The spiralling cost of motoring is a problem with which thousands of business owners are familiar.
As a recent RAC survey showed, drivers across the country are struggling with the twin threats of rising fuel prices and hikes in insurance premiums. All those businesses that rely on their vehicles are suffering as a result.
As a business owner, there is little you can do to control the vagaries of the oil markets. But you can take some simple but concrete steps to help keep the cost of your motoring down – and ease the pressure on your pocket in these already strained times.
1. Shop around for fuel
Earlier this month, Tesco kickstarted a fuel ‘price war’ by cutting its pump prices. While this is likely to be just a temporary respite from the perpetual upward trend, it does underline the fact that savvy customers can cut their outgoings simply by shopping around.
Consider using a site like PetrolPrices.com to find the cheapest deals nearby – and remember that fuel will always be more expensive in, for example, motorway service stations or small rural towns.
2. …and insurance
According to the RAC survey, rising insurance premiums are amongst the most pressing financial concerns facing drivers. While insurance is of course a legal (and practical) necessity, you can reduce its cost by shopping around. Additionally, remember that drivers with good no claims histories will generally benefit from lower prices.
3. Consider car clubs
Many businesses rely on their vehicle, but do not have to use it every day. In these cases (and when significant but occasional expenses like MOTs, maintenance and depreciation are factored in), the cost per mile can be significantly increased.
Businesses that require less frequent use of a vehicle may find that membership of a scheme like Streetcar or Zipcar is the most cost effective option. These organisations allow you to pay for the use of a vehicle on an hourly basis. Some pay for a portion of your fuel, and a range of vehicles is on offer from small cars to vans.
4. Watch your speed
Speed can have a significant impact on your fuel consumption. Driving at 85 mph instead of 70mph (apart from being against the law) will increase your fuel consumption by some 25 per cent. Similarly, sudden acceleration or braking can dramatically reduce your vehicle’s fuel efficiency.
Many people forget about the importance of their driving practices when considering ways to cut the cost of motoring. By making small changes to the way you drive, you can make the cost of your journeys more manageable.
5. Think about parts
Maintenance can account for some of the most significant costs associated with vehicle ownership. But you can reduce your potential outgoings by thinking about the ways in which you source parts.
Often, the mechanic that works on your vehicle will mark up the cost of the parts that they use. You may, however, be able to source the parts yourself – and benefit from the lower prices. You should be able to find details of local dealers in your phone book.
It is also worth considering the cost of spares when buying your vehicle. Some makes are generally more expensive than others, and you may wish to factor this into your decision.
6. Plan your route
Finally, it might sound basic, but a properly planned route can be a major help in cutting your fuel costs. Free online journey planning tools like Google Maps can help you to identify the most fuel effective routes – for example by allowing you to prioritise faster roads or avoid town centres.