Last year we adopted a fuel bonus that pays both quarterly and annually for our top fuel performers. Why do we do this? You save us money…and we share the savings. It’s a win/win deal. It’s that simple. Isn’t it every company driver’s job to save fuel costs by improving their mpg? Certainly. All employees have the duty to save the company money. If they don’t are they really doing their jobs? But some excel…and they should be rewarded for the extra effort. What about owner operators? You are self-employed. You buy your own fuel. Your bonus is the additional profit you make by saving fuel. Every contractor can win.
It is easy in such a low price fuel environment to quit worrying about fuel. Yet fuel is, and will always be, one of the highest costs of running a truck. It is also one of the things a driver can control.
Let’s look at some facts. ACT buys around 5,300,000 gallons of fuel per year. That is a bunch. Pennies add up to real money. If a contractor drives 120,000 miles per year and gets 6 mpg, he will purchase 20,000 gallons per year. A contractor with the same miles that gets 8 mpg will purchase 15,000 gallons per year on the same mile for a savings of 5,000 gallons every year. Over the 4 year life of a truck that is 20,000 gallons saving. At $2, that saves $40,000. At $4, that saves $80,000. Big numbers for sure. Multiply that times 300 trucks. You can easily see why we are so focused on fuel. We currently are paying way below $2 per gallon. Not too long ago it was $4. I asked a fuel expert once what he thought fuel prices were going to do in the future. He smiled and said, “They will change.” He was comical but right.
Either way with gallons such as these, it doesn’t take much savings in mpg or savings in fuel price to make a real difference. Did you know that most all of our company drivers use our fuel optimization program? Did you know that only 30% of our contractors do? Our cost of fuel for company drivers at the pump is about 4 cents per gallon less than contractors because of this. Pennies matter. Don’t leave them at the truck stop.
There is some controversy about automatic transmissions. Some like them and some don’t. However, we see that if a low performing driver is getting in the low 6 mpg and we put them in an automatic, they jump to the high 7s without changing a thing. That is money we cannot overlook. Of course that driver could change their habits and get that and more. But some won’t do it. Trucks are changing every year and getting better. Drivers will need to constantly learn how to drive for mpg with new trucks. They all drive differently. Forget your old school cowboy driving. It won’t work today.
There are a few minor changes to our 2016 fuel bonus that takes different trucks into account. Even though a driver can get from 6 mpg to over 9 (as we have seen) in any of our trucks, some do better on average than others. So we have come up with three categories for the bonus.
Group #1- 2013 KW T660s and T680s
Group # 2- 2014 KW & Freightliner Manual Transmissions
Group # 3- 2015 (and newer) KW and Freightliner Auto Transmissions
Drivers in the top 25% mpg in each group with a minimum of 25,000 miles in a quarter and employed the entire time and at the time of payout get a bonus. There is another $2,000 bonus for the top annual mpg overall.
So what can you do to earn that extra bonus?
Slow down. Speed is a habit and frame of mind. Change it. You’ll adjust. Don’t get in a hurry. Relax. Don’t follow so close. Anticipate things up the road. Our high mpg drivers get great miles, safer and with a lot less stress.
Use your cruise. Don’t try to outsmart the truck computer. Let it do its job. You’ll not only get better mpg, but your truck will pull better too.
Keep tires inflated, including the trailer. Balance your load. Why pull a sled?
Keep the trailer gap as small as possible. Wind is mpg’s enemy.
Bobtail as if you were loaded. Don’t idle. Use your APU for its intended purpose, heating and cooling, not cooling that ham sandwich in the refrigerator, 24/7.
Talk with folks at the shop and other high mpg drivers to see what they recommend. Don’t stress out on the mpg for each trip. Look at the averages. All high mpg drivers get heavy loads, windy days and bad conditions. As long as I have been here I have always had drivers who get good mpg and miles and those who don’t. Guess which ones I think of as great drivers?
Happy and Smart Trucking!