10 Factors Affecting Fleet Availability Benchmarks

June 2013, Government Fleet - Feature

by Steve Riley

At A Glance
Some factors that affect availability include:
  • Management policies
  • Staff and driver morale
  • Correct matching of technician skills with their responsibilities
  • Correct data entry and system setup
  • Shop organization
  • Organized and easily accessible service manuals

Everyone likes to quote availability percentages, but what happens when your numbers aren’t as good as other fleets? As a fleet manager, your natural tendency would be to turn your attention to the technicians. While technician productivity and efficiency may be partially to blame, look beyond the obvious and focus your attention on the other potential factors involved. Let’s look into equipment availability and analyze what possible variables can affect your availability benchmark numbers. While some of the factors listed below may seem singularly insignificant, their combined effects can have a dramatic impact on your overall ratio.

Designing Metrics

Knowing what your performance limitations are, and how to accurately design your benchmarks around them, will make the difference between achieving your goals and never reaching them at all. For some, designing a proper benchmark can be a daunting task. Remember that benchmarks not only represent a specific quantitative goal, but also provide the means in which to analyze and identify critical bottle­necks that prevent you from achieving it. Knowing the industry standard on how to compute the benchmark is a good place to start.

Let’s look at the basic benchmark of equipment availability. The method of counting the number of vehicles on the deadline at a specific point in time and calculating that number as a ratio to the overall fleet size will not give you an accurate result. This will only provide availability at that specific point in time, and not one minute after. Most fleet management information systems (FMIS) are designed to accurately report availability, provided the setup parameters are correct. Do some research and learn how to do it properly.

Those who are woefully understaffed may wish to design their benchmark around the number of required vehicles by operational category and needed by customers at a given time, rather than an overall benchmark by class category. For example, promising to meet the daily availability requirement of five garbage trucks (plus one reserve) out of a fleet of 10 is more appropriate than promising to have 90% of the fleet available at all times. You can still measure the ability to meet customer demands while improving the capacity to manage workload. Only you can assess your ability to meet your benchmark.

Overreach is one of the worst things you can do to the reputation of your fleet department. Setting an unrealistic benchmark and never being able to achieve it will make fleet management and staff appear incompetent. Start by setting a realistic number based on your unique circumstances. Set the benchmark with the intention to increase the percentage as you identify the key performance issues hampering the increase. To do this, develop an analytical and systems-driven approach to correct the core performance issues. In a systems-­driven approach, utilize the FMIS to create the necessary coding structure and reporting parameters that will allow staff to drill down to the fine details by measuring the critical variables. If you can’t accurately identify the problem, you will never be able to fix it.


  1. 1. Michael Lomsak [ August 05, 2013 @ 01:12PM ]

    One of the things I notice as being a loss of vehicle availability is the fact that most shops just do what we have always done. We repair vehicles the same way instead of evaluating what is failing and why. Some things cant be redesigned or maintenance proceedures changed but some things can. I'll give an example. Front sealed hubs on pickup trucks. They are always failing. Garages accept that. No thought is given to the fact that industry programs failure into them so they only last a certain amount of time. They do this by limiting the amount of grease inside the hub and make it unservicable. Or is it? You can remove the abs sensor, put a rubber tip on your grease gun and pack the bearings. You can find out how to do it if you google "greasing your sealed hub bearings". Or how about the fact that industry is making upper and lower ball joints with no grease fitting? This is easily remedied by installing grease fittings. Then there is the garage supervisor who doesnt care cause its all covered under warranty. Doesnt see that down time is money? Not to mention the time to bring the vehicle to a dealer. These are just a couple things that affect fleet availability. Any Fleet manager can find out how much money they spend in hubs and ball joints. There is more but I will stop there because of the 2000 character limit.


Comment On This Story

Comment: (Maximum 10000 characters)  
Leave this field empty:
* Please note that every comment is moderated.


Fleet Management And Leasing

Jack Firriolo from Merchants will answer your questions and challenges

View All


Public Fleet Tracking And Telematics

Amin Amini from Verizon Connect will answer your questions and challenges

View All


Fuel Management

Bernie Kanavagh from WEX will answer your questions and challenges

View All


Recent Topics

We are in process of auditing different departments for underutilized vehicles and have already come across vehicles that we need to...

View Topic

I am requesting feedback on how often you replace street sweepers? Also, when you surplus the old sweeper, what has brought you the...

View Topic

Fleet Documents

1117 Fleet Documents (and counting) to Download!

Sponsored by

Depreciation is simply the difference between the original cost of a fixed asset and the proceeds from the sale of the asset.

Read more