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Running your trucking business is no easy task. And, with fuel costs on the rise, operating independently becomes even more difficult. You’ve always dreamed about enjoying the freedom of running under your own authority — but, when the cost of taking a load outweighs the money you’ll bring home at the end of the month, what should you do next?

‍Luckily, there are some steps you can take now to take matters into your own hands. While we can’t change the cost of fuel, SmartHop’s Founder and CEO, Guillermo Garcia, draws upon his own industry experience to share some useful tips to help you navigate the months ahead.‍

Why are fuel prices so high?

On average, diesel fuel prices increased by over $1.20 a gallon in the United States between mid-February and mid-March. These recent surges have been driven by increasing fuel demand as more people resume their day-to-day activities following the coronavirus pandemic, in addition to supply chain disruptions caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

How will rising fuel prices impact my trucking business?

For owner-operators and carriers who run under their own authority, rising fuel prices can add additional strain to an already stressful operation. Guillermo explains why: “When I ran my own trucking business, I saw just how thin the margins are when you’re operating independently,” he shares. “With fuel costs rising and no fuel surcharge in place to protect truckers who are navigating the spot market, operating costs will rise, too.”

“Typically, fuel is about 24% of your operating costs, but today it is probably closer to over 30%,” Guillermo adds. “If the money you’re bringing in is not growing at the same pace as the cost of fuel, it will be challenging to make a profit. We’ve had an incredible two years of spot market rates where small mistakes were less impactful. Now, every decision must be planned carefully to avoid putting your business at risk.”‍

How can I save money on fuel costs?

While the cost of diesel fuel is beyond your control, there are several things you can do right now to save money on fuel costs and protect your business.‍

Choose your loads carefully

It’s always a good idea to choose loads with a long-term strategy in mind. When operating costs are more expensive, traveling to a weak market can quickly eat away at your earnings. Booking the load with the highest rate-per-mile might be tempting, but it’s important to have a plan in place to avoid wasting fuel on empty miles. Need assistance with planning? A dispatching service can help.‍

Plan cost-efficient routes

In addition to making sure you have a game plan for where you’ll find your next load, how you’ll get there is just as essential. Nobody wants to waste precious gas dollars sitting in a traffic jam. Fortunately, there are a variety of navigation tools that can help you avoid it. Beyond considering elements like traffic and miles driven, you’ll need to have a strong understanding of where you should fuel up. Price is an important factor, but you’ll also want to think about the fuel taxes in each state you’ll be running through (IFTA).‍

Consider using a fuel card

‍Fuel cards are an easy and impactful way to save money on fuel costs. There are a variety of options to choose from, each with different benefits and application terms. Our fuel card, SmartFuel, is accepted at most fuel stations and 45,000 participating service locations. Sign up today and start saving immediately, with same-day approval and a simple application process.

At SmartHop, we know just how stressful running an independent trucking business can be, so we’re here to help you earn more and stress less. Our dispatching technology brings together premium loads from the industry’s top brokers and load boards in one convenient place, with technology that predicts hot markets to prevent you from running empty. Give it a try today for free with no strings attached!

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