Troy Beam, who has served as the Scott County, MN Fleet Manager for 18 years, offers an update on the savings and efficiencies the county has achieved since automating their fleet processes in 2013. Most notably, Beam discusses the county's significant reduction in payouts for personal vehicle use reimbursements.
Q: Tell us a little about yourself and your background.
A: I am the Fleet and Transit Manager for Scott County, MN. I have been here for 18 years, since the summer of 2000. Prior to that, a buddy and I owned a bussing and trucking company (18 buses and 150 trucks). We sold that in 1995 and I went on to be the General Manager for the company that purchased our company.
Q: Tell us a little bit more about the Scott County, MN fleet.
A: Currently, we have a fleet of about 300 vehicles/equipment ranging from snow plow trucks and squad cars to Ford Fusions. Approximately 90 of those vehicles are managed with Agile Fleet software. The vehicles we chose to manage with the Agile Fleet solution were chosen because they get shared across divisions, they don’t require any special skills or licensing to drive them, and they were ideal for increasing fleet utilization.
Q: Before you automated your fleet management processes, what were some of the challenges Scott County was facing?
A: All of the departments handled their own vehicles and they did not communicate or share vehicles with other departments. In addition, we paid out nearly $300,000 in mileage reimbursements. Going to an all-online vehicle reservation process ensures that drivers check for the availability of a fleet vehicle first. If there is not a fleet vehicle available, only then will drivers be allowed to use their own vehicle. This enables the county to cut way back on POV mileage reimbursement.
Managing keys was a challenge for us. Now, we use the automated key control boxes in three locations. The way it works is that keys are locked in place in a secure metal cabinet that communicates with the FleetCommander reservation system. After vehicle requests are made online, drivers log in to a kiosk near the key box and check out their key. The key automatically unlocks while all other keys remain secure and locked in place. When the key is removed, the dispatch-out time is automatically recorded in FleetCommander. We were happy to automate this process and not have to dedicate more staff to manage keys. It's much more efficient and convenient for everyone.
Q: What were the goals for your fleet automation project and have you accomplished them?
A: Our goals were to reduce mileage reimbursement by 65% which we have exceeded every year, it is now at 73%. The only exception was in 2016 when we had a safety recall on the majority of our pool vehicles and had to put them out of service for nearly three months. Our other goal was to reduce the number of vehicles in our fleet by 10%. Although we did reduce by 5%, we were also able to reassign vehicles for other departments that originally did not have access to vehicles.
Q: What are your top 3 successes since automating your fleet?
A: We’ve had quite a few successes since automating our fleet management. For one, our fleet utilizations is upwards of 80%. Mileage reimbursement for personal vehicles is down by 73% and we are saving about $195 000 per year in operating costs.
Q: What advice would you give a fleet manager in a similar county organization without fleet automation tools?
A: First, do your homework and find out the specific benefits of fleet automation to your organization. Next, get support from local officials and communicate the process from beginning to end. And, choose a software vendor that understands your needs and can articulate them and then make good on the benefits. I also recommend getting as much support from the users as possible.
Q: Anything else you’d like to share?
A: Yes, the team at Agile Fleet is always there when we need them. They have been extremely helpful to us reaching our goals and most importantly, their product works like they said it was going to. We have implemented a variety of software enhancements throughout the county and this one was, by far, the easiest and best one in terms of time, ease of use, training, installation, and above all, productivity.