Tacoma Overhauls its Accident Management Program

After reinventing its accident management program and moving to automated reporting, the City of Tacoma, Wash., dramatically improved customer service ratings and lowered fleet operating costs.

January 2010, Government Fleet - Feature

by Cheryl Knight - Also by this author

Harley Davidson motorcycles were deployed by the Tacoma Police Department in 2006.

The third-largest city in Washington state, the City of Tacoma incorporated in 1884, growing from its historical roots as a home of sawmills and a bustling port that exported goods around the world to a center for international exports, the arts, and affordable living. Today, more than 203,400 residents live in Tacoma.

The City’s fleet team manages 1,100 vehicles and pieces of equipment, as well as 200-plus units from other cities and jurisdictions.

When Fred Chun, fleet services manager for the City of Tacoma’s general government fleet, arrived in Tacoma more than three years ago, Fleet Services was evaluated by its customers as barely meeting their expectations. Customers had a total lack of trust with the department.

“While our staff was providing quality services, fleet needed to become more transparent to work with the customers and respond to their actual needs rather than what we thought they needed,” Chun said.

Processes implemented since Chun joined the team include monthly customer meetings, refunds for re-work or mistaken repairs, customer reviews, and definitions for customer equipment specifications. The bottom line for Tacoma Fleet Services was to completely communicate its processes, successes, failures, and costs.

“Currently, our annual customer survey revealed that we’ve reached a 90-percent Excellent Service Rating,” Chun noted.

City Leaves State Accident Management Contract
The City took another bold move in 2008 after re-examining its accident management services. Breaking away from its Washington state contract, the City partnered with The CEI Group, Inc. after sending out an RFP.

“We wanted to establish a longer-term contract customized to our needs,” Chun said. “The Washington state contract provided a good baseline, but items like electronic accident reporting were not available.”
CEI’s data management capability, capacity, and analysis saves the City valuable human and IT resources. Plus, the City’s subrogation recovery rates with CEI exceed the industry standard.

“The cost reduction and associated benefits are well-proven, as it would take so much work to do this work in-house,” Chun said, adding he’s found high-quality body repair work at CEI recommended shops.

To ensure smooth and effective fleet operations, the fleet team reviews key performance indicators (all measurable) and sets goals each month, including:

  • Preventive inspections and maintenance indicators — both on-time and quantity of preventive maintenance.
  • Same-day parts availability for same-day vehicle returns.
  • Billable rates to 70 percent.
  • Financial goal: No profit or no loss as an enterprise fund unit.

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