Gas price spike challenges providers

Thursday, July 1, 2004

YARMOUTH, Maine - Few are spared when the price of gasoline skyrockets. Commuters to fleet operators all contend with the unpredictable nature of the service station snake.

The rising price of gas has prompted some security professionals to tack on an additional service fee, to group service calls or reduce the number of vehicles on the road –all in an effort to recoup costs or lessen expenses.

In a recent Security Systems News’ NewsPoll, 45 percent of systems integrators and installers who responded said that they have added a service fee, whereas 35 percent said they have not changed anything at all.

“Service tech’s spend more time in the office trying to help customers over the phone and to group service calls even if the customer has to wait another 12 to 24 hours,” according to poll participate Michael D. Colyott, general manager at Alert Security & Energy Services Inc., in Springfield, Ill. At 35 percent, most systems integrators and systems installers responded that their additional expenses only climbed modestly, from nothing at all to $150 a month. Whereas, 28 percent said they have suffered an additional cost of between $151 to $300 more at the pump. Just 17 percent said their expenses climbed over $601 a month.

“We have over 60 locations that deliver material throughout the U.S. We are spending more time scheduling deliveries to maximize cost, loading trucks to maximize cost, in some cases increasing delivery cost,” according to Bill Ullrich, director of technology at Master-Halco, who participated in the poll.

Despite gas prices hitting a national average of $2.05 per gallon, prices are expected to stabilize through the end of the summer, which is when Americans travel most by car. But a shortage of inventory is foreseen by the end of August, according to AAA spokesman Justin McNaull.

“Some of the businesses really being affected by this are taxi drivers, pizza delivery kids, florists; people who have a high frequency of trips that they make and operate in competitive, low-margin businesses,” McNaull said.

For those who make their living behind the wheel, staying entirely off the road is not an option. Mark Rodrigues, district manager for Titus Management Group, said it is business as usual. “We’re thinking a little smarter when planning roadtrips.” But, he said, “we can’t change the way we do business.”

Data culled by AAA found the national average of unleaded regular gasoline was priced at $1.98 per gallon, as of mid-June, up from $1.50 from the same period a year before. For four weeks ending June 13, national gas prices averaged above $2 per gallon for self-serve unleaded fuel, McNaull said.