Regaining Control Over Your Fuel Data

Loretta Terranella & Bill Olson, DTN regional sales directors, February 23, 2018

As technology advances and business grows, you may feel like your fuel data is coming at you from a thousand different sources, in myriad ways and in countless formats. Streamlining and managing that data can change the game.

In the past, automation of fuel accounting processes was only partially effective and often cumbersome. That has changed.

Advances in technology can lead to faster responses to disruptions and significant efficiency improvements to your daily work.

It all starts with fuel prices
If your fuel prices are wrong, it impacts your quotes, orders, dispatch, invoice reconciliation, electronic fund transfers (ETFs) and more. You have to manually change prices when invoices come in and the rebills hurt your reputation and customer relationships. In short, the wrong fuel price affects everything in your operations.

With automation technology, it is possible to streamline the collection and management of fuel data. And with faster and more accurate fuel price data, greater productivity, deeper customer trust, and happier dealers can be attained.

Regaining control of your fuel data
There are many processes within the billing cycle that, when aided by fuel price automation technology, can help you regain control of your fuel data and operations as a whole. Invoicing is one prime example.

Invoices are a critical check point, but how much time are you spending pre-matching against BOLs, managing exceptions or dealing with supplier non-fuel invoices? By automating your price-to-invoice processes, you can reduce that time to a matter of seconds and stop the threat of errors or missed data. With automation technology that matches the invoice to your BOL, you are alerted to problems or discrepancies before the EFT comes in. The ability to override the product code can also aide in streamlining your processes.

Think about how many ways your suppliers bill you. Being able to override by document types, suppliers and terminals would prove useful, right? With fuel accounting automation technology, you can normalize the product code or terminal code by document type and make sure the normalization of product is carried through on all pieces of data, from the price to the invoice to the BOL. This consistency and efficiency made possible by overriding key information codes empowers you with uniform, easy-to-access fuel data for more efficient transactions. Uniformity is also important for your EFTs.

By tying together all data elements of the fuel transaction, you put your company in a stronger cash position. Automated EFT processes help you catch errors sooner, get your financials out the door faster and enable a smoother transition and better reconciliation against your invoice. Credit cards and their relations can also cause problems for your fuel data when unequipped with automation technology.

For example, your cash and your dealer’s payables are affected when credit cards are balanced. Errors are common when manually entering credit card reimbursements and accounting information. To avoid these costly errors, it’s becoming more common instead to use automation to balance the data. This enables the work to be completed in seconds, reduce report headaches, simplify loyalty programs, resolve chargebacks and automate dealer reconciliation. When done efficiently, this step promotes stronger relationships with dealers and customers – and saves you time, effort and money.

Saving the best for last, the BOL is arguably your most important document in the entire fuel transaction. It can be the source of some of your biggest headaches thanks to lost driver slips, illegible handwriting and slow manual processes. In today’s industry, finding ways to be slim and nimble without lessening output and revenue is important. Fuel accounting automation can empower you to format and normalize the data automatically, helping you to eliminate driver errors, process loads faster, invoice more accurately and improve tax reporting.

Fuel price automation technology can undoubtedly improve the efficiency of your fuel transaction process. The latest solutions offer unprecedented technology advances that support faster responses to disruptions and significant efficiency improvements to your daily work. But, these benefits will fall flat when missing one key component.

Aggregate your allocations
The improved processes explained prior aren’t possible if you don’t have allocation – and figuring out your allocations isn’t easy. A dispatcher or a pricing team may use different websites, so a driver can end up at a rack only to realize they don’t have allocation there.

To exercise more control over your fuel data you can share your allocation information with your dispatchers or carrier companies via an allocation viewer. Thus, all of your allocations can be gathered together on one screen, with allocations displayed by supplier and location. This one trusted source for all allocation information gives you improved driver efficiency, increased freight savings and happier supplier relationships.

Even more efficiencies can be gained by incorporating allocation status with your fuel prices. Automatic aggregation of your key fuel data allows you to view messages and live price information, scan the allocation summary of each supplier for a faster understanding of your options and ensure drivers are only going to racks which have allocation.

Conclusion
The game has changed when it comes to your data. Fuel accounting automation breaks down silos, cuts the risk of invoice errors and eliminates allocation mistakes. With these advancements, you regain control over your fuel data and strengthen your – and your customers’ – bottom line for the better.