On-site fueling stations can provide many benefits to government fleets, including improved fuel management and budgeting. Like anything, though, on-site fueling has its pros and cons, and even if it seems like the best option for the fleet, there are still two big obstacles to overcome: getting the stamp of approval and basically everything pertaining to the infrastructure.
When advocating or lobbying for any new fleet purchase, it can be immensely helpful to have data in hand showing why the purchase is necessary and how it can benefit the entire operation. But before deciding to pitch the case for on-site fueling, it’s important to understand the pros and cons to get a better idea of how having an on-site station can affect the fleet.
Pros of On-site Fueling
An on-site fueling station represents a large upfront investment with both short- and long-term benefits. Satellite stations are also an option for fleets covering a wider radius or to benefit employees who take their vehicles home rather than back to HQ. In either case, some benefits to consider include:
- Consistent price points: Not only does on-site fueling allow for bulk purchase savings, but through price negotiation, fleets can mitigate financial loss during periods where gas prices either drop or increase for everyday consumers. Additionally, because you’re paying a fixed price rather than the varied prices associated with fueling at consumer stations, fuel spend can be more accurately budgeted for.
- Convenience: For employees whose vehicles live at HQ when not in use, or for those who need to swing by HQ before starting their day, on-site fueling can be extremely convenient, with employees fueling either before leaving or upon returning to the home base. This means less downtime on the road, and it can even improve emergency response times.
- Better fuel management and control: Due to the aforementioned consistent price points, managing and controlling fuel is much easier because you essentially have a baseline price to work from. This makes it easier to spot discrepancies in fuel spend/consumption, but also decreases risks associated with shortages and price hikes.
Cons of On-site Fueling
While on-site fueling can be beneficial, it’s not always going to be the best solution for every fleet. And even if it is the best solution, you’ve got some obstacles standing in the way. Cons of on-site fueling include:
- Infrastructure costs: On-site fueling infrastructure doesn’t come with a small price tag, and there are different regulations that need to be followed depending on if you’re using above ground or in-ground tanks. This means a lot of planning and likely revision of the plan to ensure safety and compliance while still maintaining convenience.
- Station maintenance and management: When it comes to on-site or even — maybe especially — satellite fueling stations, not only is the upfront cost for the infrastructure something to contend with, but there also needs to be someone to manage and maintain the station in case an issue arises and to receive fuel deliveries. This means either adding or moving around an employee, which can cut into payroll, productivity or both.
- Zero emissions policies: Getting an on-site fueling station can seem like a waste of time and money with sustainability policies trying to push out internal combustion engine vehicles in favor of zero-emission vehicles. If you’re making a plan to convert to electric, it could very well be possible that a charging infrastructure is going to benefit your fleet more.
Making the Case for On-site Fueling
When it comes to advocating for fleet purchases, your biggest allies are data, data and more data. Metrics such as fuel spend and location surface how much fuel is purchased, when and where, allowing you to see how much is being spent fleet-wide and per asset. Another key metric is average fuel price.
Gas stations have wildly different prices depending on location — even when right across the street from one another — so it’s likely the average fuel spend for your fleet is higher than it needs to be. All these numbers can be compared against a quote from whichever vendor you choose and from there, you can discern the potential savings of on-site fueling. And you’ll be in a better position to negotiate fair pricing.
While collecting these metrics can seem like a daunting task, fleet solutions like fleet management software (FMS) can make the process easy and intuitive. FMS collects, consolidates and aggregates data from the fleet as well as other solutions you might be using, including telematics and fuel cards.
Fuel management features in FMS help fleets see how much fuel is being used and what the associated costs are per asset or for the whole fleet. It even sends discrepancy alerts for over fueling, helping to mitigate misuse and theft. Reports for key metrics are automatically generated and are filterable, ensuring you can quickly find the data points you need to make a strong case for procuring assets, equipment, tools or an on-site fueling station.
For many fleets across industries, it can be a battle to get needed tools, assets and solutions, and it’s no different for government fleets. In fact, it’s probably more difficult. But whether you have to draft a pitch, proposal or some other official request for an on-site fueling station, it behooves you to come prepared and be able to accurately explain the return on investment.