First, what is a small fleet? For purposes of this piece, we define it as 50 vehicles or less. Companies have different approaches to managing their fleet. Some assign dedicated fleet managers, while others divide responsibilities among several employees. Many companies choose to outsource all fleet management duties to a third party.
All these options have their advantages and disadvantages and choosing the right one depends on your fleet needs and requirements. Let’s examine the ways you can manage your fleet efficiently.
One Job, Different Job Titles
At Doering, we work with companies that have dedicated fleet managers as well as companies that have a person who manages the fleet along with a plethora of other responsibilities.
According to a survey conducted by Business Fleet, 48% of fleet managers said that they handle most of the fleet tasks while 45% of them said that they handle all of them.
As far as job titles are concerned, they ranged from fleet manager to maintenance manager to administrator. The responsibilities, however, were pretty much the same. For those companies who designated one fleet manager to oversee all fleet responsibilities, the primary duties include:
- Vehicle procurement
- Fuel management
- Maintenance management
- Telematics/GPS system management
- Vehicle sale/remarketing
Those terms make the job sound “sexy”, but the reality is having to work with dealers with 300% staff turnover yearly!
Dedicated Fleet Manager vs. Shared Responsibilities
Other companies divide fleet tasks between several employees. However, it’s important to define roles clearly so they know their responsibilities. According to the survey, the top duties delegated to other employees included:
- Safety/accident management
- Driver management
- Tax/title and licensing
- Vehicle remarketing (not one to delegate)
Some companies have employees who have a mechanical background and can take care of some vehicle maintenance in-house. Major repairs are almost always done at third party auto repair facilities.
Companies with small fleets are also taking advantage of advances in telematics. Through telematics, they are able to stay on top of maintenance needs, reducing the likelihood of costly repairs due to poor maintenance habits. They can also use telematics for driver routing and safety management.
Outsourcing Fleet Management Duties
According to the survey, 60% of small fleets chose to outsource their fleet duties to fleet management companies. The numbers increase dramatically as company size and fleet size increase but the benefits are significant for companies of all sizes.
Doering was hired by a company that wanted to professionalize their fleet management function. According to Adam Berger, VP Sales at Doering Fleet Management, their core goals in hiring Doering to manage their fleet were:
- Fleet strategy
- Reduce administration
- Professional maintenance authorization and tracking
- True partners they can call for advice and one that will work proactively for them
They wanted a partner that fit their needs for service, their size, and one that had consistent staff. That was nine years ago and they referred Doering to eight other companies since then.
For a fleet of 20, Doering rebalanced the fleet, advised on right fit vehicles for their needs, implemented a fuel management program, and implemented a maintenance management program. They had a full-time mechanic. With salary, insurance, facility, benefits, and third party outsourced service, they were spending over $110,000 per year just to maintain 20 vehicles. Doering put them on a maintenance management program and brought the figure down to $480 per vehicle per year for maintenance… over 90% savings!
For a fleet of 50, Doering implemented telematics devices that achieved the company’s three goals:
- Vehicle tracking
- Tracking risky behavior and vehicle errors/alarms.
Doering began working with a company with a fleet of 40 vehicles that was with another fleet management company. They felt as though service was terrible; it took three plus days to get a return phone call. They were denied access to their maintenance data. The reps on the account changed every four months and the FMC’s service was failing to achieve minimum expectations. Doering came in, refinanced the entire fleet, migrated their maintenance data to the Doering platform, moved them from full maintenance (very expensive) leases to traditional leases with managed maintenance, saving the client over 60%. Doering also helped communicate the changes to staff with well-written memos that answered questions proactively before staff asked. Reporting was improved. Communications improved. Service level was consistent, pro-active and exceeded their expectations. They will be adding telematics devices and GPS soon.
Managing fleet costs while maintaining quality control and operational efficiencies is what fleet management companies do every day. Companies have had great success by outsourcing these fleet management duties to professional fleet management firms.