This is Part Two of a two-part Interview with Sally Compton, Fleet Operations Coordinator for Cornell Fleet Services at Cornell University.
Fleet expert and Certified Automotive Fleet Manager (CAFM) Sally Compton has worked over 5 years for Cornell Fleet Services, where they currently manage 5 motor pool sites sharing 250 vehicles and tracking 650 others. If you missed Part One of this series, which covered Fleet and Motor Pool Automation in a University Environment, read it here.
Part 2: Rolling out Fleet Technology at Cornell University
Q: What was the biggest factor that led to 35% reduction in your fleet and how did you do it?
A: Previously there was a set number of vehicles in the fleet. Vehicles came out and others went in, but that number stayed the same regardless of utilization. Once we looked at actual utilization by vehicle class, we were able to determine what vehicles were actually needed. We were able to dissolve one vehicle class that was mainly used during a 2-week period in the summer. Those reservations were easily changed to another vehicle class, which met the needs of the customers.
Q: What is the best thing the drivers like about the automated system?
A: Our drivers like that the system is easy to use and the fact that they can make a reservation anytime and from anywhere. There was a slight learning curve, but now we receive compliments on the ease of use of the system.
Q: What is the best thing you like about the system?
A: The auto-assign feature has got to be my top pick. Providing the driver has the correct access for the vehicle type they are requesting, they know immediately year/make/model/color/asset number/etc. of the vehicle they have been assigned. One of my predecessors physically looked at each reservation and manually assigned the vehicles. The day we activated this feature we had approximately 25 reservations that I did not have to manually look at it. The feature alone freed up so much of my time and the customers appreciate the instant confirmation.
Q: How has the ability to pick up keys after hours improved the quality of service to your customers?
A: Our customers appreciate that the system is easy for them to use and they have the convenience of picking up and dropping off vehicles 24/7.
Q: Describe the improvements you’ve been able to see on the reporting end of managing the fleet.
A: Our first success was being able to look at utilization and clearly see what vehicles were being under used. Armed with this information, we can easily make decisions about the fleet. Right now we are looking at the cancellation report to determine what vehicles types are being requested and the reasons for cancellations. This is important as we do not want to lose business because we don’t have the correct number of vehicles in a particular class. That being said, we do not anticipate being able to meet 100% of our reservation requests 100% of the time. It’s my understanding this is the sign of a right-sized fleet. We can use outside rentals to cost-effectively deal with high demand times. You don’t want to go overboard and have every type of vehicle that someone could ever need. That’s why it’s smart to use outside car rental agencies for overflow or specialty vehicles.
Want to hear more from Cornell’s Sally Compton? She will be a guest speaker during our upcoming University Motor Pool Webinar: Starting (or Improving!) Your University Motor Pool, March 2, 2016 at 2 p.m. Sign up now – limited slots available.