Software and services company FuelQuest has issued a set of guidelines aimed at helping petrol retailers operate successfully during the recession.

It states the importance of managing fuel purchases efficiently to ensure cash flow and stock levels are kept in check. The company has been working with independent analysts at Energy Management Institute (EMI) in the US to form the recommendations.

EMI expert Dominick A Chirichella says: "The time has never been better to work with a portfolio of purchasing options allowing one to fully take advantage of the normal daily divergences that exist between pricing indices, especially during times of high volatility. In addition to optimising one’s purchasing capabilities, it is an opportune time to begin utilising all of the risk management solutions that are available for hedging one’s upside price exposure."

According to FuelQuest, its Fuel Management System (FMS) gives retailers a competitive edge in the market, including visibility into all aspects of their fuel supply chain to help them make informed purchases for petroleum at the best possible prices.

It also helps retailers to organise deliveries in accordance with the stock levels of the forecourt.

FuelQuest president and chief executive officer, Matt Tormollen, says: "Despite the economic downturn and the price fluctuations, the petrol retailing market is continuing to thrive. Petrol is obviously a commodity that will have continued demand no matter what the situation.

"The challenge for retailers is to maximise their procurement strategies in order to achieve improved margins and make savings of up to a penny per litre when buying fuel."

The company suggests the following five simple steps in fuel management:

? Inventory management - reduce working capital, avoid stock-outs.

? Order management - at the optimal time and volume, every time

? Strategic sourcing - assess the best supply option on every order.

? Delivery and invoice reconciliation - ensure you pay for what you have received.

? Reporting and analysis - a real time view of what is happening.

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