Fighting Service Fleet Fuel Fraud
Fuel is one of the most important aspects of any service fleet business, which also makes it one of the more expensive aspects as well. Rising gas prices aside, the consistent need to refuel even the most fuel-efficient vehicles can run up a hefty tab for businesses to pay.
Of course, that bill is a necessary evil for businesses built on service to customers on a weekly route. Nevertheless, it’s an annoying expense on account of how often it comes into focus. Most if not all companies would love nothing more than to trim the cost of that bill as much as they can to better serve their bottom line.
But in the pursuit of greater profits, some service fleet businesses have fallen victim to a practice that sends their revenue in the opposite direction. And the worst part of it all is that those behind it come from within the company by the employees tasked with filling up those gas tanks on a regular basis.
What is fuel fraud?
The overarching definition of fuel fraud is when employees essentially steal fuel from the company they work for. Though it can occur in many different ways.
Workers who use a personal car for their job are often reimbursed for the money they use for gas. So, some drivers might lie about the number of miles they drove so that they’re able to collect more reimbursement money from their employers. Such a tactic isn’t possible when driving a company-issued truck. Not when a fleet manager can easily check a truck’s odometer before it’s taken out for a shift and after it comes back, compare the two numbers, and confirm the number reported to them by the driver. But without access to that information from a personal vehicle, drivers can inflate their total just a little bit to earn some extra cash while not raising any suspicion.
To pay for fuel when out on the job, service fleet drivers are usually given a company card to use whenever they’re filling up their tank at the gas station. The card is linked to the company’s finances, which is easier than having to reimburse drivers for fuel purchases they make with their personal credit card. However, it’s possible for drivers to let other people use the card to fill up their respective vehicles. Whether it’s friends or family, these people are essentially getting free gas. As long as the cardholder makes sure that they don’t let their peers rack up to noticeably high of a bill, it would be difficult for fleet managers to know what goes on at the gas station when they’re not around.
Drivers may sometimes buy a type of fuel that differs from the ones used by the trucking business using company money, which means it was a purchase made for a vehicle not authorized by the fleet manager. Or they could fill up their truck’s fuel tank only to later siphon the gas out of the tank and use it for a different purpose.
There’s no one single way to commit fuel fraud, which makes the practice all the more difficult for businesses to try and crackdown on.
How does fuel fraud affect trucking businesses?
No single act of fuel fraud is going to make or break a fleet service company’s bottom line. Left unchecked for an extended period of time, however, and companies could find themselves with a significant problem on their hands.
Money and profit are what drive most companies. When money that’s supposed to be helping their bottom line is going out the door, business all of a sudden doesn’t become so great. Perhaps revenue projections aren’t being met, which can have a ripple effect across the entire company that could potentially cost some people their job due to budget cuts.
Maybe that’s an extreme example of how fuel fraud affects trucking businesses, but the foundation of the problem is present. Employees are stealing from the company they work for. That can never end well for anyone involved. Companies lose out on profits, and who knows of the ramifications that could follow.
How can businesses spot signs of fuel fraud?
Because fuel fraud exists in so many different ways, it can become difficult for businesses to discover when it’s happening right under their nose. One of the best ways for businesses and fleet managers to find out whether or not any of their employees are partaking is to become as detail-oriented as possible, at least when it comes to a company card employees use to pay for fuel.
Check to see how much money is being put on the card at various gas stations. If there’s an outlier, a number that seems too high, you should be able to spot it and confront the employee to blame. Perhaps one truck driver seems to be making too many stops on a route that you know only requires so many visits to the gas station. Or maybe they’ve made the simple mistake of purchasing the kind of gas that’s not used by company-issued vehicles.
Another method of discovering fuel fraud can be tied to the implementation of GPS tracking technology, the kind that can let a fleet manager know how long their trucks are sitting idle while out on the job. If one service stop happens to have taken up a lot more time than others, it could be a sign that the truck driver in question is doing more than filling up their fuel tank.
Introduce fuel cards for your fleet
Adding fuel cards and telematics technologies will provide visibility into how drivers impact fuel spending in the fleet.
Here are some specific benefits to using a fleet fuel card:
Preferred providers – If fleets get fuel discounts with certain fuel stations, they can ensure that drivers save fuel costs by filling up only at approved locations.
Card misuse prevention – Integrating fuel cards with a GPS tracking system will allow your fleet to ensure that company cards are used only for the fleet and not for personal vehicles.
Track spending – Fuel cards are only used for the purchase of fuel, allowing fleets to get a clearer picture of driver spending.
If you’d like to learn more about how GPS Trackit can help to improve safety, increase productivity and reduce costs for your business, speak with one of our knowledgeable Fleet Advisors at 866-320-5810 or get a quick Custom Quote.
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