Determining which vehicles are right for your fleet begins with defining your company’s goals and objectives. Factors that influence your vehicle choices include:
- Why do you have vehicles? How are they used?
- Are current fleet costs too high?
- Is downtime problematic for your business/customers?
- Are you looking to become more environmentally friendly?
- How many miles do your vehicles travel each year?
Choosing the best company vehicles starts with selecting the best type of vehicle for your use. Do you need pickups or vans? Would a taller profile vehicle work better? Do your vehicles require upfitting such as ladder racks or internal shelving? Is your fleet of vehicles for a sales force? What vehicle works best for their use? Safety is another consideration; if your drivers travel through harsh climates, be it on icy or mountainous roads, you should select a vehicle with AWD.
Once you determine the type of vehicles you need, you can decide which make and model is best for your needs.
Vehicle Selection: Deciding on Make and Model
There are a myriad of vehicle makes and models from which to choose. Where do you start? This decision is generally driven by cost. Not acquisition cost but total cost of ownership (TCO). TCO includes acquisition cost(including fleet rebates), cost of operation (insurance, fuel, repairs and maintenance), less disposition value.
Some makes and models perform better as fleet vehicles because of fleet rebates and/or their resale values. Repair and maintenance costs, as well as reliability, also vary by vehicle make and model. What you don’t want in your fleet is a vehicle that may appear to be a low cost option but in the long run, ends up costing you more. There are certain vehicles that have a very low acquisition cost and may look appealing. However, if you plan to put 40,000 miles on the vehicle and reliability is important, that choice could cost you more in the long run due to repairs, maintenance, downtime, and the low value of the vehicle when it is sold.
For more on TCO read this blog.
If this sounds more complicated than you initially thought, you aren’t alone. All of the decisions can be daunting. Companies that follow best practices turn to fleet management companies to help them with their make and model decisions. One of the many fleet services offered by fleet management companies (FMC) is offering practical advise on which vehicles are the most effective for their needs. It is a time consuming arbitrage process but fleet management companies specialize in this and whittling down the vast list of options to one to three. You ultimately decide what is best for your fleet from the “best of the best” options.
New vs. Used Vehicles
A used vehicle may make sense depending on the current markets, however, in many cases, used vehicles don’t make sense for fleets. New vehicles often outperform used vehicles in the long run, although this may seem counterintuitive. Look at the lifecycle costs and depreciation rates for the vehicle. To read more about the value vehicles by model year, download this white paper.
Upfitting For Your Needs
Upfitting is a critical element of fleet acquisition. Pay attention to safety and payload implications when considering the specifications of a vehicle with upfitting. Not analyzing the payload and other safety standards can lead to critical consequences for you as the fleet manager. Pay close attention to physical attributes such as weight and balance when considering upfitting.
When you’re faced with an unplanned replacement due to an accident or other unforeseen circumstance, consider upfitter pools and out of stock vehicles to determine what fits your needs for the closest. And don’t forget the 85% rule. The 85% rule is an industry standard that helps protect the longevity of your fleet. If a vehicle consistently operates at 100% of capacity, you’ll see an increase in repair costs and a lifespan reduction of your fleet service vehicles. Operating at 85% of the max capacity is the operating standard for vehicles in any fleet.
Uplifting coordination and recommendations is another fleet service offered by qualified FMCs.
Branding Your Fleet
Branding your fleet can be an effective means of outdoor mobile advertising. Vehicle wraps can give your business tens of thousands of daily impressions for a single initial investment. Things to consider are the size of your image, the amount of text, and the call-to-action you’ll place on the vehicle. Sizing your image can increase brand awareness: The bigger the picture, the farther away people will be able to see it. It’s crucial to make your image clear and comprehensible.
Limiting text and including a call-to-action are vital elements of your branded vehicle wrap. The writing on a moving vehicle can be challenging to read, so make sure any words appearing on your wrap are concise and to the point. Try limiting text to your company’s name, logo and contact information. As for your call-to-action, include a web address and a phone number so that people can quickly learn how to contact you.
Most importantly, make sure the wrap is adequately applied to your fleet. Wrapping your vehicles isn’t a DIY job, and the improper removal of wraps (razor blades, heat guns, burned paint, and plastic bits) can elicit costly and detrimental results. You’ll want to make sure you choose a reputable company that can apply and remove vehicle wraps without damaging your vehicles.
For more information on vehicle wraps and fleet services available, click here.
Large Fleet Incentives
There are exclusive discounts qualified fleets can take advantage of that can net you hundreds to even thousands of dollars in savings per unit. A fleet is defined as a total of 15 or more vehicles in one business. One of the many fleet services your fleet management company provides is identifying which fleet rebates your company is eligible to receive.
Consider a Leasing Option
When adding vehicles to your fleet, consider leasing. Leasing can benefit your company in a variety of ways. It can free up capital, improve cash flow, and provide tax savings. To learn more about corporate leasing (as opposed to consumer leasing) click here. Not sure if you should buy or lease? This lease vs. buy analysis can help you through the decision making process. FMCs offer flexible options for leasing as one of their core fleet services.
From upfitting to holding periods, fleet acquisition can be a challenging endeavor for any fleet manager. The decisions made can impact many areas including your total cost of ownership, update, safety, resale value, just to name a few. Don’t take on the task alone: Outsource your fleet management woes to a fleet management company that can get you the right vehicles for the right price to fit your needs. FMCs offer an ala cart menu of fleet services from which to choose.