Great Idea #3 . . . two more to come!
"You can't manage what you don't measure"
Whether your community has 30, 100 or 500 vehicles, how in the world do you track all the dollars spent to keep each vehicle properly maintained over its lifetime? When a driver takes their vehicle to a shop and is presented with a $1,000 estimate that includes a long list of items, how can the driver possibly know for certain if everything on the list is really necessary? Or, how can you find out which vehicles in your fleet cost the least to maintain and which ones cost the most? During our RCRI workshop, we turned to one of our guest speakers, Mr.Geof Fowler, who is a VP with LeasePlan, the world's largest fleet management company that manages over 4 million vehicles globally. Geof commented that it all begins with having a system with the right tools and process in place to track and analyze information. He also highlighted three Best Practices . . .
The Right Person - The first Best Practice is to assign the role of Vehicle Coordinator to a specific person within the community. The duties may require a part-time or full-time commitment depending on the size of your fleet. The Vehicle Coordinator is the "go to" person for everything automotive who facilitates decision-making with drivers, leadership, and other key stakeholders. It's important to develop a detailed job description including a clear set of expectations. This person provides front-line support to manage your community's vehicles and the budget required to do so. It is no small task, and a common mistake is underestimating the time required to manage vehicles properly. Too often, this responsibility is handed off to someone who already has a full plate with the thought that it shouldn't take much time. Having the right person in this role, will help you to measure, manage, and finally gain control of the operating cost of your vehicles.
The Right Tools - Once you have the right person in place, Geof suggests to be sure they have the necessary tools to do the job. Many communities still rely on manual paper-based record keeping that typically doesn't provide useful information in real time so decisions can be made before money is spent. And, the arduous task of gathering, organizing, and recording hundreds of receipts for vehicle maintenance and fuel is very costly in terms of time and aggravation. Fortunately, today's software technology makes tracking and reporting your fleet's maintenance and repair history quick and easy. One available option is Microsoft's Access database program, which does require some customization and manual data entry. Another option, which requires no manual data entry is to utilize a Managed Maintenance program through a fleet management company. These programs charge a nominal monthly fee per vehicle, and the data capture, entry, and reporting is done automatically. The cost is offset by what the community saves in the hours of labor required to do all of this manually.
The Right Process - The third Best Practice Geof shared during the workshop is to develop a work process that streamlines tracking and reporting activity. Information about your vehicles isn't worth much if you don't have the right information when you need it. Looking at an expensive repair bill after the fact is like a sports coach looking at the score of a game after the game is over . . . it's too late to do anything about it. If you make the investment in a Vehicle Coordinator and a software program, the return on your investment will be determined by the accuracy of your records and the efficiency with which information is reported to decision makers. As an example, the Vehicle Coordinator needs to review expensive repair estimates before work is authorized to identify cost savings opportunities. What process will ensure this happens consistently? Management reports must be made available to decision-makers at specific intervals. Click here to see a sample management report.
We'd like to thank Geof for his insights and encourage everyone to implement these Best Practices that will help reduce the overall operating cost of your fleet!
Our specialists are available to answer questions and offer guidance on a courtesy basis by clicking on the 2016 Fleet Planning button, here.
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