4 Key Components of Fleet Planning Strategies
Source: FleetAnswers Fleet managers spend much of their time planning for the next stage of their fleet. From the purchase of new vehicles to the maintenance schedule good planning requires prioritizing the needs of the company and the fleet. When considering planning strategies, fleet managers must consider four key priorities.
1. The vehicles
The vehicles in your fleet are one of your top priorities. Your planning strategy needs to include plans for the types of vehicles you will own, the number you need and the way you will maintain them.
When selecting vehicles, you must consider several factors, including the size and carrying capacity, the type of fuel, fuel efficiency and emissions. Also, the type of work performed by the fleet must be considered. The vehicle that works best for a city fleet with all in-town miles will not be the same vehicle chosen by a service provider that serves multiple municipalities.
Managers must also consider the intended lifespan of a vehicle, and the plan for replacement. Whether or not that plan will include electric vehicles must also be put into consideration, as the cost of fuel continues to increase.
2. Replacement schedule
Your fleet needs a stated plan for when vehicles will be replaced, and that plan should be outlined and adjusted every time you bring a new vehicle into the fleet. The replacement schedule needs to balance your costs of replacement with the costs of maintaining an older or outdated vehicle. Before the recession, many fleets had a standard rule of thumb of replacing vehicles every three years and 60,000 miles, but tightened budgets have forced some changes. Averages are closer to 4 to 5 years now, with mileage less of a marker.
Your fleet's replacement policies may vary depending on your needs and budgets, but you need to have a plan. Failing to plan will leave you in a situation where you will not have money when a vehicle is not longer usable.
3. Energy efficiency
Efficiency is becoming increasingly important for fleets as companies have a greater desire to "go green" and fuel costs continue to be problematic for tight budgets. Planning strategies need to include clear cut guidelines as to how to best improve the efficiency of the fleet, with a long-term goal of lowering emissions and improving fuel economy across the fleet. Efficiency strategies may include:
- Adding electric or alternative fuel vehicles to the fleet.
- Using a car-sharing strategy for drivers.
- Employing better route planning to reduce trip mileage.
- Adding driver incentives for drivers who reduce mileage.
- Training drivers to use fuel-efficient driving strategies.
- Using telematics to monitor driver behavior.
As fuel efficiency grows as a priority for today's fleets, some are turning to alternative work arrangements. Instead of giving workers company vehicles and paying for mileage, companies are opting to let some work from home and avoid the costs of a company car. While this will not work for every role, and some companies will need to continue to rely on fleets to deliver products or services, it is an option for some.
4. Improved collaboration between departments
For a fleet to run as effectively as possible, it has to work in conjunction with other departments in the company. The fleet manager needs to be able to collaborate with human resources, marketing, management and the finance department to make effective decisions that support the business as a whole. Collaboration ensures that the funds are available for maintenance and replacement when they are needed. Your planning strategy needs to include clear-cut guidelines for this collaboration to ensure that the fleet manager retains the control needed over the fleet while also establishing a culture of communication with other departments.
When creating a planning strategy for your fleet, you must consider both your current needs and priorities as well as those of the future. Keeping these four planning priorities in mind will help you create a plan that is sustainable and effective.
Have different fleet strategies and priorities that you would like to add to this list? Please feel free to email them to me or write in the comments section below.