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Robyn Frankel, Frankel Public Relations
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OR Ned Maniscalco, Enterprise Fleet Management
By: Bryan St. Eve, Enterprise Fleet Management
When it comes to ordering new vehicles, business owners want to make sure they obtain the most competitive prices with the maximum available discounts, rebates and incentives. For businesses with mid-size fleets, this can be especially challenging due to the many stumbling blocks they can encounter on everything from ordering the right model with the right specifications, to receiving the most incentives, to selecting a fleet-minded dealership where vehicles can be drop-shipped.
That’s why using a fleet management company for acquiring vehicles is a best practice that can save a business both time and money. In addition to planning ahead to take advantage of various price protection guarantees on all models, a fleet management company may be able to help anticipate and manage supplier shortages or logistic delays that could affect a timely delivery.
Using a fleet management company to order vehicles from the factory can have many additional benefits. Based on our own clients’ experiences, businesses that order vehicles, rather than purchase from available dealer stock, save an average of 6.3 percent per vehicle. Other benefits include the following:
- Prices sometimes increase throughout the model year. Orders placed early will receive initial model year pricing and may include early order incentives if offered by the manufacturer.
- Ordering early, it is easier to obtain preferred vehicles, even if demand for those vehicles is high.
- You can work with the fleet management company to customize vehicles, ensuring that they meet the specific needs of your business, rather than purchasing a vehicle that has been built using more standard retail specifications. This also saves cost on the back end by cutting down on the purchase of after-market equipment.
- Aftermarket equipment can be installed prior to delivery of the vehicle, ensuring a complete work-ready vehicle at pickup time.
- You will generally also get a reduced price because you have ordered the proper vehicle specifications and colors upfront, rather than having to add options once vehicles are received.
- You typically are able to designate shipment date windows, based on your needs.
Ordering vehicles directly from the manufacturer requires six weeks to three months lead time for delivery. Increased lead time may apply to limited production models. Factors that can make a big difference in ensuring a timely delivery include having a strong relationship with the manufacturer and submitting orders that are complete and accurate. Changing specifications or a drop-ship location after an order has already been submitted can impact the production and delivery time of the vehicle.
Vehicles usually can be drop-shipped to any location in the country, and working with a fleet management company to select a fleet-minded dealership can make a difference in controlling expenses and creating a positive delivery experience.
Cycling Program Manages Acquisition and Disposal
Just as important as knowing when to order new vehicles is knowing when to dispose of older vehicles, a process known in the industry as “cycling.” Companies with commercial fleets know that negotiating the best buy on the front end is one way to manage costs, but money saved on the back end can also have an effect on your bottom line. Other factors can also influence when to cycle a vehicle out of a fleet, including the appearance of the vehicle, mileage, wear and tear, resale value and current market conditions.
A cycling plan saves money because of factors like future maintenance, and can also improve a fleet’s fuel economy because newer vehicles generally get better gas mileage. It can also help maintain the business’ professional image, as well as improve driver satisfaction and safety. The automotive manufacturers continue to make improvements to vehicle safety and fuel efficiency.
The bottom line is that planning ahead when it comes to both the makeup of a company’s fleet and knowing when to acquire and dispose of vehicles can not only save time, but can really make a difference to the business’ overall financial well being.
Bryan St. Eve is a Director for Enterprise Fleet Management in Louisville and can be reached at 502-458-3100 ext. 279. He is supported by an experienced team of veteran mechanics and accredited Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) technicians to serve the fleet maintenance needs of businesses with mid-size fleets. In addition to maintenance management programs, Enterprise’s services include vehicle acquisition, fuel management and insurance programs, as well as vehicle registration, reporting and remarketing. Visit the company’s web site at www.efleets.com or call toll free 1-877-23-FLEET.