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Whilst we continue to focus on and monitor the affect the hosepipe ban is having on the landscape and garden industry, one can't help thinking that we've taken our eyes of the rising cost of fuel.

Diesel and petrol is at record highs and there appears to be nothing on the horizon to thwart or reverse the rise. Supply and delivery worries have conspired to continue to drive prices up.

A business running a single van doing 14,000 miles per year (assuming some personal use) is now £1,189.00 worse off than it was in the same period in 2009.

Let's say a one person business doing approximately 2,000 hours a year at £14.00 per hour. That business is now shelling out an extra 4% of its income Since January 2009 just to get to and from its work. The business is spending 10% of its income (£1.46 per hour) just to put fuel in the tank.

Incomes have stagnated

One might argue that to combat the rise in fuel and to continue to make a profit, all one had to do is put up their hourly rate. Well in an ideal world that's a very simple solution but over three years of recession has actually put prices under pressure and the marketplace has become very competitive.

All business owners can do is think about ways of cutting costs. Staying local by targeting work within a short distance of ones base is one obvious way to reduce travel costs.

Reducing fuel consumption can also help. Not overloading a vehicle - i.e only carry the bare minimum - cuts down on fuel consumed, as also regular servicing, correct tyre pressures and maintaining a steady speed too.

Of course if you are yet to purchase a vehicle or you are about to trade in an old one then look to get the smallest most economical vehicle you can.

Let's face it, with the government needing to slash the country's costs and raise revenue to pay off the debts from years of success excess, there's little chance that fuel tax will decrease.

What would you do to reduce fuel costs for your business?

More reading: The hidden cost of fuel

Data taken from Whatgas.com

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  • It is a killer - II'm spending about £80 a week, Thats up from 60 on the same round last year. I can-t rearrange my routes at the moment as my customer spread is pretty even accros my local area.

    If it rises another 20p this year as some seem to think it will, it will make me really consider changing my business model and limiting how far I can travel further.

  • I have started driving very light footed on the gas, the computer in my recently acquired van (Fiat Ducato) shows miles per gallon in real time I can alter from 25 mpg to 45mpg just by lifting my right foot for a second, still hard work though I now get around 5 mpg more than I did prior to using the instant read out.

    Every week some new expense, this week puncture on nearly new tyre, unable to repair as it had split the wires in the tyre, £30.00 on a branded part worn.

  • It all gnaws away doesnt it?  We had held our prices firm for a few years, becoming more eficient and smart to try and balance the books.  When VAT went up to 20% it cut our legs off from under us.  Still, we must plough on, it won't get any easier for a few years yet, but quality work, good customer service, value for money etc will always come through.................won't stop me moaning though!

  • PRO

    Thanks Phil for reminding us all of this, it had dropped off the radar with the budget, hosepipe bans and end of the tax year etc.

    I have always been light with the right foot but i am now leaving unnecessary equipment at home, planning routes better and not making special trips for one item. I try to go to the bank, fuel station, machinery dealer and other suppliers when i am passing.

    I have bought a full range of Pellenc battery powered tools which although were expensive, save me money on fuel. The battery can be seen as the cost of buying all your fuel in advance. You still have to charge it up but this is pennies for a full days work. For sure, electricity prices have risen but not at the rate of petrol and i charge mine overnight on a cheaper tariff. Pellenc do a solar powered charger but i'm not sure if it is worth it.

    I've stopped using a ride on mower on the lawns that really dont need it and only use it now for very large areas  with no obstacles. My honda HRH536 is just as fast on most of them and i have reduced my fuel bill for mowing quite considerably. It costs money to haul your ass about on a mower so why not walk and use the fuel in your tummy instead (its better for you).

    I have also reviewed power tool usage overall and tried to use hand tools where they are just as efficient as their powered equivalents. You would be surprised how often blowers are used to blow debris long distances when a rake or brush is just as fast.

    Oh and dont forget to use the fuel card when it is cheaper (most of the time for me).

  • good point stu  on the blowers - I now rake all debris out of borders before I do the lawn - so the mower can pick up leaves, any mowable debris is blown to the nearest grass to be cut - and I cut last on all visits now.

    I also have the revs on minimum on my mowers, Only upping the rev when the grass really needs it or its damp or wet.

  • PRO
    Good reminder to everyone Phil. Iv'e been thinking about this for a good few months now. I have 4 vehicles but obviously only use one at a time. A convoy HR 400, Nissan D21, Nissan Pathfinder and a Fiat Punto. I use each vehicle according to my work schedule, but my Convoy gets the most used, towing large trailer with my Ransomes 728 on it. I have taken the decision to do away with all my trailers and I have financed leased a VW LT 35 LWB Luton van. I will now transport all my ride-on's in the VW, saving the weight of the trailers. As the VW is as new, Im hoping to save on repairs also. My Pathfinder is a 3.5 litre V6 petrol and is a gutsy motor, so only really gets used in the winter. The wee Fiat Punto is a god send for scooting around in as it runs on fresh air. The Nissan D21 is very good on the mpg front but will be getting sold when I pick up the VW next week.
    Fuel prices will only be going one way for the next 3-4 years I reckon, so Im hoping by using each vehicle in a fit for purpose way, then I can hopefully cut down on my fuel costs over the coming years
  • PRO

    Brian, we've done the same and stopped using our trailers. We've also taken the roof racks off two vans that get used a lot on motorway miles. Not sure exactly how much it improves, but I 'feel' better for doing it !

    Also considering speed limiters ;-)

    The shock I recieved a short while ago when having to fill up one of vans from 'empty' was seeing a receipt that read £130 !!!

    That, gents really did bring it home !

  • Yes it's starting to hurt and affecting margins now.

    Diesel is 15p a litre dearer than this time last year...

    Rising oil prices keep pushing up price of chemicals, additives etc and yes, add the hosepipe ban plus the increase in cash in hand operators now and it aint good.

  • PRO

    How many use a sat nav for work?

    I think it's possible to recoup the capital outlay easily over the course of a year by taking the shortest route to jobs. 

  • You'd think so but given that a 'shortest route' is likely to take you either x country or round the houses, chances are you'll be changing up & down gears, lots of braking and using double the fuel. I think an average vehicle uses twice the amount of fuel in 2nd than 5th or something?

    Phil Voice said:

    How many use a sat nav for work?

    I think it's possible to recoup the capital outlay easily over the course of a year by taking the shortest route to jobs. 

This reply was deleted.

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