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Reduce small business expenses: Three tricks of the trade

February 26, 2024

Small businesses nationwide have been facing an uphill battle in establishing financial stability with disruptions like inflation, fuel cost fluctuations, and rising vehicle maintenance costs impacting their bottom line. In times of economic uncertainty, there are simple strategies that can help reduce expenses and put fleet managers at ease. Earlier we published two articles describing how trucking businesses can weather both upswings and downturns to global economics, and five straightforward tactics to maximize your benefits. This article shares some tricks for how small businesses or government organizations with a fleet of commercial vehicles can do the same.

Nobel-winning economist Paul Krugman recently reported that the U.S. had the strongest recovery from COVID globally and he attributed this outcome to workplace adaptability and an openness to adopt more flexible operational tactics. Despite our ability to recover from the pandemic, there is still cause for concern about the likelihood of a recession in 2024. According to the New York Fed’s recession probability indicator, the U.S. has between a 50 – 60% chance of falling into a recession in the next 12 months – a decrease from previous forecasts, but still indicative of ongoing economic turbulence. 

So what does this mean for small business owners, large fleet managers, and government fleet managers? Adaptability, flexibility, and reliance on tried and true methods of security and cost savings will be the keys to your success. Read on to learn how you can protect your commercial vehicles and government fleets against market shifts.

Trick # 1: Take advantage of fleet card rebates to increase profits

Fuel card rebates are invoice credits based on the number of qualified gallons of fuel purchased by a fleet in a given month. Rebates are usually categorized into different tier levels, with the value of rebates increasing proportionally to the amount of fuel purchased. While the savings may seem insignificant at a glance, rebates quickly add up when an entire fleet is taken into consideration. The amount of fuel your company purchases determines how much you earn.

Selecting the right fuel card is important, as certain cards have better benefits and rebates depending on your business operations. Fuel card rebates are directly tied to how much fuel your organization purchases with a single card brand. For this reason, loyalty is important for maximizing the amount of rebates you can earn. Sometimes, fuel card programs instill a minimum fuel spend threshold that must be met in order to earn rebates. For your small business, this is usually not a barrier to entry. However, some fuel card programs instead offer rebates on a per-transaction basis, which provides an advantage for small- to mid-sized fleets. Even if your company does not purchase fuel in high volumes, there are still many ways to benefit from fuel card rebates.

Trick # 2: Your fleet card offers much more than fuel – take advantage of those offerings

Overseeing small business commercial vehicles is complex. It includes managing fuel and repairs, and ensuring you have the parts and tools you need to keep your vehicles on the road. While fleet cards can help you manage fuel spend, the best fleet card programs go beyond just fuel. 

Today, many fuel card providers offer smaller businesses savings and benefits that often include savings on: 

  • Maintenance service 
  • Vehicle parts 
  • Hotels 
  • Wireless service for you and your employees

As you do your research and determine which fuel card provider to partner with, considering what they offer beyond fuel can make the difference for your business’s bottom line in any economic climate. Here’s a list of additional savings measures the very best fleet card providers offer their customers:

Maintenance and Service Benefits:

Many fleet card providers have expanded their networks to include maintenance and service. This means that businesses can use their fleet cards for oil changes, tire purchases, repairs, and more. By centralizing these expenses on one card, businesses can better track and manage their maintenance costs. Some fleet card programs even offer discounts or rewards for maintenance services, providing added savings.

Auto Parts:

Exclusive savings with auto part suppliers is an example of one benefit to signing up for a fleet card that will pay back in dividends. In partnership with suppliers, fleet card providers give their customers access to hundreds of thousands of parts from hundreds of brands and pricing typically reserved for businesses with larger accounts. Just by signing up for a fleet card you are automatically given access to this kind of savings.


Control, track, and streamline tire purchasing with competitive online tire and installation pricing. For example, if your fuel card provider partners with a national tire company, your employees can get automatic access to thousands of retail operations locations in the U.S.

Hotel rooms for when your drivers are on the road:

Some fleet card providers have partnerships with hotels giving your employees access to discounts and special rates with thousands of U.S. hotels through your fleet card membership.

