Don’t be the Clark Griswold of Upfitting

For most of us, the summer is usually highlighted by relaxation and road trips to our favorite vacation destination. Whether your summertime tradition means driving to the beach to soak up the sun or heading to your favorite amusement park for some thrills, this time is usually our best chance to unwind.

But this summer, many of us are making different plans. Even as restrictions continue to loosen, many popular activities such as concerts and sporting events remain on hold and staycations are sure to be on the rise.

While a trip to your favorite ballpark might not be on the calendar this year, many fleet operators are in the midst of planning a much different type of road trip – their roadmap to recovery.

Construction in Progress; Seek Alternate Route

After months of disruption, the automotive supply chain is beginning to get back in gear but the unprecedented shutdown across the industry has skewed traditional ordering cycles. Some businesses were forced to cancel new vehicle orders due to financial uncertainty while others scrambled to find any available vehicle amidst the closures to keep up with increased demand.

Now, as we approach the traditional ordering season, many fleet management departments are faced with adjusting their acquisition strategy on-the-fly. And just like revising your summer itinerary, you’ll need to be mindful of avoiding costly spec’ing and ordering detours.

Here are three common spec’ing and ordering hazards that could cause you to miss your exit to recovery:

1.Basing procurement decisions exclusively on up-front costs

When procurement decisions focus on squashing initial acquisition costs, there can be long-term consequences throughout the vehicle’s lifecycle. In many cases, your vehicles are likely under spec’ed for their intended job function leading to safety risks, increased maintenance costs, unforeseen downtime, shorter lifecycles, and reduced resale value. Sure, the vehicle costs less to acquire, but how much are you ultimately paying down the road?

2. Not properly understanding a unit’s intended job function

Designing specifications is not a “one-size-fits-all” undertaking. Choosing chassis and components without carefully considering their daily environment and demands can lead to cargo overloading (or even underutilization in some cases), excessive fuel consumption, and unexpected repair costs. Understanding how your fleet functions will help you deliver vehicles that best support the success of your business.

Remember, developing vehicle specs isn’t just a fleet project, it’s an organizational project. Solicit input from other fleet stakeholders throughout your business, particularly your operations and frontline employees. Collaboration is key, so have your fleet partners join you in spending a day with technicians and managers in the field. Being as hands-on as possible can help avoid disconnects between what looks good on paper, and what’s happening on a daily basis.

3.Maintaining the status quo for too long

Do you set an annual budget to order the same number of vehicles each year? If so, you may end up with aged units in service far too long, leading to increased maintenance costs and downtime. Older vehicles can also pose a wide-range of operational challenges for your frontline employees, especially with job roles evolving faster than ever

Work with ARI and Auto Truck to determine an optimal replacement cycle for your vehicles, then align the cadence of your specification reviews accordingly.

Let Us Drive for a Stretch

While the COVID-19 pandemic may have detoured your spec’ing and ordering itinerary (and forced you to rethink summer vacation plans), don’t be afraid to pull over and ask for help. Now’s the best time to engage ARI and Auto Truck to ensure your acquisition strategy has you headed towards the right destination. Together, we’ll avoid the costly spec’ing and ordering detours – and maybe even make a quick pit stop at Walley World!