8 Building Blocks for Fleet Recovery Planning

Before COVID-19 came to town, your business had organizational objectives that your fleet operation played a critical role in achieving, such as budget compliance, productivity metrics, customer satisfaction, profit, and so forth.

In light of the pandemic, you’re likely now facing a vastly different budget scenario, your replacement schedule will need adjusting based on availability (and that budget, too), you’ve had to tune your preventive maintenance plans, and so forth.

So where do you start? How can you carefully balance your “then” with your “now” as you look ahead? This are questions posed by other fleet professionals just like you as OEM factories are reopening and a number of states loosen their shelter-in-place mandates.

Take a fresh look at fleet basics

Although “normal” feels like a lifetime ago in so many ways, as you build a fleet recovery plan, it’s still important to revisit best practice building blocks and original business priorities as you move toward your newly defined operating state.

While some practices may not be achievable due to current conditions, others will serve as beacons of normalcy for your fleet. Below are some questions to consider as you’re mapping out your pandemic recovery plan.

1. Financial Decisions

  • Is your fleet overseen by one team who enforces a single policy and uniform processes across the board, or do fleet management practices vary by region or leader?
  • Do you annually review and update your fleet management roadmap, or does planning occur on a more reactive basis?
  • Have you consolidated to a single fleet management company or do you have more than one company managing various aspects of your fleet?
  • What department does fleet report to – Finance? HR? Operations? Procurement? Risk/Safety? Sales? Itself? All of the above?
  • How much of your daily workload is spent on fleet?
  • COVID-19 Considerations: How have fleet oversight processes and funding decisions been affected by COVID-19? What was a short-term adjustment, and what needs to continue into the foreseeable future?

2. Supply Chain

  • Are your vehicle specs and upfits standardized based on job function and/or business need?
  • Do you review your selector annually to ensure the vehicles are still meeting your priorities for budget and performance?
  • How many vehicles do you get from dealer stock? Have you fully explored opportunities for OEM incentives?
  • COVID-19 Considerations: Do any of your specs need revision based on short-term utilization decisions and/or budgetary changes? How will you adjust your order quantities?

3. Connected Vehicles

  • Do you have telematics devices in some or all of your vehicles to track driver behavior, vehicle performance, optimization, etc.? What was the primary reason for this decision?
  • Are you able to see all of your vehicles and analyze all of your fleet expenses in one resource, or do you need to piece together data from various systems to achieve a consolidated perspective?
  • COVID-19 Considerations: Do any units need to be reactivated? How will the pandemic’s impact on your business affect any future telematics rollouts?

4. Driver Safety

  • Do you run Motor Vehicle Reports (MVRs) each time you hire a driver and then again annually? Do you then assign driver training based on the MVR?
  • Do you have a real-time method of assessing driver risk and assigning relevant training?
  • COVID-19 Considerations: How will personnel changes made during the pandemic impact MVRs and training assignments?

5. Cost Containment

  • Do you have controlled authorization of maintenance and repairs?
  • Do you control fuel expenses with card restrictions and fraud detection?
  • Do you allow employees to use company vehicles for personal use? If so, do you collect a personal use charge?
  • COVID-19 Considerations: Did you make any maintenance parameter changes in response to utilization fluctuations? Is this the right time to re-evaluate?

6. Vehicle Downtime

  • Do you coordinate new vehicle orders with OEM production schedules to ensure delivery when you need them?
  • Do you have someone checking maintenance purchase orders for excessive or redundant work on the same vehicles that takes them off the road?
  • COVID-19 Considerations: How will you adjust planned orders and replacements as a result of any short-term utilization and liquidation decisions?

7. Capital Forecasting

  • Do you enforce a formal vehicle replacement policy? What are the criteria you use for replacement decisions (vehicle selector, driving pattern, operation, etc.)?
  • Do you maintain a consistent annual budget for vehicle replacements?
  • COVID-19 Considerations: How will you adjust your replacement strategy moving forward? Do you need to revisit your funding options?

8. Vehicle Remarketing

  • What index do you use to measure your used vehicle sales performance?
  • Do you allow employees to purchase used company vehicles?
  • COVID-19 Considerations: Did you liquidate any underutilized or aged vehicles in the last few months? How will changes in the used vehicle market impact your remarketing plans in the next few weeks and months?

Build your new fleet foundation

With the right tools and partner, you can better position your fleet to successfully align with business demand, and identify opportunities to restore best practices where possible.

Whether you’re a fleet veteran or someone who’s suddenly found themselves in this new role, ARI can help you evaluate your fundamental fleet structure to ensure your pandemic recovery plan will optimize efficiencies, control costs and mitigate risk for your fleet’s future. As you’re planning for the coming months, weigh in on our newest Road to Fleet Recovery poll to share your thoughts and instantly see responses from other participants. We’ll continue to share daily updates from industry partners via our COVID Resource Center and email updates.