Financial solutions company Comdata has a long history of innovating payments and assisting businesses with their finances. Recently, it launched a program, called MyFleet, that expands its fleet management offerings to smaller trucking firms and individual drivers.
“Comdata, for the longest time, was the premier provider for the large fleet space in fuel cards,” said Comdata President of North American Trucking Greg Secord. Large fleets are trucking firms with over 100 vehicles.
By Comdata’s estimate, over 97 percent of interstate carriers are small fleets — trucking businesses with one to 100 vehicles. Though they comprise the majority of the space, small fleets are historically underserved, said Secord — even by Comdata in the past. “We didn’t spend a lot of time in the small fleet space. It’s not that we didn’t service them, but we didn’t spend a lot of time looking for them.”
Comdata reached out to over 500 small fleets nationwide in order to better understand their needs. It found that, for one, small fleets don’t have anywhere near the buying power of their larger competitors. “Large trucking firms can take all of their purchases, go to a single or a couple of suppliers, and generally, you can negotiate some kind of deal in the market.”
Secord also noted that small fleets don’t have the same access to capital as large fleets. “Access to capital has been a challenge over the last few years for all small businesses in America. We provide businesses with capital in the sense that the credit card is the foundation of Comdata. If we could do that for the small fleet operator, we would help them be more competitive in the marketplace.”
Comdata estimated that small fleets spend about 30 hours per week on non-driving activities, such as compliance, acquiring permits and administrative work. “If you’re a large fleet, you have an entire division dedicated to getting you work, you’ve got long-term contracts with shippers, you’ve got steady access to jobs that will keep the wheels turning,” said Secord.
These hours of work further put small fleets at a competitive disadvantage, as administrative tasks often fall on the drivers in small fleet operations, including work surrounding International Fuel Tax Agreement compliance.
“We are the largest filer of International Fuel Tax Agreement taxes in the U.S.,” said Secord. “We have all of that tax data from the purchase, so we can provide it electronically. We can automate that process on their behalf, and they can take that time to be productive, look for work.”
The MyFleet Program works to bring all of the large fleets’ competitive advantages to small fleets. It’s essentially a portfolio of services that works to lower operating costs, access capital and stay compliant. “We’re leveraging the assets that we have to allow small fleets to compete and to have access to work that they otherwise wouldn’t have,” said Secord, “to bring some of the edges that the larger firms have in the marketplace to the small fleet operator.”
Joining the MyFleet Program gives small fleets access to pre-negotiated discounts on expenses, such as fuel, hotel stays and scale weighs. It also offers options for establishing credit, acquiring micro-loans and taking the work around permitting and addressing IFTA requirements off of small fleets’ hands.
And Secord said there are more benefits in the works. “We feel we’re really onto something. We’re trying to craft and augment MyFleet’s offerings and will continue to add things over the next 12–24 months that meet the needs and address concerns of small fleets.”