Depending on the business entity energy costs can have a huge impact on revenue and profitability
In a previous column, I discussed the impact of falling gasoline prices on consumers and small businesses. Depending on where you live, lower gasoline prices are saving consumers anywhere from $750 to $1,000 a year. In economic terms, this would be akin to a tax cut, something we can all benefit from. As the prices at the pump continue to remain low during mid-February 2015, small businesses are thinking big.
The U.S. Federal Government defines a small business as having under 500 employees. In my view, this remains an outdated definition as many small businesses start as sole proprietors and grow to perhaps 25 employees. These businesses feel the impact of even a few cents change in price, either upwards or downwards.
One sole proprietor I recently spoke to in preparation for this column, returned to delivering her homemade pastries to a major mid-western city she had earlier abandoned due to a rise in a delivery charge. Now that gasoline prices are lower, she reduced her delivery charge by 15 cents.
The result? Her due to the energy savings revenue has grown 25 percent over the last few months.
Many sole proprietors aren’t at the stage where they can afford vans so many of them rely on their personal vehicles to make deliveries. Between 2011 and late 2013 when gas prices averaged $3.50 a gallon nationally according to AAA, a typical delivery service radius shrank from 40 miles to 20 miles. With revenues stronger based on lower gas prices, some sole proprietors can now contemplate adding a new vehicle to their operations or enlarging their delivery radius.
Ways to Cut Your Energy Costs
One of the best ways to cut your automotive energy costs is to purchase or lease a new vehicle that is charged from a plug-in rechargeable battery. You may be eligible to claim the qualified plug-in electric drive motor vehicle tax credit, which can reduce your tax bill by up to $7,500.
With a smartphone and associated apps, small businesses can now locate the closest station with the cheapest price. One of the more popular apps is Gas Buddy.com.
The company started a few years ago by offering users the ability to locate the cheapest gas by postal zip code via desktop or laptop computer but has now expanded its market via a downloadable app. It also publishes its trip cost calculator allowing users to map out a route both one-way and return trip. Within the cost calculator functionality, users are provided with the distance, fuel used and even carbon footprint.