If filling up your car is one of your least favourite chores, you can avoid it by using a smartphone app that will bring the petrol pump right to your car. Ordering is easy via the app and is charged to a credit card. Provided a vehicle’s fuel cap is left open and unlocked, the Refuel driver can locate and refuel a vehicle without its owner having to leave their desk.

The brainchild of Craig Dogon and Ricky Luntz, Refuel connects fuel buyers to petrol stations.

Ricky says their initial strategy was to team up with corporates and office parks to bring convenience directly to office workers. “We are already partnering with several corporates and have extended our service to small business and fleet owners, and for owners of generators which need topping up.”

“When ordering, users have the option of choosing a specific rand value, volume of litres or to fill the tank. Time is a precious commodity and customers can now get some of it back. Another factor which influenced the development of the app is security and safety. It’s an unfortunate reality that fuel stations are a growing crime hot spot so there are clear security benefits,” says Ricky.

R20 service fee

The price per litre is the same as one would pay at a petrol station, plus a nominal service fee of R20 each time a vehicle is filled up. “We are partnering with several fuel stations to refill the delivery truck as often as necessary and with the same quality fuel as consumers will find at major filling stations. As such we are a complementary service to fuel stations rather than competitors.”

Technology matches the vehicle registration back to an order to ensure the right vehicle is always filled up. Refuel keeps customers updated throughout the process by letting them know when the refuelling truck is en route, and by sending a notification once the vehicle is refuelled.

Safety and security are paramount. Fuel is delivered via a custom-designed and built truck, complete with all necessary safety features, which carries both petrol and diesel. Drivers are fully trained and certified in the transportation of dangerous goods and have the necessary licences. The truck meets and exceeds all safety regulations and requirements and exceeds municipal guidelines for the safe storage and transportation of fuel. All tanks are certified by SANS and the City of Johannesburg’s fire department.

“The app was finalised just before lockdown but Covid-19 forced us to pivot from what was initially a consumer offering to one that has far stronger corporate focus, added to which we are now refuelling many fleets, bowsers and generators,” says Ricky.

Client oversight

There are clear financial benefits. By refuelling on site at the client’s premises, owners can take back control of the entire process which is often lost when refuelling at traditional petrol stations. Fleets are refuelled when it is operationally convenient for clients so there is no downtime while staff drive to and from petrol stations, and vehicles can be on the road earning productive business revenue.

Furthermore, the app offers full business intelligence reporting so fleet managers can view each vehicle’s consumption on a granular vehicle basis, making it easier to identify issues ahead of time. Via the fully digital automated system, petrol card fraud can be completely eliminated which adds extra weight to the cost-saving element.

Refuel is planning to add additional services such as tyre pressure and oil checks and may consider expanding the offering to residential users in time. In addition, the business is busy planning a new Refuel business app which will be downloaded from either Play or Apple stores.