Managing the Financial Side of Commercial Fleets

How to Make a Quantum Leap in Driver/Employee Productivity

Cost savings is about more than simply spending less, it also doesn't require a degree in quantum physics to come up with new solutions. Here are some ideas that can help.

November 2011, by Staff

At a Glance

Several tools are available to help fleet managers make leaps in productivity, including:

  • Maintenance management.
  • Accident management programs,
  • GPS tracking devices.
  • Vehicle routing software.

Cost savings, spend management, expense control -- it doesn't matter what it's called, the goal is the same: increasing the bottom line. And, fleet managers are often called upon for their share.

Most commonly, the targets for these savings efforts begin with fees, prices, and costs that the company pays to its suppliers for their services. Knock a few dollars off the lease capitalized cost schedule. Get that maintenance management fee down. Grab a few more percentage points in subrogation. More rebate, please, Mr. Fuel Card Supplier. These things, of course, work, since the fleet market is brutally competitive, and there are always suitors looking to get business away from current suppliers.

Sometimes, though, there are things that can be done internally that will provide even more savings than "beating up" suppliers. Productivity - for example, getting drivers to do more with the same or fewer resources - can provide a quantum leap in cost savings. Here are some ways this can be done.

What is the Mission?

Companies provide vehicles to employees for any number of reasons. Sales and marketing staff utilize company vehicles for travel and meeting with prospects or customers. Service staff drive them to install, service, and repair products. Delivery drivers transport products to the customer. Whatever the purpose, define it in detail. Know what your drivers do, how they do it, and how the vehicle helps them accomplish the tasks.

For example, field sales and marketing staff generally travel regularly, calling on prospects and customers to sign up new business, and sell more products/services to existing customers. They are generally provided a geographic territory, which can be anything from a local region to several states. Field service drivers are also given assigned territories, within which they service customers and the products they've purchased. Understanding exactly how these territories are established, and what the drivers are responsible to do is the first step in any plan to increase productivity.

For instance, sometimes service or delivery drivers have routes, or standard areas with regularly scheduled stops. The more stops that can be made in less time, the more productivity increases.

Defining Productivity

As with any other item, one must define productivity to be able to measure it. Here is where the fleet manager can get help, from the driver function itself - sales, service, delivery, etc.

Field sales staff members are judged in any number of ways, generally coming down to how much they actually sell. Sales management generally sets goals (or quotas) for sales staff, either in dollars or in units. Their activity, however, is usually measured along the way. How many sales calls they make, either in person or on the phone, prospects versus existing customers, and so forth.

Logically, the more sales calls a salesperson makes, more opportunities for new business will be uncovered, and more business will be achieved. Also, the more of this output that can be achieved using the same or fewer fleet dollars the more fleet productivity is increased.

Thus, anything the fleet manager can do to increase the number or even quality of the sales calls that field sales makes will, in turn, help boost productivity, and result in increased revenues.

Much the same holds true for both service and delivery vehicles. The more service calls or deliveries a vehicle can make, the more productive the vehicle (and the driver) will be.

But, what is productivity? It is the ability to produce goods and provide services using the resources available; and fleet managers have resources, and opportunities, to provide drivers, their managers, and the vehicles they manage with tools that will increase productivity.

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