If your business is on the move, and even if it’s not, rising gasoline prices can spell trouble. Mobile businesses are clearly feeling the heat, but almost any business will be impacted by hikes at the pump. Earlier this year, the United States Energy Information Administration projected that gasoline prices could exceed $4 per gallon during the summer months. That unhappy projection is becoming a reality. If your business is transportation intensive, these cost cutting tips will help you cope:

Small Business Tips for Combatting Rising Fuel Costs

Consolidate – This sounds like a no brainer, but you can mine unexpected rewards if you do some strategic planning. Consolidate sales trips geographically. Carpooling may have seemed silly a few years ago, but today it’s an efficient way to go. Salesmen can be productive outside the office by using electronic tools to create a virtual office almost anywhere. Even if your top seller is piggybacking his afternoon call on an associate’s morning commitment, he can still spend those early hours constructively.

Work energy efficiently – From consolidating shipping loads to conserving gasoline by traveling during off-peak hours, explore some gas smart changes to your core processes. Have your drivers come up with new routes and suggest other creative ways to be more fuel efficient. Since they’re the ones on the road, their input is invaluable.

Find the next best thing to being there – Teleconferencing and emailing are cost effective alternatives to sales calls and face-to-face meetings. The technology is more reliable, and easier to understand and use than ever before. Even if your gas bill isn’t crippling your small business, you should be exploring these easy ways to harness new technology and save time and money.

Perform regular vehicle maintenance – Small things like keeping tires inflated and not carrying heavier loads than you have to can save money over time. Getting your vehicles checked and maintaining them on a regular schedule will save on gasoline and expensive repairs too. If you’re in the market to replace some vehicles, consider electric or hybrid options.

Get creative – From using big city public transportation in some locations to relying on bicycle messengers in others, there are probably gas and energy saving solutions out there you haven’t considered yet. A few of them may be unusual, like consolidating some of your supply orders with a couple of your business park neighbors to take advantage of volume freight breaks. Others, like sourcing suppliers locally to save on freight charges, are just common sense.

When gas is reasonably priced, it’s easy to think of transportation related costs as just rigid line items on an invoice. When costs escalate and gasoline becomes more than an incidental, attack increases with the same passionate attention as you do other aspects of your business. The procedures you implement (and change) now will help your business become less vulnerable to the national and international vagaries of gas prices today and in the future.