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Don’t drive to distraction

Driving always costs you time and money. Try these money-saving tactics instead. Don’t drive to distraction Driving always costs you time and money. Try these money-saving tactics instead.

Escalating gasoline prices affect small SOHO operations more than larger firms. It seems that the smaller you are, the more windshield time you put in and the more gasoline you burn. The last time gasoline prices hit levels near today’s, my old studio implemented several strategies to control overhead costs related to transportation. Here are a few that will help keep your “behind the wheel” costs under control.

Use messenger services. Sending a messenger instead of driving yourself can eliminate many unnecessary SOHO trips. There’s no doubt that face-to-face client contact can help build a relationship, but you can overdo it, too. You’ll be surprised to learn that even panic rush pickups and deliveries can be handled efficiently and inexpensively by a messenger service. Shop around for one with reasonable fees and a good reputation.

Work with vendors that deliver. Many suppliers will deliver their products directly to your office, studio, or home for free or for a modest fee.

Consider a fuel-efficient vehicle. According to the American Automobile Association, the average fuel efficiency has remained constant for the past ten years, hovering at about 20 miles per gallon. Driving a gas hog may be fun, but these days your gasoline card bills may exceed your car payment. If you’re going to run the roads, do it in a fuel-efficient manner. Why not make a visual statement and purchase or lease a hybrid vehicle like the 68 mpg Honda Insight.

Have client meetings at your office. Make meeting at your office more attractive so clients want to visit you. Spruce up the place, have the best bagels in town for noshing, brew some terrific coffee or tea to make your clients and potential clients feel at home. (Heck it just might be your home, so take advantage of the atmosphere.)

Plan ahead for supplies. Don’t wait until you’re down to the last staple before re-ordering. Just-in-time delivery may work for the big boys, but SOHOers need to be more productive than larger companies because more often than not, there’s nobody else to handle the small details. When you’re chief cook and bottle washer, you can’t wait until you’re out of Cascade.

Consolidate trips. Don’t make many separate trips; instead make many stops on one trip so your valuable time is used efficiently. Better yet, make better use of Internet resources to find and purchase supplies and products you regularly use on the Web. Remember, that big brown truck will deliver stuff right to your front door.

The key point to remember is that no matter what gasoline costs, when you’re driving a car, you are losing money. When you drive to a client’s location to pick up or deliver something or pick up supplies from a vendor, you’re not just adding wear and tear to your car and burning expensive gasoline, but are taking away productive time as well.

For eleven vehicle fuel conservation tips, visit AAA Ohio.

Contributing Editor Joe Farace has been a SOHO photographer and graphic artist for more than 30 years and drives a 2001 New Beetle that gets 34 miles per gallon.

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