Your business operates at all hours, all around the world. Overseeing the complex global fleet, you are using your expertise to increase efficiency and effectiveness while also reducing your fleet’s environmental impact. Your fleet is regarded as a key contributor to your organization’s objectives, and delivering on that promise is critical. In order to ensure success, you need to maintain strong relationships with global suppliers and engage with a range of internal stakeholders across your organization.
Your greatest challenge in doing this may be establishing balance. For one, to obtain the fullest grasp of your operation’s performance, you have to enforce a global fleet policy. These prescriptive practices still need to accommodate regulations and priorities at regional and country levels. Above all, your global fleet management strategy must align with your organization’s strategic priorities and meet your customers’ needs.
You may think a balance of standardized and flexible approaches is out of reach. However, there are areas in fleet management where applying each method in a practical manner will produce success.
First, be flexible. To effectively deliver on the kinds of work your customers expect, you need to fit vehicle types to specific purposes. Before establishing generic vehicle specs, define the characteristics of the vehicle’s job:
- On or off-road?
- Low or high mileage?
- Weight hauled or towed?
To get real-world input, go to where your vehicles are. Ask the people who operate them. It’s also immensely important to ask the finance person who knows how much your organization plans to spend. If your vehicle wish list goes over budget, how and where will compromises be made?
Once you’ve confirmed you have the fewest specifications covering all vehicle needs, then standardize. Make these exact vehicles the requirements for all divisions, as they relate to their needs. Not only will you have control over your vehicle acquisition costs, you’ve also set employee expectations, strengthened company branding, and allowed for predictable maintenance and fuel costs. In addition, having the same fleet vehicles across the board gives you uniformity to benchmark costs and productivity for your entire organization.
Allow flexibility to let your division staff oversee tasks that require eyes or hands on the actual vehicles. However, it is a best practice to centrally manage vehicle ordering and upfit scheduling. Your staff should be coordinating the entire upfit schedule with the appropriate OEM build schedule. Plus, giving the OEMs a comprehensive look at your organization’s buying intentions for the year enables you to negotiate volume pricing. In addition, you have more assurance that vehicles will be coming in and out of service in sync. Also, they will be aligned with your organization’s overall operations and budget.
Then you should choose ship-thru vs. ship-to delivery with flexibility. By coordinating orders in conjunction with local upfitter facilities, you can streamline the process even further. For example, in the United States and Canada, ARI’s sister company and work truck upfitter, Auto Truck, has ship-thru contracts with OEM factories that are located in very close proximity to them. What possibilities are right next door at your global locations?
Compliance and Driver Management
If there’s one thing for certain about operating a global fleet, rules are everywhere. Laws and regulations are intended to protect your organization as well as the world outside. For this reason, most global organizations like yours have highly structured safety and the environment initiatives. It’s highly likely your fleet is tied into both. First, learn what’s legally required of your organization in each of your markets. Second, determine your business needs in each region. Then set your global fleet management plans to achieve both.
The best way to ensure your fleet remains in compliance with all regulations is to implement telematics technology throughout your fleet. This important fleet technology will also reduce the administrative work associated with tracking and collecting regulatory information from both vehicles and drivers. Again, be mindful to not apply what you know about your local market to a global mindset. Usage must comply with local laws as well as the union and workers’ councils that operate regionally. For example, while in-vehicle devices like cameras and regulators work well in the U.S., they can lead to legal troubles in other countries due to privacy regulations.
Practicality pays off
With a focused methodology for balancing standardization with flexibility, you can approach global fleet management as a systematic strategy that can be customized regionally. Selector management, upfitting and compliance are some of the topics ARI covered in our Deep Dive session at the Global Fleet Conference. ARI is happy to engage with you on a strategy to meet your complex fleet needs on a global level. Have a discussion with us and find out how we can work together today.