Maintenance is one of the highest vehicle expense categories for fleets. Fleet management companies like Donlen help professionals closely monitor their vehicles in order to optimize their fleet’s maintenance and generate savings through the more efficient use of fleet resources and vendor networks. Throughout the years, we have received many questions from fleet professionals as to how they can improve their fleet’s overall maintenance spend and we’ve offered our expert recommendations in return. That being said, here are six common fleet maintenance questions and their answers.
Why should I set lifecycle parameters for my fleet vehicles?
Setting cycling parameters for your fleet vehicles allows you to ensure that you get the most value out of your vehicles. Optimal cycling parameters vary by fleet depending on the vehicle mix, utilization, and fleet goals, but by setting and adhering to cycling parameters there is the potential for savings across several fleet expense categories, including maintenance and fuel.
Awareness of market conditions is important as the resale market can be very volatile and be impacted by a number of conditions such as fuel price. As a result, fleet professionals should work with their fleet management company and remain flexible and ready to shorten or extend cycling based on market conditions.
By setting optimal cycling parameters and factory ordering new vehicles, one Donlen customer was able to reduce its operating cost per mile (CPM) by $0.06 within a year, which represents an annual savings of about $860,000. The savings were the result of reduced acquisition prices through factory orders, increased gains from timely sales, and an approximate 6% reduction in maintenance spend. Vehicle downtime and cost of maintenance rental replacements were also both significantly reduced.
How can I best plan ahead to decrease fleet maintenance costs and vehicle downtime?
Predicting the needs of your fleet is critical to keeping your fleet’s vehicles in working condition and preventing unexpected costs resulting from a lack of proper maintenance. Work with your fleet management company to implement a preventive maintenance schedule that is optimal for your fleet. By planning ahead and keeping up to date with preventive maintenance, you can avoid some costly repairs.
One way this can be accomplished is through utilizing Donlen’s eCoupon preventative maintenance solution. The eCoupon is a tool that helps drivers adhere to maintenance schedules by sending them timely notifications, which alert them to scheduled or necessary maintenance services via their smartphones or tablets. This is important to fleet professionals as a properly maintained vehicle is generally associated with reduced unscheduled repair costs, reduced downtime, extended vehicle life, improved fuel economy, and higher resale value.
Why should my drivers utilize National Account vendors?
Utilizing Donlen’s National Account vendors for fleet maintenance and repairs has proven itself to be an effective cost-reduction strategy for our customers. National Account vendors are able to provide maintenance services at reduced costs and improved downtime compared to independent vendors, so fleet managers should closely inspect maintenance requests before authorizing service from alternative vendors. In fact, a recent Donlen study of more than 100,000 vehicles found that average scheduled maintenance repair costs for vehicles that utilized National Account vendors were 20% lower than charges for similar repairs performed by an out-of-network vendor.
Donlen’s eCoupon also helps to improve National Account utilization, as it is tied to our network of 20,000 National Account vendors and directs drivers to the location of the National Account vendor closest to them.
What action can I take to prevent drivers from purchasing unnecessary or unauthorized maintenance equipment?
At times, drivers will request additional vehicle equipment or specifications that they believe to be necessary to the function of their vehicles, such as snow tires or all-wheel drive. However, this additional equipment may not actually be necessary for the vehicle and could be needlessly increasing a fleet’s maintenance costs. In order to be certain that all maintenance purchases are absolutely necessary, drivers should be required to contact their fleet manager for prior approval.
Additionally, when purchasing parts for maintenance or repairs, Donlen customers have the ability to direct their drivers to Donlen’s Maintenance Call Center, which is staffed by a highly-experienced team of maintenance advisors, the majority of whom hold ASE certifications. Donlen’s maintenance advisors can provide recommendations and approval in order to prevent fleets from being overcharged by vendors who are looking to take advantage of unwary drivers.
What can I do to ensure that my drivers are following expectations?
Communicate your fleet expectations to drivers. Items like National Account utilization and preventive maintenance expectations should be clearly communicated in your fleet policy. Drivers should also be held responsible for maintaining and reporting their vehicle’s condition. By being upfront with your drivers about your company’s expectations for the maintenance of their vehicles and holding drivers accountable, you can improve compliance with cost effective strategies.
How else can I increase maintenance savings within my fleet?
Start by reviewing exception reports to identify excess spend within your fleet. You may also work with strategic consultants at fleet management companies like Donlen who can pinpoint areas of excess or unnecessary spending in order to generate savings.
Fleet professionals may also increase savings by managing vehicle depreciation. The best way to manage vehicle depreciation is by adhering to maintenance schedules. If scheduled maintenance requirements are not met, vehicle condition and components such as brakes, tires, and drivetrain will deteriorate more quickly. By adhering to a proper maintenance schedule and keeping a detailed maintenance history, fleet professionals may increase their vehicle’s resale value, thereby netting a better return.
By establishing and adhering to cycling parameters, utilizing National Account vendors, planning ahead, ensuring that all maintenance costs are absolutely necessary, communicating your fleet expectations to drivers, identifying areas of excess spending, and adhering to a proper maintenance schedule, you can control your maintenance spend and get the most out of your fleet vehicles.