The rising price of gas is not news, but business owners who rely on gasoline for their daily operations are feeling the impact in additional ways. Small business owners in industries such as artisan construction, landscaping, transportation, and agribusiness are among those facing the largest impact from gas prices. Today we are breaking down how these types of businesses use gas and the ways they can save while also minimizing risk.
Dependent on Gas
Many people drive to work and spend their day inside or near their office. Trade-related industries such as artisan contractors depend on gas-powered vehicles to conduct the vast majority of their business. A typical working day may include driving to different job sites in vehicles that are large, heavy, and not fuel efficient, but are necessary to carry important equipment, tools, and materials. Agribusiness workers need trucks and ATVs, combines, plows, and fertilizer spreaders to manage fields as well as transport livestock and supplies. When the cost of doing business in these industries rises, the effects are felt farther down the pipeline. The end result is felt by consumers as products and services become more expensive.
Ways to Help
- Vehicle Maintenance
- Switch to EV
Reducing the number of miles driven might not be possible, but making those miles more efficient is an achievable goal. Although landscaping and other trade work trucks tend to be full of equipment, perhaps some organizing can free up a passenger seat or back cab to allow workers to ride to job sites in fewer vehicles.
Maintaining an efficient speed limit and avoiding traffic could also help with fuel efficiency. It may not be possible to avoid traffic, but being sensible and driving conservatively can go a long way toward managing expenses for fuel and vehicle maintenance. For example, maintaining optimum tire pressure levels, performing routine vehicle checkups, and regular maintenance such as oil filter changes can help extend the lifespan of the vehicle and also improve fuel efficiency. Correct tire pressure can improve gas efficiency by as much as 3%.
This also extends to maintenance for tools as well. Farmers should make sure tools are sharpened, cleaned to remove debris and rust, and properly lubricated to extend lifespan and efficiency. New tractors are often shipped with tires inflated to 30 psi to reduce bouncing on the trailer during shipping. It’s important to adjust the tire pressure upon delivery for proper use. Bigger pieces of equipment like a disc harrow should be regularly checked for cracks and nicks and to ensure that the blade is still sharp. Improper maintenance will wear out the equipment faster and not produce optimum results.
A little adjustment here and there may not seem like much, but together they add up to benefits for the business owner in terms of performance and longevity.
With gas prices making headlines once again, electric vehicles (EVs) are gaining increased attention. The EV market is changing, many companies are expanding, and new competitors are entering the market. Several companies are experimenting with electric trucks, and some like Tesla and Nikola Motor Company are working on electric semi-trucks. In the farming industry, Soletrac has created the e70N tractor advertised as a 70-horsepower alternative to diesel equivalents. Electric vehicles are known for requiring less maintenance and, the obvious, no need for gas. New competition will help improve the affordability and availability of the technology.
Electric options among smaller tools, such as those used in landscaping, are currently seen as less powerful in comparison to gas-powered tools. But battery technology continues to improve, so keep an eye out for changes and improvements over the next 5-10 years.
Taking steps to improve fuel efficiency can accomplish more than lowering expenses for business owners. Your clients in the construction, landscaping, transportation, and farming industries have an opportunity to manage and reduce risks by taking many of the actions that also help to improve fuel efficiency. When tools and equipment are regularly inspected and maintained, the risk of accident and injury may be reduced. Maintaining vehicles on a regular schedule and focusing on proper operation and handling also helps to reduce the risk of equipment breakdown, loss and spoilage, and injury. Fewer claims translates into lower out-of-pocket costs for policyholders and improved premium costs and better policy terms in the long-run. It’s a win-win for your clients and your agency.