Category Archives: Fleet Management

Maintenance Musts: Stop! Look! Listen!

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By: Bryan St. Eve, Enterprise Fleet Management

Businesses that have a fleet of vehicles need to teach their drivers to stop, look and listen when it comes to proper maintenance and minimal repair expenses.  That’s because over the last few years there has been a major shift away from generalizing the recommended service intervals for all vehicles to having very specific service schedules from every manufacturer for each make and model. Failing to adhere to specific guidelines established by the manufacturer may prevent repairs from being covered by warranty.

Among the most significant changes, many manufacturers have extended their recommended oil change intervals. Furthermore, some have even transitioned to intelligent oil life monitoring systems that calculate the oil change interval based on specific vehicle driving conditions. Extended oil change intervals mean drivers must take more personal responsibility for regularly checking the engine oil level when refueling.  Maintaining proper fluid levels can ensure optimum operating efficiency and maximum longevity of the vehicle, in addition to keeping the manufacturer’s warranty in effect.

Ignoring required maintenance can be very expensive. Instead of spending $50 for an oil change that requires minimal driver downtime, a business could end up paying thousands of dollars to repair a catastrophic engine failure for a vehicle that has a voided warranty and will be out of service for an extended period of time.  

While less frequent oil changes are good for driver productivity and the environment, there may be little to no cost savings because of the added cost of more advanced fluids required to meet manufacturer specifications and/or other required services that still need to be performed according to the maintenance schedule. 

Some service interval guidelines are based on how a vehicle is used, particularly for vehicles that spend a considerable amount of time idling.  The EPA suggests that one hour of idle time is equivalent to 30 miles of driving, which means engine hours must be considered when determining service intervals for these vehicles.

With these and other changes, it is more important than ever for drivers to strictly adhere to the manufacturer-recommended service intervals that are explained in the vehicle’s owner’s manual. It is equally important to pay close attention to maintenance indicator lights on the dashboard, especially those that light up when the vehicle is in “park” with the engine running.  Drivers should know that amber lights function as service reminders and red lights indicate system failures that require immediate action.

In addition, drivers need to stop, look and listen whenever they notice any type of change in their vehicle’s performance.  It is much more cost efficient to take a vehicle into a repair shop when a driver first hears a brake squeal than to wait for the brake pads to wear out, resulting in the need for rotor machining or replacing.

Besides helping to control total fleet spend during the lifecycle of a vehicle; proper maintenance can also positively affect the amount of retained equity at the time of sale.  Disciplined maintenance, quality repairs, and valid warranties all impact resale value at the end of the vehicle’s life cycle.

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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.

Choosing Vehicle Safety Features and Equipment

Enterprise Fleet LogoFor more information contact
Robyn Frankel, Frankel Public Relations
Toll free: 877-863-3373, rfrankel@frankelpr.com
OR Ned Maniscalco, Enterprise Fleet Management
314-512-5523, ned.maniscalco@ehi.com

By Bryan St. Eve, Enterprise Fleet Management – Builders Exchange Allied Member

On playgrounds children know that “bells and whistles” are used by their teachers to ensure their safety.  However, adults choosing safety features for a new car or truck need to be a little more discerning about which features may be more “bells and whistles” and which are really necessary.  More importantly, for businesses with a fleet of vehicles, decisions about safety features and equipment can impact the safety of every driver, as well as the total cost of ownership for each vehicle.

Some of the safety features worth considering when ordering new vehicles include:

  • Electronic Traction & Stability Control Systems – activate faster than a driver can react to help steer, slow down or brake a vehicle automatically in emergencies
  • Rear vision cameras – provide a natural view of objects directly behind the vehicle when backing up, as well as during parking maneuvers
  • Side blind zone alerts – utilize radar sensors to identify and indicate the location of other vehicles that might otherwise not be in the driver’s line of vision
  • Lane departure warnings – camera-based system that activates at speeds above 35 miles per hour to alert the driver when vehicle is changing lanes with no advance signal
  • Intelligent brake assist – utilizes radar and vision sensors to help driver avoid or lessen the damage caused by a front-end crash by automatically applying added brake force

While today’s safety features are more sophisticated and effective than ever before, choosing the right safety features and equipment has become a lot more complicated.  A professional fleet management company that is familiar with all the latest safety features and equipment across a wide range of manufacturers can help a business determine which features are necessary for individual vehicles within the fleet. Factors such as how vehicles will be used, lease terms, insurance costs and anticipated residual values are all taken into consideration as part of calculating the total cost of ownership.

A recent poll by the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers found that two-thirds of customers are interested in looking at the latest high-tech features aimed at helping drivers avoid crashes the next time they buy a car or truck.  The alliance’s CEO, Mitch Bainwol, said in a statement, “More than 90 percent of crashes involve driver error of some kind, so automakers created a range of driver assist systems that aid the driver for brief periods of time to help avoid an accident.”

There is little question that safety features are effective.  The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recently reported that electronic stability control, which automatically detects the loss of traction, saved 2,202 lives between 2008 and 2010.

But the number of choices, features and options is extensive and growing.  According to an article in Automotive News, “In many ways, the hardest part is choosing the features that help drivers and also are easy to use.  It’s not easy to keep from overloading drivers with features.”

