August 7, 2017

Pharmaceutical Fleets are well known for progressive fleet management practices, including taking a systematic approach to developing their vehicle selector process. Element Fleet Management’s Annual Pharma Fleet Symposium shows how it’s done.

For 15 years, Element Fleet Management has been hosting an annual Pharma Fleet Symposium. The event brings Fleet Managers from across the country together to discuss a wide variety of fleet management strategies. CAF asked Angie Boutilier, National Account Manager for Element and Chair for the Pharma fleet event to expand on the importance of developing a consistent and effective selector process. “When people think of selectors, they just think vehicles but there are many layers that you need to peel back before choosing the right vehicle. At Element, it’s our goal to identify opportunities to make our customers fleet assets work harder while controlling costs. Developing an effective selector process is part of that mandate”

Element Fleet Management recommends the following framework fleet managers can use to build a selector guide which supports the organizations fleet objectives.

1. Revisit the Selector Process Annually
Reviewing the selector process annually helps to identify what changes should be made to ensure fleets are operating at the most efficient level. This includes looking at factors that decide whether a vehicle should be added or removed from the selector. For example, factors that lead to elimination of a vehicle include the brand of vehicle, its fuel and environmental impact, OEM concessions, total cost of ownership and advanced safety systems.

2. Complete a Life Cycle Cost Analysis
Doing a lifecycle cost analysis is a way to compare the capital and operating costs of a vehicle, along with its environmental impact over the course of its life. A lifecycle cost analysis takes into account direct costs such as depreciation and maintenance as well as indirect costs such as downtime. An analysis provides optimal timing for vehicle replacement based on anticipated use as well as looks at rebate incentives for specific vehicles. The goal is to develop a fleet replacement schedule that minimizes the life cycle cost of the fleet. Factors that should be considered include manufacturer support of the fleet industry, product availability and delivery timing, a well-developed fleet-minded dealer network, consistent pricing from coast to coast and the life span of the model and/or brand.

To help simplify lifecycle cost analysis Element offers apps as part of its software package.

3. Evaluate Selector Levels & Capital Cost Limits
Positioning of vehicles in a selector is often determined by cost bands, related to the level of employee eligible for a company vehicle, i.e. sales rep, regional manager and so on. In practice, the manufacturer’s option packages that can be selected for any make and model will have a significant impact on the final capital cost of the vehicle. For the 2018 Model year, several manufacturers have indicated that trim level content and packages are being adjusted to provide added flexibility for selector choices. Emphasis on safety-related features and driver connectivity solutions continues to be at the forefront.

4. Fit for Purpose
Choosing a fleet vehicle that is “fit-for-purpose” means that it should be the right vehicle for the job it is designed to do. Having a sound understanding of what the purpose is for a specific fleet will help fleet managers decide which vehicles are best suited for the job. Beyond driver feedback, a fleet manager can “ride-along” in a fleet vehicle to experience first-hand what drivers must do each day.

For example, vehicles considered for Pharma fleets need to be fuel efficient as drivers are required to commute long distances for sales calls. Fleet vehicles in sales are also regularly customer-facing and fleet managers must take into consideration the image the company wishes to project when completing the selector process.

On the other hand, jobsite trucks and delivery vans/trucks have different fit for purposes and require vehicles outfitted to fit their companies specific needs.

Ride & Drive events are an opportunity for fleet professionals to test drive the newest vehicles on the market, helping them find the vehicles that are “fit-for-purpose” for their specific company needs.

5. CO2 Emissions
A vehicles environmental impact is an increasingly important factor in the selector process, leading many fleets to add a minimum fuel economy standard to their selector list process. CO2 emission concerns are persuading more companies to add alternative fuel vehicles to their selector. These vehicle types include battery electric vehicles, plug-in hybrid electric vehicles and hybrid-electric vehicles.

6. Driver Feedback
Driver feedback should be encouraged as it gives fleet managers an idea of what vehicles are preferred by their employees and are the most optimal for their jobs. Driver feedback also includes identifying risky driving behavior which gives fleet managers the opportunity to correct unsafe driving behavior. This benefits both the employee and the company as it makes for a safer and more cost-efficient fleet environment.

Building the selector list is a major component of a fleet managers job. Developing a consistent and comprehensive framework for determining what vehicles will make the list goes a long way in meeting the needs of the business and the drivers who will spent much of their work day in them.

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