Jason Allen is the system administrator for the Scott County, Minnesota fleet. Scott County, located southwest of Minneapolis, has a population of 141,000 people and covers 365 square miles. The Scott County, MN fleet has six motor pool sites located around the county, all managed from one central location. More than 900 people share the vehicles in the 84-vehicle motor pool, and they have some assigned vehicles as well.
Q: One of the unique things about your organization is that you run the Agile Fleet motor pool system alongside other fleet systems. How did that come about?
A: Prior to 2013 we had a maintenance system in place, but we needed a way to share vehicles efficiently. We wanted to improve utilization and get better control of the motor pool plus reduce costs. We had cars all over the place, including old cars that never got used, and we didn’t know where keys were. We also needed to decrease our personal mileage reimbursement costs. At that time, we were paying out a quarter of a million dollars for personal vehicle use! Even though folks had access to motor pool vehicles, people weren’t using them. It was easier to use their own cars, but it cost our county 45% more to use a personal vehicle than to use the motor pool. And, we needed utilization reports to understand how our vehicles were used and what composition changes we needed to improve efficiency.
Q: You’ve been able to reduce your personal mileage expenditures by an impressive 30%, including all your operating expenses. That’s amazing. Tell us a little more about that.
A: Yes, before we put in the Agile Fleet system, we were paying $250K a year in personal mileage reimbursement. We needed a way to encourage folks to use the motor pool which is the most cost-effective option. The system had to be easy, otherwise, chances of it being used were very slim. The cost to use a motor pool vehicle is approximately 38-cents per mile, versus the county paying out 55-cents per mile for the use of a personal vehicle. As part of the change, we also instituted a policy requiring folks to first check availability of a motor pool vehicle before they could use and get reimbursed for their personal vehicle. As a result of implementing an easy to use motor pool system and policy changes, our mileage reimbursement went way down because people weren’t using their own vehicles anymore. Also, we realized that when they submitted personal vehicle use reimbursement, they frequently rounded up the mileage. When you have 900 employees rounding up their mileage, that adds up. We estimate we’ve cut at least 100,000 miles a year from our reimbursements now that mileage driven is accurately tracked in the system. No more rounding up.
Q: What other systems work together with the Agile Fleet system to share data and keep things running?
A: Data flows into the Agile Fleet system from our other integrated applications. We get odometers from our GPS and telematics, and since the two are integrated, we only have one system of record for mileage. We use our Lawson HR/payroll system to charge back for the use of the motor pool and to reimburse employees for personal vehicle use. When a new employee enters the system, Lawson automatically creates the new user into FleetCommander, and then I can assign security rights to them easily. Everything works together seamlessly.
Q: How do you enforce your policy?
A: The FleetCommander system enforces policy for us. We worked with Agile Fleet to configure the system to require an employee request a vehicle in the motor pool system before it would approve a request to use a personal vehicle. The system works by automatically verifying their request for a motor pool vehicle on the date needed. Only when that is done will the system allow an employee to submit a claim for personal vehicle use. FleetCommander has dramatically reduced the amount of personal vehicle use claims the county has to pay out.
Q: How did people like the new system?
A: They loved it because it is easy to use. People can reserve vehicles online and have access to keys 24x7. We knew that our motor pool system had to be easy to use, otherwise, people wouldn’t use it. And since it’s the lowest cost transportation option, we are saving taxpayers tens of thousands of dollars a year.
Q: You are managing 6 sites from one central location over a large geographical area. How challenging is it to keep the lines of communication flowing between the motor pool operations and employees?
A: It is important for us to be able to convey information quickly to our employees. Right now, everyone is dealing with this Covid-19 situation. When they log in to make a reservation, we can change our home page message and get updated information out to users quickly and efficiently. Everyone has questions about how they can use vehicles, how they are being cleaned and sanitized, and we can show all that information right on the home page and change it out quickly if we need to. It takes about a minute to do that and gives them the information they are looking for. Our drivers love how easy and convenient it is to use. We like that it’s web-based, and they can make a reservation anytime and pick up keys 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. We didn’t want to have an employee watching the system. Four of our locations have a self-service kiosk and key box where a user can come up, scan their badge, get the keys, dispatch out, take their trip, come back, scan their badge, and return the keys securely without having to interact with anybody.
Q: What tips do you have for others interested in exploring an automated motor pool system?
A: Understand your requirements before deciding between a legacy system and a new system. Work with a vendor that will listen to your objectives and help you achieve them. Also, tell others about your successes and help others to achieve similar success.