Rising Fuel Costs Threatening Small Businesses

As politicians debate the best ways to deter the rising fuel prices, small business owners just want an answer, and quickly!

A new survey from the Small Business and Entrepreneurship Council (SBE Council) has shown how the hike in fuel prices is dramatically impacting on small businesses and threatening the current economic recovery. The survey, “Entrepreneurs and the Economy: Trends, Issues and Outlook,” found that an overwhelming 72% of business owners are feeling pain from prices at the pump.

Commenting on the survey, SBE Council President & CEO Karen Kerrigan said: “The fragile economy is being undermined by high gas prices. The weak recovery and policy uncertainties are already weighing on the confidence and minds of small business owners. Now they must find a way to cope with higher fuel costs.”

Tough decisions

Unfortunately very few organisations are immune from the negative effects of rising energy costs. And as a result, entrepreneurs and managers are making tough decisions, none of which are positive for their businesses. The SBE Council found that the prices are forcing some business owners to cut employee hours, while 40% have raised prices and reconsidered their hiring plans.

Low-cost options

There are, however plenty of other low-cost options that managers can use to help drive down fuel bills, without having to make such drastic decisions.

Poorly maintained vehicles have higher toxic emissions and fuel consumption. Regularly serviced and frequent checks on things such as tyre pressure, breaks and engine wear can have a huge impact on a vehicle’s running costs and carbon footprint.

Another way to reduce fuel costs is to evaluate the size of your vehicles of your fleet. Does your driver need a full-size van where a small vehicle could do the trick?

Route optimising tools can also improve efficiency and in-turn reduces fuel consumption saving the company a considerable amount of money in the process. Online furniture store, Oakfurnitureland managed to reduce fuel costs and improve their productivity by 50% by deploying route optimising technology across its fleet of fifty vans and ten articulated lorries.

And they aren’t the only ones, the UK’s largest independent electrical retail outlet, Sonic Direct saved a generous £50,000 in fuel costs and manpower hours after implementing the technology throughout its fleet of distribution vehicles.

Reduce unnecessary road miles

Back-office applications such as route optimising software allow companies to improve their working processes for great efficiency by reducing unnecessary road miles. The online service plans the shortest route for single vehicles or whole fleets, taking into account height, weight, and width to help find the shortest, most efficient route. A business with 10 vehicles averaging 500 miles per day can look to save approximately 100 miles per day. At a cost of 15p per mile that’s a saving of £15 a day, £105 a week and an enormous £5,460 a year.

Last month fuel prices hit record highs around the UK, with no signs of slowing down soon it makes even more sense for businesses to invest in route planning technology.

How is the price of fuel affecting your business? Have you raised prices or made other changes?

  • Great post Guy, i think planning the route to a tee is possibly one of the best moves to make as drivers can go out of their way, drive slowly etc and it all starts to add up from their but wit a strict route; there’ll be an estimated time and so on which could improve driver efficiency and effectively reduce fuel expenditure. – Caroline

  • All rising fuel costs lead to us having to pass this on to our customers. We run large removal lorries across England so fuel is a big cost for us.