MIAMI BEACH -- Leading executives in the chauffeured transportation industry told LCT’s Leadership Summit recently that economic doldrums require operators to work smarter and get better informed.
The straight-talk panel at the Ritz Carlton South Beach in Miami Beach offered some blunt advice on managing fuel costs and labor issues while being skeptical of some green alternatives.
Led by Scott Solombrino, president of Boston-based Dav El Chauffeured Transportation Network and a former NLA president, the panel included: Dawson Rutter, president and founder of Boston-based Commonwealth Chauffeured Transportation Worldwide; Mark Munoz, president of Boston Coach; Ron Sorci, chief financial officer of Miami-based Aventura Worldwide Transportation; and
Craig McCutcheon, president of Rosedale Livery Ltd. of Toronto.
The most pressing issue facing operators nationwide is the price of gasoline, which has zoomed past $4 per gallon and likely will peak at $5 or beyond.
Munoz gave a quick checklist on handling gas costs:
1) audit fuel purchases
2) find cheaper locations
3) avoid full-service islands
4) use lower octane fuels
Rutter reiterated a practice growing more common in the industry in response to higher fuel costs: fuel surcharges. Operators should levy fuel surcharges, based on a sliding scale tied to the price of a gallon of gas. He also advised operators to maintain steady tire pressure since it saves on average two miles per gallon and keep tires from being replaced as often.
Sorci favors some high-tech approaches:
1) minimize idling
2) don’t overuse air conditioners
3) install controls to monitor fuel consumption
4) hire someone to handle detailed fuel monitoring per vehicle
McCutcheon mentioned that GPS data can save money through accurate, pinpointed information that identifies waste, usage patterns, and tracks maintenance.
“Most GPS systems monitor idling times,” Rutter said. “You’ll be stunned at how much idling time your cars have in one week.”
Munoz pointed out that substantially less fuel is burned at 55-60 mph than 75-80 mph.
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