Fleets need to keep a keen eye on their fuel costs, with prices expected to continue falling from the record highs seen last year, according to software firm Fleetcheck.

The company’s managing director Peter Golding said that, while interest in fuel management at a corporate level often tended to rise and fall in correlation to pump prices, an ongoing strategic approach to the topic was essential.

Referring to the RAC’s observation that decreasing oil prices could start to feed through to sharp falls in pump prices quite quickly, Golding said: “In these situations, you can almost hear an audible sigh of relief across the fleet sector as prices are perceived to have dropped to a ‘sensible’ level.

“However, while lower prices are certainly welcome, they are not a pretext for fleets to take their eyes off the ball. Buying fuel remains a major expense in the running of cars and vans and, even if there is a substantial market adjustment forthcoming, it is a fundamental of fleet management to ensure that basic cost control measures remain in place.

“Of course, some fleets are good at controlling fuel expenditure on an ongoing basis – tracking fuel use to examine both overall trends, and drivers and vehicles at an individual level – but in others the subject tends to be more of a cyclical priority in response to current prices.”

Golding said that Fleetcheck encouraged clients to track fuel expenditure intensively.

He said: “In our experience over many years, the best way to gather fuel data is through a fuel card alongside journey information from telematics, and the best way to assimilate that data is through fleet management software that is able to make sense of the mass of information. This approach helps fleets to make strategic decisions at both a macro and micro level.

“However, there is also a step beyond this where questioning fuel use is ingrained into the culture of a business, where a line manager will raise questions about whether individual employees or whole departments need to be making all the trips they are undertaking. 

“This can be much harder to achieve but, to our mind, is very much worthwhile and has a longstanding impact on fuel expenditure, whatever the current pump prices.”