Johannesburg – Fuel remains one of the most expensive operating costs for SMEs with few vehicles. As a result, this makes it essential for SMEs to actively manage this expense to avoid it negatively impacting profit margins.
2022 has seen an exponential rise in the price of fuel, reaching record highs. A combination of factors, including high international oil prices, pushed the cost of fuel to R26.74, leaving small businesses with no choice but to absorb the increase.
Though the recent decreases in the price of fuel have brought a certain degree of relief to business owners, it is still vital to implement measures to save as much as possible.
Jesse Weinberg, Co-Head, SME at FNB, says the tough economic environment, including additional cost pressures such as load shedding and fuel price hikes, makes it essential for SMEs to constantly review their cost-cutting strategies and find creative ways to make their businesses more profitable.
Weinberg shared some ways businesses can save on their monthly fuel spend.
“For fuel, in particular, there are a number of strategies that SMEs with a few vehicles can consider, given the volatile nature and economic factors that impact fuel prices,” said Weinberg.
Maximising loyalty and reward programmes – Similar to how these programmes have been successful in providing some form of relief for consumers, SMEs can benefit even more considering the number of vehicles they own and fuel spending every month.
For example, an FNB small business client with a few vehicles currently has the potential to earn up to R6 per litre back in eBucks for fuel purchases made at Engen. As a result, businesses can save just over 20% of their fuel spend with the difference invested back into their business.
“Importantly, all drivers should be trained and equipped to apply the correct earn rules when filling up, such as using their FNB Virtual Debit Cards when paying for fuel and other spend, as there is a higher eBucks earn on FNB Virtual Cards,” says Weinberg.
Vehicle maintenance – During tough economic times, some small businesses may opt to skip vehicle maintenance to cut costs. Although this may appear to work in the short-term, it has long-term financial and possible risk ramifications for the business. Not only do poorly maintained vehicles often consume more fuel, but unforeseen vehicle breakdowns are expensive and can impact a business’s reputation by impairing its ability to deliver to customers.
Technology – SMEs should also consider investing in telematics that helps monitor fuel usage as well as driving behaviour, such as speeding, which can result in possible fines but also contribute to higher fuel bills.
SMEs should also consider using navigation apps and systems to avoid heavily congested routes, which often result in higher fuel consumption and delays.