The Secret to Success: The Importance of Long-Term Planning for Your Fleet
What is the single most crucial aspect to effectively operate a corporate vehicle fleet? Opinions vary that it is the ability to stay within budget or the use of data and analytics. However, after 75 years of operation and while working with a wide variety of fleets across various sectors, there continues to be one common theme: the most successful fleet managers are meticulous in their long-term planning. The following are three key areas that can set you up for success in developing a cost-effective and sustainable fleet strategy.
If you think that a vehicle acquisition strategy is as simple as purchasing a newer vehicle model, think again. An acquisition strategy is integral to your fleet’s long-term planning success and has many variables that need to be considered but are often overlooked.
Let us break it down.
A fleet looking to acquire a vehicle in its last year of production may face a weaker resale market for that specific model in the future. Or a fleet that has typically leased sedans in the past may elect to transition to SUVs, as the demand for those vehicles has increased in recent years. The punchline? Anticipating your future needs, planning around factory order cut-off dates, and staying on top of incoming and outgoing models are just a few of the considerations you need to prioritize. All these variables need to be accounted for before making purchasing decisions to ensure that your fleet is making optimal choices for the long run.
Vehicle Life Cycles
A forward-thinking mindset allows leaders to lay the framework for an organization’s future success when it comes to business. Fleet management is no different.
A vehicle life cycle strategy is an investment in the future of your business and is rooted in anticipating your fleet’s future needs. Often, we find companies having a “we’ll just play it by ear” or “we just run them into the ground” mentality regarding how long they plan to keep vehicles on the road. Of course, there is an economically and operationally optimal time to replace each vehicle in a fleet. Still, with no strategy or foresight going into these decisions, fleets are costing more time and money in both the resale market and maintenance shop.
The automotive industry is ever evolving and simply put: it moves fast. That’s why an organization’s ability to identify shifts in industry trends proactively will allow them to stay ahead of the curve and be well-prepared to react accordingly.
For example, the current proliferation of low or zero-emission vehicles coming to market means more manufacturers are introducing environmentally friendly cars in their lineups. Some are even pledging to eradicate internal-combustion offerings in the coming years altogether.
Fleet managers are challenged with the difficult task of developing long-term plans to adjust to this shift in the industry. Those who had their finger on the pulse or who were guided by the expertise of their fleet management company had a leg up in devising a game plan early on to help prepare for the challenges that will inevitably come with this transition. However, those who didn’t leave themselves exposed to potentially detrimental and costly repercussions should corporate initiatives or government mandates force the change upon them.
In addition to competitive pricing and reallocating day-to-day fleet burdens, one of the most significant benefits of partnering with a fleet management company is the support in long-term planning. Whether it be acquisition strategies, developing an economically sound vehicle life cycle, or recognizing and planning for emerging trends, working with dedicated experts will optimize your fleet’s performance and keep your team where they should be – on the road driving business results.