Linda Lindley has been Assistant Director of Parking and Transportation for Villanova University since 2011. As Villanova’s fleet manager, Lindley oversees the university’s 45-vehicle daily rental fleet of passenger vans and sedans that are used by Villanova faculty, staff and students.
Q: Tell us a little about your background in fleet.
A: I spent 24 years working for a car dealership before I joined the fleet department at Villanova. My background working with vehicles was useful because I understood the importance of preventive maintenance to the safety of the fleet and how warranties work. When I came on board, I was replacing a previous employee who was ill. I had to hit the ground running with only about four hours of training. I wasn’t sure I could do it but I found the Agile Fleet customer support team very easy to work with and the system was very user-friendly as well.
Q: What challenges were facing the university when you came on board?
A: Seven university departments had their own vehicles. The departments did not share between each other, although there would be times some departments had vehicles and others ran out. There was no tracking the usage or where the vehicles were heading or who was using them. I felt this was a safety issue because we didn’t have a handle on where our vehicles or students/staff/faculty were at any given time. Preventive maintenance was only done when a vehicle was due for an inspection, not at regular intervals as they should be. Also, when I arrived I asked how they handled billing, but no one really knew how billing was done or what it was based on, so accurate billing was another huge challenge. We bill based on mileage and this was not accurately or easily tracked. Another challenge was the low usage. At that time, the most a vehicle was used was once per day, but I knew that the FleetCommander system could enable us to use vehicles multiple times per day.
Q: How did you get the fleet under control?
A: We decided to consolidate all the vehicles into one rental pool centrally located at our Public Safety location and allow everyone in the university to have access to the vehicles via the FleetCommander system. So instead of just a few departments having their own vehicles, now the entire university can request vehicles online and use them to conduct university business. The system allows faculty, staff, and students to log in and reserve vehicles at their convenience, and they know they have access to a university vehicle when they need one. Also, now preventive maintenance reminders go out automatically on time when they are due, which is so important for the safety and longevity of our vehicles.
Q: How has your vehicle usage improved?
A: We’ve doubled or tripled our usage since we moved to the FleetCommander system. In the past, vehicles were used at most one-time per day. Now we are able to send vehicles out multiple times per day which boosts our utilization significantly. Also, instead of just a few departments having access to our vehicles, we are able to serve a much larger population with the same number of vehicles, essentially doing more with less.
Q: How do you manage users since as a university you always have people leaving each year and new people coming in?
A: On a yearly basis our Risk Management department gives us a report of the people that may not be coming back the next year and we easily remove them from the system. We also run a report of people whose licenses are expiring, so we can reach out to them for an updated license before (not after!) they pick up a vehicle. All of these procedures help us to have a safer fleet.
Q: How do people like the system?
A: At first they complained because it was new to them, but I set a goal of having approval rating of 90% or higher. The FleetCommander customer satisfaction survey tool helps us to gauge how people are feeling about the system, so it takes the guesswork out of it. Plus we are able to get feedback from people which is very useful. I’m happy to say our ratings are now at 90% or higher on every aspect of the system.
Q: What’s your favorite thing about the system?
A: It’s extremely user-friendly. I like the fact that I can access the system from my smart phone. If there’s an after-hours emergency I can get into the software from my house and reach out to contacts in the system as needed. It’s very easy and convenient. I don’t know what we would do without it. Also, it’s flexible enough so that some vehicles are set to be automatically assigned to drivers by the system. Some we prefer to assign ourselves to ensure the right vehicles are assigned for the job. FleetCommander allows us to do that.