Monday, March 26, 2012

Here We Go Again!

Rising fuel prices.
     It makes my brain hurt just to say those words. It was only a matter of time before we were right back here again. The projected average fuel price for this season is about $3.92 per gallon according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. That translates to an increase in cost for everyone from the supply houses to the contractors and ultimately... the customer.
     There is no great way to offset increased fuel costs. Sometimes I wish I could break through the glass of my dashboard and just hold the fuel needle to stop it from dropping to "E". I haven't had to sit and come up with a strategy of how to incorporate these costs into my pricing and I hate the thought of doing so. It's hard enough to compete without having to raise my rates to accommodate my thirsty trucks.
     If we do sit around the $4.00 mark this season, I expect I will have to add upwards of 10% to all of my estimates just to cover costs and make the same money as last season. Most people hate to see fuel get more expensive but when you're in our line of work, it hurts even more. Take my Chevy 3500 Express Van for example. It averages 8 miles to the gallon and it has a 35 gallon tank. That means I can get 280 miles out of a full tank at a cost of $140.00 to fill the tank if prices hit the $4.00 mark. 50 cents a mile..... ouch.
     I average 400-600 miles a week depending on the service area. So, I usually tend to fill my tank in that truck twice a week at a cost of $280.00/week or $1,120.00/month. That feels more like a mortgage payment than a gas budget... and that's only one truck. I even try all the tricks like finding the cheapest stations and only using them, signing up for Irving gas cards so I can save 10 cents a gallon every few stops (subject to their silly limitations).
     I hate to say it but something will have to change and seeing that the gas station attendant doesn't seem to respond when I try to haggle his prices down no matter how much I bat my eyes, it looks like my prices will be going up as well.

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