David Drees is the Assistant Director of Administrative Operations at Frederick County Department of Social Services (FCDSS). He has supervised fleet operations for the last 12 years. Prior to automating, FCDSS's vehicle sharing system was managed manually, taking up 25% of a staff person’s time. This became a challenge when that person was not in the office. They also faced challenges such as tracking and managing keys, tracking vehicle odometers to comply with state-wide mandatory reports, and more. Today, since implementing their automated motor pool approximately one year ago, FCDSS uses fleet management technology to manage nearly 1,000 vehicle reservations. The Administrative Operations department is always looking for new and innovative processes that will enhance the internal customer experience and agency efficiency.
Q: How did your organization share vehicles before you automated with FleetCommander?
A: Our process was reliant almost entirely on one individual. When that person was not here, it was a challenge to carry out the reservation and key dispatching functions. Prior to automating, a person would stop by our office (which is on a different floor, not always convenient to the requestor) or send an email to request a vehicle. They would also fill out a paper request form. The emails, in-person requests, and request forms all had to be manually managed by our admin. Our administrator would decide which car is assigned to the request. Most people would not request vehicles in advance. There were no confirmation emails noting that a car was reserved. We would run out of vehicles about once a week. We knew we needed a more efficient system to serve our customers.
Q: How did you manage vehicle keys prior to implementing the key box?
A: Our keys were locked in a box and manually handed out by our administrator. If a person needed keys early or late, other arrangements were made to ensure the keys were handed to the person. People were required to sign keys out on a log sheet and do a pre-trip ticket, however these were not completed consistently.
Q: Social services workers need access to vehicles after hours, how was this handled in the past and how is it handled today?
A: In the past, if a social worker had a need to access a vehicle late at night or after hours, they were directed to go to the office to the “emergency box,” which has a combination lock. The supervisor would tell the driver the combination. They would take the key out and return the key to the supervisor the next day. Now, with our automated key box system, our social services workers have access to keys around the clock without having to interact with supervisors or make special arrangements to pick up keys. We are also able to keep car seats and other equipment in the same space for easy pick up and return.
Q: What are some of the other successes you've experienced by automating your vehicle sharing program?
A: The automated online scheduling and self-service aspect of the system has helped us be more efficient and better serve our case workers that need vehicles to do their jobs. Being able to offer online reservations and automated key pick up and drop off securely during non-standard office hours has been great. We can also capture odometers every time a driver checks a vehicle in when they return. This has helped us to comply with odometer tracking requirements mandated by the State of Maryland.
Q: How is your vehicle utilization?
A: Our vehicle usage statistics show utilization rates of 70% with some vehicles showing 100% utilization on all vehicle types. That’s a huge success for us because we can justify our need for vehicles based on data and not just a gut-feel.