When most landscaping companies reach a certain size, they invest in having an on-site fueling station to cut out the time spent at traditional gas stations, but Serpico Landscaping, based in Hayward, California, took it one step further by partnering with Booster.
Booster is a same-day fuel delivery service that currently delivers fuel in Dallas-Fort Worth, the Los Angeles area, Nashville, Orange County, the San Francisco Bay Area, Washington D.C. and Seattle. The company says it is continuing to expand its service locations.
Serpico decided to find a smart fueling solution after dealing with fraudulent fueling activity sporadically over six years.
“Basically, there were certain employees of the company that were going to the gas station with their Serpico company truck and trailer, gassing up their truck and then while it was still active in pump, pulling away and allowing some of their friends or family to pull up to the pump and fuel up their vehicles,” says Peter Novak, president of Serpico.
Novak first noticed Booster thanks to its noticeable purple tanker trucks. With a background in logistics, Novak had been looking for a mobile fueling solution for a while for Serpico’s fleet of 60 commercial vehicles and more than 150 pieces of landscaping equipment.
“When I saw Booster, I said, ‘Wow that kind of looks like what I was looking for,’ and turns out after calling them and talking to them, it was pretty much exactly what I was hoping it was,” Novak says.
How does Booster work?
First, Booster will ask a number of analytics questions to get the data it needs, such as the crew counts, the number of stops made and travel distances of your fleet. It will then build a proposal based on these calculations. Booster charges per vehicle and a flat rate for the fuel.
“What they put together for us was, basically, we got to select three gas stations local to our business,” Novak says. “(We) pay the average cost of those three locations. They set that as our average cost and that’s a flat cost so that’s what we pay for fuel.”
While this price isn’t locked in and fluctuates with fuel costs, Novak says they still get a good deal compared to the current market since their flat rate is an average of the three gas stations of their choice.
“I look at what we’re paying Booster; we’ve got this nice, consistent flat rate,” Novak says. “And even when I add in the per vehicle fee for the month, it still shows us savings that we wouldn’t have realized if we were still sending our folks to the pump.”
Novak says that he wanted the fueling to be completely seamless so his crews wouldn’t have to worry at all about fuel. Serpico worked with Booster to develop a system so the fueling company would know which gas cans needed to be filled.
In the end, Serpico designated a storage area for the fuel cans that needed refilling. As for the trucks, Booster tops off all the vehicles, so employees have a full tank at the start of each day.
“All we do is return to our yard after the day’s work,” Novak says. “We park our vehicles. They come in late at night, we gave them access to our yards and they come in and they refuel everything. They refuel our gas containers for our equipment. They check our tire tread. They check our tire pressure. They check our windshield wipers. They do a quick health check on the truck and then they go to their next stop and we get a nice little report every month from them.”
Novak says he chose Booster over having an on-site fueling station like he did at a previous company because they pose a huge hazmat liability.
“When we looked at it, the cost around installing, maintaining and, in the state of California, certifying your own gas pumps, and then beyond that, the management and safety training that has to happen and certification were huge,” he says. “It was really a no brainer for us to basically sub it out to Booster.”
Benefits of Booster
Since switching to Booster, Serpico’s fueling costs have not gone up and the company has seen clear benefits in terms of service and unlocked route productivity.
Problems with fraud were eliminated as well since there was no need for fuel cards.
“That really takes away the opportunity for bad behavior when they’re not even involved in handling fuel at all,” Novak says. “There are no opportunities for those types of activities to happen.”
It has also removed the issue of poaching, as competitors previously would approach Serpico employees with job opportunities as they fueled up at gas stations.
“That wasn’t the main driver of our decision but it certainly was a factor that we were concerned about, and we are very pleased that it was a factor that was almost entirely eliminated,” Novak says.
With time no longer spent fueling up trucks and gas cans, Serpico has recovered 5,000 hours of employee time, which has been invested in training, improving customer service and optimizing routes.
This focus on training and customer service has, in turn, led to higher employee retention.
“It’s a really huge benefit to the company that you don’t know is there until you unlock that time,” Novak says. “Once you do, you see that it’s there and you can utilize it, and then it becomes real. That’s when you start seeing the effect.”
He says Booster can be hard to visualize on the front end but encourages fellow landscaping companies to trust the numbers.
“I think what somebody could expect is to get way more back in return than they’re paying,” he says.