Good things are happening in British business
Find out how some of our customers have evolved their businesses in innovative ways.
Read time : 3 mins Added: 06/12/2022
It’s not just hauliers and taxis who take the hit from petrol and diesel price hikes: the impact feeds through to every business. But smart tactics can help to ease the pain.
For drivers, rising figures at the pump were among the first signs of the elevated cost of living. The oil market prices that drive transport costs may have dipped from the record highs that followed Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, but they remain volatile.
In October the cost of filling up a car with diesel rose by more than £5 to £1051, triggered by the decision of the OPEC+ countries to cut oil production. The increase was a further blow to business owners’ bottom line, who have been forced to decide between cutting journeys or passing this cost on to their customers.
For hauliers, fuel accounts for around a third of the cost of running a truck2. Soaring diesel prices pile pressure onto an industry already struggling with recruitment gaps. But the effects of fuel price increases don’t stop with haulage drivers.
Few sectors are immune as fuel prices are passed on from transporters to the businesses they serve. Food and drink businesses, for example, are around twice as likely5 as firms in other sectors to report additional transport costs, according to ONS research.
Routes to efficiency
What could ease the burden?
Additionally, more than a fifth of the distance travelled by European freight lorries last year was ‘deadhead’ mileage6 – meaning the trucks were empty, en route to pick up cargo or heading back after a delivery. This is a clear target for efficiency, but scheduling complexity makes it far from straightforward. A real solution is dependent on rival companies joining forces to collaborate.
Cut costs, cut carbon
By reducing road mileage, these kinds of efficiencies often have genuine sustainability benefits, supporting net zero carbon strategies. Some businesses are rethinking their models around this theme.
Rebellion Brewery in Berkshire, for example, has shrunk the radius of its customer deliveries from 70 miles to 30. Not only is this less expensive and more environmentally friendly: it’s also a taste boon for customers, since real ale should ideally be consumed as soon as possible after brewing.
Of course, not every business model is adaptable in this way. For many, an obvious solution is moving to more environmentally-friendly vehicles – from e-cargo bikes to electric cars. If capital can be found, the payback for such a switch can be surprisingly fast.
In the immediate term, while acute pressures continue, the ability to pass on increased fuel costs to customers can be critical to survival. It’s a difficult move, but presenting any increase openly, with a clear and direct explanation, can help to keep customers onside.