Wireless service:

Many fleet cards also offer special savings on wireless service. Just by signing your small business up for a fleet card, your drivers get access to the most cost-effective rate plans with industry-leading mobile hotspot data and more business benefits with wireless providers.

GPS tracking:

Often your fleet card providers can offer your small business special deals on GPS vehicle tracking which will do wonders for your bottom line.

From detailed analytics to security features, maintenance benefits, and sustainability insights, fleet cards offer businesses an unparalleled tool to optimize, secure, and grow your operations. As technology continues to evolve, the benefits of fleet cards will only expand, making them an indispensable asset for modern fleet management.

Trick # 3: Access real-time, accurate, meaningful data with fleet card technology

Telematics technology provides you with data analytics to inform better decision-making whether you are a small or large business, or a government fleet. This data analysis can help you identify areas where your fleet is overspending. When paired with a fleet card program, telematics technology can help your business or government organization reduce unnecessary fuel usage, keep drivers and vehicles safe, and maintain compliance with industry rules and regulations. Add a dash camera to your fleet of vehicles and you can provide opportunities to coach better driving habits/behavior that can also provide you with cost savings.

Fleet telematics collects data that, when used with your fuel card data, can paint a more complete picture of driver activity. That data provides visual models to simplify your decision-making process. The data from fleet telematics helps your small business or government organization strategically plan routes, reduce idle time in traffic, and predetermine fueling stops to find the lowest-priced gas stations. Additionally, fleet managers can use telematics technology to help maintain the health and longevity of your fleet of vehicles. You can remotely track commercial vehicle diagnostics, set reminders for vehicle maintenance cycles, and document vehicle history all within a handy dashboard. These vehicle management features help prolong the life of your fleet of commercial vehicles and improve your organization’s overall operational efficiency.

Fleet telematics use premium GPS tracking to keep your drivers and fleet vehicles safe. When combined with optional on-board cameras, fleet telematics allows you to monitor vehicles along their routes, detect distracted driving, and analyze driver performance. As a fleet manager, you can review footage of critical moments that occur on the road and train your employees with real-life examples. Moreover, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) states that accidents cost businesses an average of $90,000 per incident. To mitigate this, on-board cameras can provide you with the resources needed to determine fault, liability, and reduce the possibility of accidents. Overall, telematics technology integrates with your fuel card program to provide your small business or government organization with actionable insights for improving fleet efficiency.

Take advantage of enhanced data and savings to optimize small business management

While commercial vehicle management is complex, trusted fuel card partners developing innovative technologies can help you simplify the business of running your business. Fuel cards and telematics solutions provide the essential tools that small companies and government organizations need to operate efficiently.

The unpredictability of the marketplace can make it difficult to plan for the future, and financial challenges are inevitable. Cost-saving measures maximize operational capacity and increase profits, while also ensuring that businesses persevere no matter the economic uncertainty or future market trends.

Maximize your company’s operational efficiency with a fleet card

Fuel consumption is one of the top operational expenses for small businesses with a fleet of commercial vehicles, with some estimates putting fuel at 60% of total operating costs. When optimizing a business and implementing cost-saving measures, every dollar saved from your fuel budget goes directly toward company profits.

There are a variety of ways to reduce fuel costs and mitigate unnecessary expenses, including taking advantage of rebates, partnering with a provider who offers savings beyond just fuel, and making use of real-time data that comes with pairing your fuel card with a GPS device and telematics program.

A fleet card program will provide your small business or government fleet with tools that improve your bottom line. By adopting the most optimum fuel card program for your company or government fleet, you can take full control of the amount of money you spend on your commercial vehicles and point your organization toward long-term success.

Learn more on how to better manage your small business:

WEX is a leading, global fintech solutions provider, simplifying payments and back-end business processes in the fleet management, benefits management, and corporate payments areas. To learn more, please visit the company’s About WEX page.

Apply for a fleet card today!

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration
Bureau of Labor Statistics
Transport Dive
The New York Times
Transport Topics
First Citizen’s Bank

Editorial note: This article was originally published on November 8, 2023, and has been updated for this publication.

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