Fuel cards help your business manage and track fuel expenses more effectively
Fuel cards are great business tools for accurate and efficient fuel expense tracking. And yet, many companies fail to take full advantage of their fuel cards.
Businesses that rely on fleet vehicles for operations tend to have large fuel budgets. For many, gas or diesel is the greatest monthly expense. The more effectively you can manage the high costs of doing business, the greater your margins.
Sometimes the way you manage expenses is more problematic than the expenses themselves. Relying on traditional expense tracking methods increases the chance of accounting errors, wastes valuable driver and accounting hours, and is an inefficient way to manage data.
Fuel cards alleviate the need for collecting receipts and creating expense reports while offering the most effective way to collect, view, interpret and act on real-time data.
The problem with spreadsheets
Fuel expense tracking is essential for businesses that utilize fleet vehicles. The traditional method is using a spreadsheet.
Spreadsheet fuel management involves:
- Drivers paying for fuel and related expenses with cash or credit cards
- Keeping all receipts and a mileage log
- Receipts and mileage logs are turned in with an expense report
- Manual entry of data such as fuel spend and mileage
Using manual methods for entering data presents three major problems — the risk of error, time wasted, and lack of usable data.
The cost of errors
Manually entered data poses a considerable risk — one misplaced keystroke or decimal can drastically affect projections or budgets. And recording fuel expense data in spreadsheets makes for plenty of opportunities for mistakes — the larger your fleet, the greater the chance for error.
Inefficient time management
With spreadsheets, drivers must log mileage, keep fuel receipts, and fill out reports, and your accounting department has to review and process the reports and correct any errors. Once a report is approved, the data needs to be entered. All these things take time.
Delayed decision making
Manual expense reports are usually submitted monthly and, in some cases, weekly. Either way, you don’t have actionable data until after the reports are received, approved, and entered. In the best-case scenario, you have usable information a few weeks after making a purchase. This makes it impossible to respond to issues like theft or fraud promptly.
Fleet cards are a better way to manage fueling
Fleet fuel cards address every issue spreadsheets present. With automated fuel tracking, you have more accurate data, more time for staff to spend on other tasks, and data you can use to make better business decisions.
Accurate fuel expense data
Automated expense tracking drastically reduces the opportunity for human error. Since transactions are captured and categorized as they happen, drivers no longer need to collect receipts or track odometer readings.
With data being communicated straight to a fuel tracking dashboard, every expense is accounted for with amount, date, location of purchase, and more.
Better use of staff hours
With a fuel card, drivers don’t need to track receipts or complete fuel expense reports. And your accounting department no longer needs to review, correct, or approve expense reports.
Automated reporting means drivers have more time for driving, and your accounting department can focus on other essential business tasks.
Every purchase made with a fuel card is recorded in real time. This means no waiting for actionable data. Review daily purchase patterns, immediately respond to potential fraud or theft, and compare fuel consumption between drivers, vehicles, routes, and more.
The tracking capabilities of fuel cards give you the tools to make better business decisions.
The must-haves of a fuel card
A few must-have features ensure you get the most out of a fuel card. When selecting the fuel card that is right for you, make sure it includes the following:
The real-time reporting of a fuel card streamlines accounting. And when a card gives you purchase controls, the advantage of a fuel card is even more significant.
Look for a card that allows you to set purchase limits by amount, product type, fuel location, time of day, and day of the week. These controls reduce the likelihood of fraud or misuse and give you the data points you need to make informed decisions.
You should also be able to easily deactivate and order new cards in the event one is lost or stolen.
Mobile account access
Many fuel card providers offer mobile apps. The convenience of account control from anywhere means you can monitor purchase activity and review data on the go.
Ideally, you will also have access to an app that helps drivers find the cheapest fuel at nearby gas stations.
The ideal fuel card should allow the creation of customized reports. When viewing fuel expense data by fleet, vehicle, driver, route, etc., you can make better decisions about fuel management.
Customizable reporting means you can view financial summaries, create site summaries, compile tax exemptions, and drill down on expense data. It’s easy to view sales tax, purchases by fuel grade, fuel economy, etc.
Fuel cards improve business operations
Businesses, small to large, are effectively managing fuel expenses with fuel cards. Optimize your company with more accurate information, streamlined accounting, real-time data, and purchase controls.