There have been a lot of changes in government and how we deliver fleet services in light of remote work, telecommuting, and changes in job functions.
Research is showing that as many as three-quarters of government workers are now working remotely in some capacity.
The way that these organizations used to use vehicles has changed. These days, most of the vehicles are at the central location where those employees used to work.
You may not have made the adjustments to the number of vehicles in the fleet, the type of vehicles in the fleet, or even where vehicles are located yet.
There's a lot of money at stake here. If you want to be a good steward of your taxpayers’ money, you need to modify your fleet to reflect the reality of how people are working today.
Virtual Visits are Changing Fleet Needs
So many job functions have changed. The social services team is now performing a lot of their visits all virtually, they're not driving to the homes.
Tax assessors do the same thing - their work is being done over the phone. They're using Google Maps. They're using other tools. Inspectors that are looking at a home improvement job like a deck or a hot water heater replacement are now actually doing those through FaceTime.
The need for vehicles has changed. We don't need as many vehicles as we used to. You might think that this means that you can get rid of those vehicles, but you cannot just take an inspector's vehicle away without providing an alternative. The same is true of the social service worker or the assessor. You must have an alternative.
A low-cost alternative is vehicle sharing. That's been used quite effectively across many different types of organizations.
Vehicle Sharing is the Future of Fleet Services
At the end of the day, the job of the fleet manager is to provide a vehicle. If you’re in charge of a county’s fleet, for example, your job is not to assign vehicles or provide specific vehicles based on preference.
How do we provide vehicles to drivers that need them for occasional use? What about remote workers, telecommuters, and virtual social services workers who occasionally need a vehicle to perform their job?
Providing a shared fleet using vehicle management technology is often the lowest cost alternative. Vehicle sharing technology is an easy way to provide 24/7 access to vehicles. It is a great alternative to an assigned vehicle that consumes a vehicle 24/7.
Vehicle sharing technology only provides a vehicle to the driver when they need it. And vehicle sharing systems provide you with all of the metrics you need to see exactly how many vehicles you need to meet the needs of your fleet drivers.
Finally, as employees return to work and need vehicles more often, your metrics will indicate that you’ll need to plan for additional vehicles in your centralized pool.
Fleet Services Case Studies
A great example of the benefits of vehicle sharing comes from Prince George's County, Maryland, and fleet manager Rick Hilmer.
Prince George’s County
Mr. Hilmer was aware of the financial benefits of vehicle sharing, but many of the county's vehicles were not shared. And those departments weren’t interested in pooling their vehicles into a centralized fleet.
In other words, if you had a department vehicle, you were effectively paying $300 a month whether you were using that vehicle or not.
Mr. Hilmer convinced those departments to move to a shared vehicle model by showing them trip logs from an unshared vehicle. He calculated how much those trips would have cost with a shared vehicle. The data showed that the cost savings were sometimes in excess of 90%.
Imagine — instead of paying $300 a month for a vehicle you rarely use, you switch to a shared model and pay $21 for that same month. The savings are that dramatic.
Because Mr. Hilmer was able to show real numbers to the department heads, he convinced them to move the vehicles into a pool. That's how significant the cost savings are.
The Value of Shared Fleets
Shared fleets are a great way to accommodate the gradual return of those who may have been telecommuting or working remotely back to the office.
Let’s say someone had an assigned vehicle but after the last year that assigned vehicle was sold off or reassigned because that individual was working remotely. When that worker comes back to the central office, you might consider going back to a one-to-one driver-to-vehicle ratio for every worker that comes back.
Chances are, however, that the job function has changed enough that that vehicle won't be used every day. A shared vehicle is perfect for that scenario.
It's very common for a shared fleet to have a ratio of 10 drivers to one vehicle. The demand for vehicles almost never lines up at the same time. Today, you probably only need one vehicle to fulfill the transportation requirements for every 10 remote workers that return to the office.
The city of Stanford, Connecticut, is another example of incredible savings from sharing vehicles.
The city of Stanford had 80 vehicles in its government center location. A new fleet manager noticed that there were extra vehicles in the parking lot constantly. Yet the departments to which those vehicles were all assigned would routinely say that they needed additional vehicles.
He moved 80 vehicles into a centralized pool and assured the departments that they would always have ready access to them. They had a self-service kiosk and drivers could access the vehicles 24/7. He assured them that he would watch the usage metrics to ensure that no one would run out of vehicles.
The fleet manager immediately took 20 to 30 vehicles out of that pool with no impact whatsoever to the drivers. He continued to monitor usage and was able to take that fleet down from 80 vehicles to fewer than 20.
Again, even though the fleet manager eliminated 60 vehicles, no drivers were impacted. That’s the beauty of fleet services.
The savings from sharing vehicles instead of assigning them to departments are tremendous. This fleet manager saved millions of dollars on a fleet of just 80 vehicles at a government center location.
Forsyth County is another great story of the savings available through vehicle sharing.
During the financial crisis of 2008-2009, the Forsyth County executive told the fleet manager that the upcoming year’s budget had been cut by $300,000.
How would they manage? Vehicle sharing was the answer.
They removed the assigned vehicles from the departments across the county and implemented four automated vehicle sharing kiosks. By implementing fleet services and vehicle sharing, Forsyth County was able to save in excess of $300,000 in that first year.
Further, every dollar that they removed from the fleet budget in 2008 and 2009 is a dollar that they didn't have to spend in 2010 and 2011.
To this day, Forsyth County saves about $4,000 annually for every vehicle that they eliminated back in 2008. And they still are providing every driver that needs a vehicle ready access to a vehicle 24/7. This is a simple and common example among many — what will the cost savings be in your organization?
To learn more about how fleet services are changing in government, check our Getting Started Guide on Fleet Services & Automation. To request a demo, click this link.