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Fleet Policy Compliance Crucial to Cost Control

Does your corporate culture encourage compliance with fleet policy? It should, because fleet policy is a crucial component of a company’s overall cost-control strategy. In my discussions with fleet management companies over the years, they tell me that the best managed fleets tend to be those that adhere to a written fleet policy. All too often, however, managers attempt to control fleet costs on the backend. The best time to control cost is before it occurs. READ MORE

Legitimate Concerns About Green Fleet Initiatives

Should the innovators of today, the market leaders of the next generation, create mobility based upon antiquated fuel? The long-term answer is no, but until then, we can’t hide our heads in the sand. There continue to be legitimate fleet concerns about going green. We can’t hope to truly “green” corporate America’s fleets (beyond simply being public relations statements) until these issues are resolved. READ MORE

Running Trucks Till the 'Wheels Fall Off' is Expensive and Counter-Productive

The cliché in fleet management is that trucks are kept in service until the wheels "fall off." In many cases, this isn’t too far from the truth. Typically, the more expensive the asset, the longer it will be kept in service, especially units upfitted with expensive auxiliary equipment. However, as study after study shows, extended truck replacement cycles often have the unintended consequence of resulting in greater long-term expenses and degradation in worker productivity. READ MORE

Policy Versus Guideline: The Trend Toward Flexible Replacement Cycles

Nearly all fleet-related expenses, both fixed and operating, are influenced by when a vehicle is taken out of service. A growing number of fleets are shifting to more flexible vehicle replacement cycles. Some fleets no longer call their replacement cycle a policy and instead call it a “guideline.” They want to reserve the right on determining when to take a vehicle out of service based on prevailing market conditions rather than predetermined mileage and months in service. READ MORE

Increased Upfit Volume & OEM Quality Holds Create Backlogs at Upfitters

Upfitters are feeling the pressure from the increase in the number of upfitted vehicles requiring a ship-thru, which is overwhelming some installers and body builders. Also, many upfitter-related OTD issues are the result of OEM quality holds. Oftentimes, upfitted units are held at the body company due to limited storage space at the assembly plants caused by quality hold backlogs. This prevents the release of upfitted units into OEM traffic for final delivery via ship-thru/freight re-entry. READ MORE

The Melding of Driver Safety and Fleet Sustainability Initiatives

There are many similarities between eco-driving techniques and safe-driving techniques. In fact, there’s a direct correlation between safe driving and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. It’s been proven: the safer the driver, the lower the GHG emissions. READ MORE

Game-Changing Fleet Megatrends

Within the context of fleet management, the concept of megatrends is used to identify economic and technological forces that can potentially alter our present-day industry in game-changing ways. Among the current megatrends that can potentially alter fleet as we know it are a higher interest rate environment, a higher taxation environment, leap-frogging technology, changing fleet demographics, and higher acquisition costs. READ MORE

Drivers are the Weak Link in License Plate Disposition

Although fleet management requires a strategic perspective, the reality is that it is a detail-oriented profession. The job requires paying attention to a multitude of details crucial to ensuring a well-run fleet. But, as the saying goes, the devil is in the details. A case in point is license plate disposition. READ MORE

FMCSA Seeks 445% Budget Hike to Increase CSA Enforcement

The Compliance, Safety & Accountability (CSA) program was developed to allow FMCSA and its state partners to contact more fleets and drivers, to use improved data to identify high-risk fleets and drivers, and apply a wider range of interventions to correct high-risk behavior. While admirable in its intent, CSA has created a huge impact on fleet management, since it applies to all trucks that operate interstate and require a US DOT number. READ MORE

Resetting Management's Future Resale Expectations

All good things eventually come to an end. So, too, will today’s abnormally high used-vehicle prices. Today's resale values are an anomaly caused by a decrease in used-vehicle inventory in the wholesale market, resulting from the extremely low sales of new vehicles from 2009-2011. You need to educate management that today’s resale values will decline. Otherwise, you run the risk of being management’s future scapegoat for declining resale values due to their misperceptions of the market. READ MORE

New Liability Exposure: Employee Drivers Using Medical Marijuana

Eighteen states and the District of Columbia have legalized medical cannabis (marijuana) or have decriminalized it. What are the fleet ramifications of drivers operating a company-provided vehicle while using medical marijuana under the care of a physician? What are the corporate liability issues if a driver with a medical marijuana prescription is involved in a preventable accident? Let's address these questions and determine what you can do to minimize your corporate liability exposure. READ MORE

Why Certain High-Tech Firms Favor Reimbursement

Historically, IBM was the largest company offering a corporate reimbursement program. In its heyday, IBM had more than 25,000 drivers on reimbursement. However, since then, there have emerged major company-provided fleets operated by hi-tech companies, such as Hewlett-Packard, Apple, Intel, etc.. Despite this trend, certain high-tech companies continue to be more receptive to driver reimbursement programs than company-provided vehicles. Why is this so? READ MORE

There's Nothing New Under the Sun

Since every aspect of fleet management revolves around money, reducing fleet costs is a constant, never-ending struggle for all fleet managers. The pressure to save money year-over-year is persistent for all companies, but extremely difficult to achieve, especially in an environment of rising costs. Many fleet managers are given fleet cost-reduction goals, based on a specific percentage, and it is up to them to figure out how to achieve it. The problem is many fleet costs are beyond our control. READ MORE

Electronic Onboard Recorders: It’s Only a Question of Time

The paper-based logbook system used to track hours of service (HOS) by commercial truck fleets is prone to driver manipulation and falsification. Even the FMCSA has stated that falsification of logbooks is widespread. By all accounts, the current system of manually recorded logbooks is a joke. Yet, despite this “elephant in the room,” the federal government remains unable to mandate onboard devices to improve HOS enforcement. Why can it work in Europe, but not here? READ MORE

What’s the ‘Tipping Point’ for Fuel Prices?

