Elite Fleets Continue Tradition of Excellence

July 2013, Government Fleet - Feature

by Thi Dao - Also by this author

Becoming the No. 1 fleet is quite an accomplishment — after this recognition, the fleet is ineligible to compete in the 100 Best Fleets program for five years and is named an Elite Fleet. Fleet managers are often asked to become judges for this award, giving back to the award they earned. Being an Elite Fleet brings additional recognition from neighboring fleets and national agencies as well.

However, that doesn’t mean the Elite Fleets are leaning back — they’re continuing to lead the way in innovative and efficient fleet management. This year’s Elite Fleets focus on saving taxpayer dollars, increasing operation efficiency, and contributing to new technologies and products that benefit the industry.

Hillsborough County – Maximizing ROI

The fleet management leadership team is just one element of the City’s successful fleet. Pictured (l-r) are: Ross Meslin, fleet services manager; Robert Stine Jr., director; and Ernie Hutman, operations/maintenance manager.

Photo courtesy of Hillsborough County
The fleet management leadership team is just one element of the City’s successful fleet. Pictured (l-r) are: Ross Meslin, fleet services manager; Robert Stine Jr., director; and Ernie Hutman, operations/maintenance manager.Photo courtesy of Hillsborough County

The Hillsborough County, Fla., Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) Fleet Management Department has been focusing on maximizing vehicle return on investment (ROI). With a large County fleet, disposal of more than 300 vehicles annually can lead to substantial savings due to higher resale prices, according to Robert Stine Jr., CPFP, fleet management director. Stine joined the County fleet in January.

To do so, the fleet considers resale ROI during initial vehicle acquisition, using a “teaming and common sense” approach. One example is specifying vehicle options that add value to the vehicle’s eventual resale price. The County’s vehicles are normally painted white with tinted windows to help fight the extreme summer heat. Adding something as simple as a truck bed liner enhances the condition of the vehicle after years of service and is viewed favorably at auction. These lifecycle cost decisions might seem minor in nature, but they can quickly add up to large savings and substantially increase ROI, Stine said.

At the time of resale, fleet staff members ensure they provide the “Midas Touch” to every vehicle. Ernie Hutman, CPFP, operations and maintenance manager, said the days of “painting over or scraping off” existing County decals and miscellaneous markings are long gone. Fleet staff quickly discovered that taking the time to properly remove decals and stickers and doing a general cleanup of the unit led to a positive effect on its resale price. As a result, it is not uncommon for local buyers and other counties to call the County fleet asking for projected future vehicle disposals, Stine said. The average ROI for the past several fiscal years has been more than 25% of acquisition price, up from an average of 15% in 2008, Hutman said. For the past calendar year, the ROI is averaging at more than 31%, which further reduces the amount of budgeted funds required to support the replacement program.

Hillsborough County, Fla.

No. 1 Fleet in 2008 & 2009

Fleet size:1,650 on-road, 1,200 off-road
Fleet staff:50
Maintenance facilities:4
Operating budget:$18.8 million

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