Ultimately, all the safety equipment in the world cannot take the place of a good driver who drives defensively and knows as much as possible about the operating systems in the vehicle that he or she is driving. However, businesses with a fleet of vehicles can easily become overwhelmed by the variety of options and choices in safety features and equipment and end up paying too much or not getting the features that offer the best protection. Working with a professional fleet management company that understands your business needs and objectives can help choose the features that will benefit your business while avoiding “bells and whistles.”

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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.

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Better Than Reimbursing Drivers

Enterprise Fleet LogoBy Bryan St. Eve, Enterprise Fleet Management

For those who wonder how much better it could be to provide company vehicles rather than reimburse drivers who use their own vehicles, it’s easy to count the ways:  improved cash flow, reduced overall operating costs, improved safety, enhanced driver morale and more professional company image. Each of these factors is significant independently; together they present a compelling case.

A recent analysis for a company that has 80 drivers, who average 15,000 to 20,000 miles per year, indicated that about $100,000 a year could be saved by switching from reimbursing drivers to providing company-owned vehicles.  Although the calculation was based on a combination of hard costs – lease terms, monthly payments, maintenance and insurance – and fuel savings generated by having a fleet of uniformly fuel-efficient vehicles, soft costs also were a factor. For example, while some drivers were operating older cars that were not very reliable, resulting in more downtime, others were driving vehicles that were not very fuel -efficient.  In addition, for those in competitive industries, employee-owned vehicles did nothing to enhance the professional image of the company they represented, which impacts awareness among potential customers and prospective employees.

The advantages of company-owned vehicles begin with acquiring vehicles that are the right size, include all appropriate safety features and have uniform fuel efficiency.  Establishing a separate line of credit for vehicle purchases though a full-service fleet management company can eliminate the need to tap existing lines of credit to fund a rapidly depreciating asset. In addition, fleet management professionals can help ensure that vehicles are replaced at appropriate intervals to achieve optimum performance and resale value.

Operating costs can also be minimized with a company-owned fleet.  A managed maintenance program can monitor and ensure regular service checks, examine invoices, and arrange the most economical, timely and high-quality repairs for fleet vehicles.  This program also can yield maximum warranty benefits, rebates, price breaks and other opportunities to minimize expenses.  For example, a fuel card program can automatically monitor fuel purchases and mileage for each vehicle, while giving drivers maximum access to the most convenient fueling stations.

In today’s competitive marketplace, great looking vehicles are good advertising. In addition to promoting the company’s professional image in traffic and at job locations, having great looking cars can enhance employee satisfaction, which impacts retention as well as attracting the most qualified applicants when there are openings.

There are several options to reimburse an employee for using his or her own car on the job – actual cost, standard mileage rate, fixed or variable allowance.  However, a comprehensive cost analysis could show that none of these methods is as cost effective or efficient as providing company-owned vehicles.

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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.

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For more information contact
Robyn Frankel, Frankel Public Relations
Toll free: 877-863-3373, rfrankel@frankelpr.com
OR Ned Maniscalco, Enterprise Fleet Management
314-512-5523, ned.maniscalco@ehi.com

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Better Fuel Efficiency, Lower Interest Rates & Higher Resale Market Drive Need for Long-Term Fleet Management Strategy

Enterprise Fleet LogoBy Bryan St. Eve, Enterprise Fleet Management – Builders Exchange Allied Member

Any business with a fleet of vehicles knows there are six major cost elements: depreciation, interest, fuel, maintenance, risk management and taxes.  Not surprisingly, the ever-increasing cost of fuel is beginning to rival some of those cost elements, including depreciation, and less fuel-efficient older vehicles are the least cost-effective.

The good news is that there has never been a better time to begin to manage fuel expenses.  Not only are 2013 model year vehicles designed for maximum fuel efficiency, but record low interest rates and an unusually high resale market for used vehicles present an exceptional opportunity for businesses with medium-size fleets to take advantage of the opportunity to lower expenses.

But, without a long-term fleet management strategy, getting the most value could still be a challenge. A long-term strategy can help project financial targets for three, four and five-years down the road on everything from acquiring and disposing of vehicles to managing maintenance, risk management, warranties, and mileage, as well as the potential wear and tear a business will inflict on each of its vehicles.

A good place to start is to work with a professional fleet management company that has access to a wide range of makes and models of cars, light- and medium-duty trucks and service vehicles and has the ability and experience to identify the right vehicles and available options to meet the individual needs of a particular business. In addition, they may have the ability to forecast and analyze long-term cost structures to help the business hit specific financial targets.

Simple mathBecause a fleet of vehicles can represent a major cost, requiring a considerable amount of money up front and demanding a continuing amount of money, time and resources to manage, businesses that have a long-term strategy will do well.  Fuel is a good example.  Combined with inflation, reduced fuel efficiency could lead to as much as a 50 percent increase in annual fuel costs within the next three to four years.  This means that for a business just to maintain its current fuel budget it could ultimately be necessary to get the equivalent of 16 mpg from a vehicle that currently gets 13 mpg.

Today’s fuel reality is a growing concern for businesses that own and operate fleets of vehicles.

Not only can owning and operating a fleet of vehicles efficiently and cost-effectively translate to better customer service, it can lead to a more profitable bottom line and more satisfied employees. The combination of new increasing regulations on vehicle manufacturers to improve fuel economy and steadily escalating fuel prices makes it imperative for businesses to begin now to better manage fuel costs for their fleet of vehicles.

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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.

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