Fleet Management Information for Sweeping Professionals
Track Your Fuel Usage
Card access fuel stations make good business sense.
You may have noticed those service stations here and there that have no attendant, none of the usual advertising designed to attract the attention of the public, and only a basic sign to identify the company owning the property. No, it's not some kind of a private club operation that the public is not invited to use. This is actually a service that has much to recommend it to the sweeping industry.
To get a good overview of the advantages of what are generally referred to as 'cardlock fueling stations,' we spoke to representatives of two of the largest companies in the industry, Pacific Pride Services, Inc. and Commercial Fueling Network. Both have fueling locations over a good portion of the country and provide service -- via a card access system -- to commercial vehicle operators and some municipal governments. (However, many of the individual station sites are locally-owned and may have local variations on their accounting and billing systems.)
A clear advantage of the cardlock fueling system is the basic paperwork they provide their clients which includes an abundance of useful information. These offer type and amount of fuel purchased, date and time of purchase, odometer reading, a computed mile-per-gallon for each vehicle, price per gallon, and total amount purchased. Also of value is a 'miscellaneous' field that should be available for keeping track of particular trucks or even particular jobs for which the sweeper is being used. Card use can typically be limited to whatever products the management wants to allow. Another big plus -- of particular value to those in the sweeping profession -- is that these sites are open 24 hours a day, 7 days per week
What you get by using a franchise fuel station can be summed up through three C's: Control, through the use of a dedicated card instead of cash; Convenience, through the unlimited hours of operation and numerous site locations; and Credit, due to the periodic billing scheme.
Connie Kanas of Pacific Pride tells us that they offer two kinds of card systems. One uses just a driver card that activates the pump. The other is a two card system which requires both a driver card and a vehicle card. With the second system both cards are necessary to start a pump, so the driver card is useless unless used in a company vehicle. With their system, the charge on the cards is generally limited to fuel, oil and other petroleum-related products, but that can vary according to the provider. These may include propane, kerosene, vehicle washing, sanitary dump, restrooms, showers, and other services.
Gary Fiedler of Fiedler Cardlock Fuels, an associate of Commercial Fueling Network (CFN), told us that they typically offer the same types of services, in some cases even including local charging at restaurants, mini-marts, and motels. All of these can be charged to the access card on an itemized basis, and CFN then bills once a month with a 30 day net to pay.
Both publish a map-type brochure showing their site locations and listing all services offered at each. Fiedler said there are over 600 CFN sites nationwide, and their literature also showed that they have 58 more sites in 18 states that will be "coming soon." Pacific Pride boasts 650 sites spread over 37 states, and say that they typically add 6 to 10 locations per month.
Pacific Pride also has what they call a 'captive site' plan. This is, in essence, a program whereby they adapt a large company or municipality's current fueling site to the Pacific Pride card-coding equipment. All the fuel used at the customer's location is then entered into the standard accounting system, making it easier to track on-site fuel usage. In addition, the access cards for that company/municipality are also valid at the other general-user Pacific Pride sites in the area and around the country.
For what appear to be some good business reasons, this fueling system is catching on fast across the country. Just the record-keeping information aspect alone seems like a great incentive to commercial fleet operators and municipalities. That feature, along with the 'unattended' and 'petroleum products only' which the majority of sites offer, combine to be a big deterrence to abuse by employees. As use of these stations expands, it should herald an end to drivers fudging on their fuel costs.
For more information on Pacific Pride, call 1-800-367-5066. To reach Gary Fiedler of CFN, call 206-424-1800.
Jerry Mixon is a retired public administrator who now enjoys life puttering around on his seven acres, doing woodworking and writing.
This article is reprinted from American Sweeper magazine, v3n3.
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