Published in Fleet World October 2010
Last month one of the large leasing companies held an event for their major clients and they were kind enough to invite me to deliver a keynote speech.
We agreed that my speech would be entitled “Fleet Excellence: Is it achievable?” which I thought would give me broad scope to talk about the whole gamut of issues surrounding fleet management. To start with, what exactly is “fleet excellence”? Does it exist? Is there any organisation that has organised the management of its fleet in such a way that it can be called a perfect model of excellence, something truly state-of-the-art that cannot be improved any further? Frankly, if such a fleet exists, I have yet to come across it: though I am not setting out here to decry the excellent work done by fleet managers, simply to say that fleet management is such a wide topic, covering so many areas and disciplines, that it would truly be something quite amazing if there was one fleet where every aspect was truly perfect.
In preparing for the speech I produced a list of all of the issues a fleet manager needs to understand and examine. There were 252 items on the list. Here is a brief summary, and I offer it a checklist for any fleet manager wishing to verify that they have considered all aspects of the management of their fleet.
Here goes: outright purchase, contract hire, operating lease, sale and lease back, contract purchase, finance lease, hire purchase, lease purchase, conditional sale, credit sale, fleet management, contract management, outsourcing, open-book leasing, loans, bank overdrafts, personal contract purchase, personal contract hire, accident management, driver training, motor insurance, other fleet-related insurances such as gap insurance, lease agreements, non-standard fleet management services, contractual lease concessions, sole supply arrangements, cash-for-car, employee car ownership schemes (ECOs), salary sacrifice schemes, the consumer credit act, vehicle purchasing, vehicle specification, vehicle maintenance, fast-fits, vehicle disposal, replacement/relief vehicles, fuel management , daily hire, fines, residual value risk, maintenance risk, lease mathematics (rentals, interest, lease v buy analysis, etc), lease accounting (including the new exposure draft), international leasing, telematics, environmental issues, fleet policy, cost-reduction strategies, staff motivation aspects of fleet policy, employment contracts, health and safety issues, light commercial vehicle issues, taxation and LCVs, minibus regulations, day-to-day fleet administration, vehicle registration procedures, rules and best practice regarding vehicles to be taken abroad, driving licences, fleet management reporting, fleet management software, e-commerce, the value of an in-house leasing company, journey planning tools, mileage reduction best practice, the management and use of pool cars, demonstrators, communicating with drivers, motor insurance database, cherished numbers, the employer’s and employee’s tax position, issues to do with different types of engine, manufacturers’ warranties, windscreens, vehicle scrapping, tyres … the list is endless.
Which leaves us with the question: fleet excellence, is it achievable? If by “fleet excellence” we mean arriving at the position where cost is minimised, there is no wastage, every employee is always happy with their company vehicle and the way it is managed and it would not be possible to make any further improvements, then no, I don’t think fleet excellence is achievable; there is always something you can improve.
I like to think of fleet excellence as a journey of discovery where the fleet manager looks at a situation, learns about it, takes advice on the best route forward and then makes a change for the better.
This means that to be an excellent fleet manager you probably need to have one attribute more than any other. A sense of curiosity.
Professor Colin Tourick