This is Part Two of a two-part Interview with Kevin Rogers, Fleet Manager for Forsyth County, North Carolina.
Kevin Rogers is the Fleet Manager from Forsyth County, North Carolina. Forsyth County encompasses cities such as Winston Salem and is home to around 400,000 residents. Kevin took over the county fleet in 2008. The county had approximately 600 vehicles, needed better oversight of nearly all aspects of its fleet management. Their vision was to reduce overall fleet costs by sharing vehicles and creating motor pools throughout the county. Rogers was instrumental in defining the project and implementing a highly successful motor pool solution.
If you missed Part One of this series, which covered Fleet and Motor Pool Automation in a County Government Environment, read it here.
Part 2: Rolling out Motor Pool Automation
Q: So, obviously you overcame the objections to sharing vehicles. You now have a well-run, automated system in place. Describe how the system works today.
A: The reservation process works with users interacting with the FleetCommander kiosk and using the Grab-n-Go function primarily. The process is just like getting a boarding pass in the airport. Users choose a vehicle displayed on the kiosk, grab their keys from the secure key box and go. Our social services department has to start very early in the morning before the fleet office opens so this works out very efficiently for them. Reservations are also made online. One big bonus is that we can easily respond to citizen complaints because we know exactly who had the vehicle and when. We are now able to track parking tickets, who has the easy pass, etc. And of course we now have utilization data that helps us make decisions regarding the fleet management, fleet composition, moving vehicles around, etc.
Q: Can you describe the process of transitioning to the new automated motor pool system and how long it took?
A: The entire transition process took just over 100 days. We had to get electrical and network connections to the locations with self-service kiosks. The process of learning the software was straightforward and easy. We have a few sessions with fleet staff. Getting our users accustomed to the system was easy. Our drivers logged in to the General Services Administration site and see an on-line training presentation. Believe it or not, the hardest part was physically moving the vehicles to the new locations and getting the keys in to the key boxes.
Q: How long was it before Forsyth County started eliminating vehicles and realizing the return on investment?
A: We eliminated 30 vehicles and immediately saved $300K. It was pretty awesome. The capital expenditure savings of not having to replace vehicles is over $800k. We checked our utilization data daily, and within six months we eliminated ten more, and now we’ve gotten rid of around 50 vehicles. Now that we have a full view of our motor pool we’ve actually been able to put some additional vehicles in pools to accommodate county growth.
Q: What benefits did you receive from the technology that perhaps you didn’t even expect?
A: Everyone shares vehicles now… even the County Manager. We were surprised how extensive the entire motor pool and fleet management process is automated. No additional staff was required to run the motor pool. Billing is all automated which makes our business manager happy. In 2009 we were at $125K in personal vehicle reimbursement (POV) costs; now it’s about $57K. We have total visibility into the use of our vehicles. We know what our utilization is on a daily basis. We move vehicles around from one location to another to accommodate need. We can shrink and grow pools to meet demand.
Q: What are the top things you would recommend to a county fleet that is considering automating their motor pool?
A: I would recommend you analyze the financials and make sure you understand what can be reduced and the cost savings. Break down the barriers between departments and agencies and help them understand that everyone can share. Our County Manager drives the same car as everyone else. We’ve reduced the age of the fleet, in part, by purchasing newer vehicles using the money saved by sharing vehicles, and our users really like that. So, we’ve reduced costs by hundreds of thousands of dollars, while improving service to our users. It has been a win-win for everybody.