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Fueling Success

AJ Nealey turned to Vistage Networks to deal with high gas prices and disgruntled team members

When fuel prices spiked in the U.S. in 2022, AJ Nealey’s leadership team voiced concerns about the financial burden. Each team member uses a personal vehicle to commute to Nealey Tire & Auto, an automotive repair company with headquarters in Edgewater, Maryland, and to make weekly visits to the company’s four satellite locations. The company’s furthest and newest location is in Rockville — a 45-mile one-way trip from headquarters.

“We had just opened the Rockville location, so our team was making the hour-and-10-minute trip multiple times a week,” he says. “They also began voicing concerns about the expense of travel to all our locations.”

I like to collect all the data I can, and Vistage Networks is where I can find information on what has worked for others without going through the trial and error myself.

Eager to find a solution, Nealey posted to Vistage’s Talent Strategies Network, asking for help. Within hours, he received eight solutions to consider. Suggestions ranged from gift cards to stipends and included input on how to make those various payments.

Thanks to the Network, Nealey implemented a fuel reimbursement plan the same week, enabling his team to continue working without any financial stress.

“I decided on a stipend system that pays the IRS rate — at that time, it was $0.65 per mile,” he says. “That would go into effect whenever the national average of gas is $4 or more per gallon.”

There was an understanding that the company would not reimburse employees for their daily commute. They calculated the mileage from each person’s home to headquarters and determined a base weekly mileage total. Employees also used an app to track their daily mileage so the daily commute figure was subtracted from the reported mileage at the end of the week.

Nealey is thankful he was able to quickly enact a plan to help his team and now has a structure in place that’s easy to activate “My top strength on the StrengthsFinder is ‘Input,’” he says. “I like to collect all the data I can, and Vistage Networks is where I can find information on what has worked for others without going through the trial and error myself.”

AJ NEALEY
Owner, Nealey Tire & Auto
Vistage member since 2021

Nealey says finding information on a wide range of topics and business trends is essential to running his business — even if the topics seem a bit far afield.

“I joke that my line of work is recession-and AI-proof,” he says. “AI won’t replace the two hands needed to change tires and work on cars. However, I believe that staying on top of significant trends like AI is important. So, I’m a part of the AI Networks discussion group to stay informed about developments and to find ways to use it to streamline the administrative side of the business.”

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