It’s Higher Than We Think

During the past decade, we’ve witnessed a steady escalation of fuel prices with forecasters extrapolating these trend lines to predict even higher future prices. What is the “tipping point” for the price of fuel before it starts to have a significant negative impact on senior management’s desire to operate a company-provided fleet? READ MORE

Great Executives Empower Their Fleet Managers

Exceptional leadership by senior management means inspiring and motivating fleet managers to become great fleet managers. These executives delegate responsibility (and authority) to their fleet managers and empower them to accomplish self-determined tasks needed to achieve corporate goals. They recognize the fleet manager is the subject-matter expert and are open to the new ideas they present. READ MORE

The Best Time to Control Cost is Before It’s Incurred

The best time to control cost is before it occurs, and the way to do this is by establishing policies and procedures that inhibit unnecessary spending. Fleet policy has wide-ranging cost-containment ramifications. For instance, defining who is eligible for a company vehicle, in effect, determines the size of the fleet. READ MORE

Green Fleet Initiatives Gain Momentum Despite Cost Constraints

Most fleets want to be environmentally friendly, but are often hamstrung by fiscal constraints when procuring greener vehicles. But, as many fleets have shown, where there is a will, there is a way to meet fleet sustainability goals, despite fiscal austerity. Since most companies replace approximately one third of their fleet vehicles each year, they can tailor selectors to favor more fuel-efficient vehicles, so long as they are able to fulfill the fleet application. READ MORE

Poor Truck Ergonomics 'Cramp' Fleet Productivity

A one-size-fits-all approach to truck specifications is an ergonomic minefield, which could have litigious consequences. In addition, there are increased field complaints about “less-than-ergonomic” upfit decisions. Besides health issues, poor ergonomics is also a key contributor to preventable accidents. Proactively resolving ergonomic issues can have a significant impact in reducing workers’ comp costs, improving productivity, and decreasing fatigue-induced driver errors. READ MORE

Will Fuel Overtake Depreciation to Become the No.1 Fleet Expense?

The recent breathtaking increase in gasoline and diesel prices gives us a reality check as to how quickly fuel can dramatically increase fleet operating expenses. With fuel prices at a near all-time high and ongoing strong resale values decreasing depreciation costs, will fuel costs overtake depreciation as the No. 1 fleet expense in 2012, as it almost did in 2006? READ MORE

Total Fleet Cost is Proportional to Fleet Size

Every fleet manager is feeling the pressure to reduce costs. The best place to have maximum impact is to reduce overall fleet size and/or modify vehicle composition. A fleet's total cost is directly proportional to the total number of vehicles in operation, which drives all fixed and operating costs, such as fuel, replacement tire expenses, depreciation, accident repair costs, etc. If you can reduce overall fleet size, all other cost categories will decrease correspondingly. READ MORE

Top Fleet Maintenance Trends for 2012-2014

The price of parts is expected to rise as raw materials and manufacturing costs increase. There will continue to be ongoing upward pressure on replacement tire prices, particularly for commercial trucks. Oil drain intervals will continue to be extended, especially as OEMs migrate to the GF-5 motor oil standard, which provides better wear protection. However, two-thirds of all fleet maintenance expenses continue to be PM-related, which requires relentless monitoring of driver PM compliance. READ MORE

Regulatory Activism Adding Administrative Burden to Truck Fleet Managers

Between 2001 and 2010, there were a record 38,000 new regulations published in the Federal Register. One sobering caveat is that these regulations do not include the even larger number of regulations introduced by state, county, and municipal governments, along with local regulatory agencies. Invariably, this multitude of regulations has impacted fleet management. READ MORE

Reduced Idling = Reduced Emissions

Until the advent of telematics devices, idling was not perceived to be a major problem for fleets. But once engine data was captured by fleets on a large-scale basis, it quickly became apparent that idling represented a significant and widespread problem. The amount of unnecessary idling varies by fleet, but some fleets have recorded idling as much as 35 percent of the time. Here's what you can do about it. READ MORE

Global Fleet Management:<br> There are More Similarities than You Think

Many of the challenges facing U.S. fleet managers are identical to the challenges facing your counterparts managing fleets elsewhere in the world. Many of these fleet trends extend beyond the U.S. and are offshoots of much larger global trends. Oftentimes, best practices in fleet management emerge from outside the U.S., which is good reason for you to familiarize yourself with what's occurring in other global fleet markets. READ MORE

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Mike Antich

Editor and Associate Publisher

Mike has covered fleet management and remarketing for more than 20 years and entered the Fleet Hall of Fame in 2010.

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