One of the keys to success in trucking is controlling operating costs. Trucking is a low margin industry and finding creative ways to increase efficiency and reduce costs is essential to our continued growth.
Fuel is a large operating cost which needs to be managed properly. We’ve made significant investments to increase fuel efficiency including wind deflectors on all of our trailers, anti-idle devices on many of our power units, and cash incentives for low idle times for our drivers.
As a fleet we can manage fuel costs by making better decisions about where to fuel. Management isn’t going to micro manage our drivers and choose their fuel stops; that’s part of our drivers trip planning. Our fleet does fuel at a preferred truck stop chain (Flying J), which means, we need to fuel there as much as possible. There are limited times when we may need to fuel outside of that network, such as, north eastern United States or northern Ontario but the network is extensive.
Here are a few tips to help make better fueling decisions.
- Fuel gets cheaper the farther south you go. When you’re heading to the southern United States try to, when you can, limit your fuel purchases in the northern states and grab more fuel further south. This doesn’t mean risk running out of fuel or disrupting your schedule but grabbing a little less fuel in the north while still keeping your schedule can add up to some nice cost savings.
- Limit your fuel purchases in the north eastern United States. By this we mean the New England area (CT, MA, RI, VT, NH, & ME). Again, don’t run out of fuel. You can fuel before entering the area and if you need to get fuel while there, grab enough only to get out of the area instead of filling up.
- Fuel is cheaper in the U.S than in Canada. When you know you’re going to the U.S only take on as much fuel, in Canada, as you need to get across the border (if you need to grab any at all). When you’re coming back to Canada fill up before you hit the border.
- Fuel as little as possible in California. California is more expensive than the surrounding states. It’s a huge state but if you fuel before entering and fuel enough to get out, and not fill up, you can save a bundle.
- Fuel in cities is generally cheaper than rural areas. For example, Portage La Prairie can be up to 3 cents more expensive than Winnipeg.
If you apply these biases when planning your fuel we can end up reducing costs. Even a half cent per mile reduction in fuel costs is significant and not difficult to achieve.