Buying Trends Change with the Cost of Fuel
When it comes to rising fuel costs, it’s easy to think that it’s something that won’t affect you or your business. Sure you might not be able to go out and play with your UTVs or go to the lake as much, but that’s a personal crisis right? Not a business one.
As it turns out, if you’re cutting back, so is everyone else. Whether people know it or not, there are a number of lifestyle and driving changes that come with rising fuel costs. With diesel fuel topping $4 a gallon in California and on the rise in other states, you’ll see a number of business trends emerge.
One of the more obvious and direct results of rising fuel costs is that shipping will increase on virtually everything. Like it or not, we still rely on the trucking industry to get most parts from state to state and many of those parts will be installed on customer vehicles. Look to save money by placing large bulk orders, or if the company is close enough, by picking up the items yourself.
Another trend that you’ll see around the shop as fuel prices go up, are customer request for modifications that will give them better fuel economy. Older trucks will see some good mileage gains with timing increases and newer trucks can have shift points and timing modified within reason to see gains as well. Be ready to answer the question “How can I get an extra 2-3 miles per gallon out of my pickup?”
A number of years ago, when fuel topped $5 a gallon in some areas, there was a definite spike and secondary vehicles for diesel owners. Cars like the VW Jetta or SUVs like diesel Jeeps started popping up all around the country when 15 MPG in a diesel truck wasn’t going to cut it. Be prepared to work on these vehicles, or at least know how to do an oil change. Most of ’em are just smaller versions of diesel trucks.
Other than rent, fuel is a major cost for most people, which means that it’s a major cost for your employees as well. Expect some grumbling about cost of living increases to come about as prices go up, as so will the monthly cost of commuting. Don’t be surprised if employees ask for a dollar an hour more to offset rising fuel costs.
More Modest Mods
It’s unfortunate, but as fuel prices go up, the frequency of performance modifications usually goes down. Customers will be more worried about saving bucks for their next trip rather than buying a new turbocharger. This can actually work in your favor as well, because if the customer has already bought a secondary vehicle, that may just be the push they need to turn their normal daily driver into a sled puller or drag truck. If they don’t want to go the competition route, it might be a good time to sell them on hotter thermostats, a secondary fuel tank, an exhaust brake, or other items that help with overall efficiency.
Like it or not fuel prices are on the rise again, but that doesn’t mean that they’re going up equally, everywhere. We have included a link to the state tax on diesel for all 50 states which as it turns out varies wildly. If you are one of those people with a 50 gallon transfer tank it might actually be worth going to the next state for fuel. See how you stack up, and be on the lookout for the rising fuel trends that we’ve mentioned here.
Source: Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy