock, group marketing director

What is the biggest issue in the sector?

Fuel cards don't address accurate reporting around mileage and driver behaviour. While this can be calculated, it still requires human input. At a time when everyone expects information to be available at the click of a button, this isn't acceptable. It also opens up the whole process to human error, which fuel cards and technology are expected to reduce.

How will the sector have progressed in three years' time?

In response to the above, the sector will have to look at integration with other fleet data-capture tools and software. On their own, fuel cards aren't offering the complete control customers expect or ask for. Full integration will become an absolute necessity and fuel card providers that don't realise this or act upon it will quickly fall behind.

What is the biggest mistake fleets make?

Despite the amount of data and information available, fleet managers can sometimes fail to use it to their advantage and to inform sensible, efficient company car policies. However, it can be extremely difficult to consolidate the data when you have three or four separate suppliers for different aspects of your fleet. Some fleets have a separate fuel card provider, separate telematics company, separate vehicle maintenance planning provider, and so on. If all these companies are reporting in different formats, at different times, it becomes almost impossible to analyse the information and separate it for any meaningful action or policy.

The easy solution is find a provider that offers a holistic solution giving you all the information you need for maximum control and efficiency. And, importantly, the provider needs to be able to present this information in an easy-to-understand, customisable format that works for you and your needs.

What one piece of advice would you give a fleet operator?

Look at fleet costs as a whole, rather than just fuel expenditure. Often, other expenses such as vehicle maintenance, toll charges and hotels are under the management of HR or finance, rather than the fleet manager who is given charge of fuel spend. By bringing the whole of fleet costs under the management of just one department, inefficiencies become easier to identify and address. Our Velos corporate charge card allows drivers to use it for a variety of business expenses, but still provides fleet managers just one consolidated invoice.

Sum up your past 12 months in 24 words or less

It's been spent looking at existing technology and how we can use it, plus developing products to better serve the different segments of the fleet market.

Preview your next 12 months in 24 words or less

. We're now launching those products and technological advancements - watch this space.

FuelGenie

Claire Alderson, sales and marketing manager

What is the biggest issue in the sector right now?

Gaining access to more data and advising companies how best to use these statistics to benefit their business. There is still a wide misconception on monitoring driver behaviour and fleet operations more closely as 'big brother'-type activity. However, through the use of a fuel card, compiling the right data for business customers will enable them to monitor vehicle performance and fulfil their commitment of duty of care to their drivers.

How will the sector have progressed in three years time?

The development of telematics systems in company vehicles to cover a range of functions, not just fuel management, will help businesses to develop by streamlining costs and increasing efficiency. As more and more businesses understand and utilise telematics, fleet management will become more effective and easier. By monitoring vehicle performance, mileage and consumption, businesses will be able to modernise company practices to increase efficiency, as well as provide a better duty of care to drivers through improved upkeep of vehicles and immediate accident reporting.

What is the biggest mistake fleets make?

Smaller fleets can often mistake fuel cards as something only larger companies can benefit from; however, even a business with just one company vehicle can benefit from a fuel card.

What one piece of advice would you give a fleet operator?

Don't assume a fuel card service that offers a large petrol filling network is right for each individual business within the group. One size does not always fit all, with hidden surcharges and fees impacting on the monthly invoice. Businesses could work better by taking more control of their own fuel expenses and advising drivers to fill up locally rather than the more expensive motorway filling stations.

Sum up your past 12 months in 24 words or less

Global oil prices drove down fuel costs, and with supermarkets offering the best prices it was a fantastic year for FuelGenie and its customers.

Preview your next 12 months in 24 words or less

In 2015 FuelGenie will be expanding its supermarket network to include even more fuel station partners nationwide. 



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