Four Steps to Better Municipal Fleet Fuel Purchasing

When you work in government functions, doing less with more comes with the territory. Unlike the private sector, municipal agencies can’t just increase prices as needed, which is significant in two ways. First: raising revenue is not an option. Second: you can’t choose your customer based on pricing stratification. Every taxpayer or ratepayer in your municipality expects — and deserves — the same degree of service, whether it’s plowing snow, EMS response, or utility service. Adding to that pressure, every so often, a new administration comes in with a different agenda and different ideas of how to fulfill community service expectations.

Every city and town in America is dealing with a new reality: COVID-19 permanently changed which services citizens prioritize, while also decimating municipal budgets with sudden revenue losses.

In such an environment, it’s understandable that older, established ways of conducting day-to-day business persist; it’s an oasis of relative stability and consistency. On the other hand, that pressure can sometimes lead to evaluating current operations and seeing if there’s a better way to do them while staying on budget.

Take evaluating contract prices by paper; this takes time. It’s slow, which delays other parts of the work. And with the potential of emergency requests in government (e.g., a natural disaster), necessary paperwork can be delayed even further. In that light, anything that can speed up governmental processes benefits both your staff and constituents. That same principle applies to large contract purchases of refined fuels.


1. Timeliness

Are your reports received within an actionable timeframe of your purchase decisions? Or were they left on your desk yesterday? Depending on when you want to commit to lifting, you might not find an early morning rack price report useful. Instead, an evening update may be more advantageous.


2. Room to move

When evaluating a rack price benchmark for a public fleet, it’s important to have multiple options. Depending on the day, time, and a municipality’s needs, it may be better to select not the average, but a price slightly above or below it. Also, the report must be close enough to a lifting to ensure the product is available.


3. Prevent loss

The information also needs to be accurate; it doesn’t do the budget any favors to learn too late that you based your rack price report decision on skewed data. An example is individual pricing, where a seller posts their price as available to purchase, but it’s really only for one specific customer, and if you’re not them, the fuel isn’t available. Now, you must go back and see if the next best price is still available. That kind of investigation/question wastes precious time.


4. Trust the process

Of course, while this solution sounds enticing, it’s not like the average municipal employee can just whip out their credit card and buy something for their job. No, there are procedures to go through; due diligence to be done. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. It’s important to demonstrate that public funds are spent appropriately and judiciously. So, when it comes time to evaluate your rack price benchmarking tool, one of the most important considerations is to look for vendors who are patient, who understand the processes involved, and who will answer every one of your questions.


Make your job easier — and boost public trust

We understand the government purchasing process and are happy to share our methodologies and answer questions. Learn more about our solution today.