Fuel Cards: Partners With Purpose
One of the biggest challenges fleet managers face is fuel spend. If not properly measured and controlled, this part of the job can be truly overwhelming.
One of the panel discussions at this year’s I&E in Orlando addressed the benefits of using a fuel card to better manage fuel spend. One of the panelists — Cal Kretsinger, General Executive, Emission Control Commodities and Fuel Business Development, Ameren, Missouri — talked about the challenges his organization faced and how it got the needed help from its fuel card provider.
“We had all these different streams of data coming in from different sources,” Kretsinger explained, “and the I.T. resources required to bring them into our system were astounding. So we decided that across all our fueling platforms, we were going to have one source for payment, and that was going to be our fuel card.”
In other words, instead of trying to collect, manage and analyze data from multiple streams, which Kretsinger said cost a fortune, he and his team decided that all the data should be collected and sifted by their fuel card provider.
“Once a month we download a data file, and a statement,” he said. “It divides up the gasoline, and the diesel, and the DEF, and the miscellaneous purchases. And instead of 15 data sources coming in, along with 15 cheques going out each month, we get one data source coming in, one data source to process, and one cheque to write.
“The data isn’t always easy to work with, so you might want to rely on your fuel card provider to generate the reports you need.”
Beyond basic data
Fleet managers benefit from their fuel card provider’s report-generating abilities. “There are two types of reports,” explains ARI Marketing Manager, Peter Nogalo. ARI offers two types of cards — an ARI proprietary card, which is managed in-house, and a MasterCard, which is supported by BMO.
“One type of report would be the standard transaction or activity report, which is broken down with level three data that gives you specific information about each transaction,” Nogalo adds. “The second is what we call exception alerts. They track unusual behaviour. For example, multiple transaction per card per day. In some cases that may be normal, but if it’s not, then an alert is sent out. Another example could be a tank violation, which means more fuel is purchased than the tank can hold.”
In other words, your fuel card provider can help you stop fraud before it becomes a real problem. And while standard transaction of activity reports are sent out to clients on a regular basis, Nogalo says exception reports are sent out immediately, so that fraud can be nipped in the bud.
In order to reduce or even eliminate fraud, leading fuel card providers, like ARI, offer fuel cards armed with chip and PIN (Personal Identification Number) technology. Not only does this technology allow fleet managers to track who in their organization is using the card, and how, but it also renders a card virtually useless should it ever fall into the wrong hands.
Petro-Canada (Suncor) offers a proprietary card called SuperPass, which is managed entirely in-house — all the way from card production to dedicated sales and support teams. “We are proud to service Canadian fleets with a fully Canadian program that provides the most in convenience, control, security and access to detailed information,” says Peter Kostin, Manager Commercial Road Transport — Sales, Suncor Energy Products Partnership.
One of the unique features of SuperPass is that the same card can be used at Petro-Canada gas stations, at the company’s Petro-Pass cardlock locations and at truck stops in the U.S. Fleet managers can determine which cards have access to which locations.
SuperPass also offers the option to distribute cards with multiple PINs, allowing fleet managers to control spending by driver, as well as by card. They can also set purchase limits and restrictions by fuel type, by day, time, geography and more.
“SuperPass provides the power to control both fuel and non-fuel purchases. It’s easy to restrict purchases of items such as car washes, automotive products and other store items. In addition, the robust reporting capabilities of the SuperPass Online management tool provides fleet managers with information that can help them control costs and make better business decisions,” says Kostin.
Reports can be customized and scheduled to be distributed automatically. This includes SuperPass’ exception monitoring report, which alerts fleet managers to unusual transactions. “SuperPass offers numerous easy to use features and tools to help fleet managers gain insight into their fleet and take action to control costs,” says Kostin.
Naturally, fleet managers are never left on their own to try to figure things out. “Our Account Managers work very closely with fleet managers,” says Josh Ferguson, National Sales Manager, Shell, Commercial Fleet. “They help fleet managers decide which reports are best to run, what type of controls should be put into place, which rejection reports they’d like to see, etc.”
Shell offers chip and PIN-protected fuel cards as well. The company has two products — TRITON, which can be used only within the Shell network, and the Navigator Card, which offers fleets universal access.
Shell takes safety and security to a new level. “It’s part of our DNA,” says Henry Miller, GM of the Commercial Fleet Card Program for Shell Oil Company in North America. “In fact, we go so far as to have policies for all our drivers. No one can use a phone in the car. Not even hands-free. There are just no phones in cars. You have to turn your phone off before you get in. It’s a commitment Shell makes and it’s something we believe in.”
That commitment extends to the company’s fuel cards, as well. That’s why Shell is working on adding new features to aid their customers with their own pursuit of safety and security on the job. “We have a number of features we’re working on,” Miller explains. “They’re not available yet, but they will be shortly. For one, a leading road safety company in Canada will provide roadside assistance. That will be a feature for all our card holders. We’re also going to sign a preventative maintenance agreement.”
The agreement will allow Shell fuel card customers to access a national network of service provider in order to take care of necessities like oil changes.
If you’re not sure about your fuel spend, or if you’d simply like to get a clearer picture of your fuel expenses, partnering with a fuel card provider could well be the answer you’re looking for. Fuel card providers offer the expertise, the security, and the report-generating abilities that will help you paint a clearer picture of where your fuel budget is going, where you can save, and how you can better manage your resources.