Boost Fleet Efficiency by Creating a Consolidated Vendor List

Many fleets have a list of vendors they can call for outsourced work. What if this list isn’t enough?

March 2018, Government Fleet - Feature

by Thi Dao - Also by this author

Photo: Getty Images
Photo: Getty Images

The core business of most fleets is maintenance, so many fleets send out other services to local companies. These services may include towing, glass work, rebuilding engines, or work that requires special tools or equipment.

But what happens when fleet managers don’t have a good list of companies to call on for services? One fleet manager in Northern California set out to make a consolidated vendor list not just for his county, but for the whole region.

How it Started

Carlos Velasquez, fleet manager for Contra Costa County, Calif., joined the Northern California fleet four years ago, coming from Southern California. He found that Northern California had fewer vendors than he was used to, and the county’s list of vendors only included local companies. Some services weren’t on the list because they weren’t available locally.

“The idea came about because of a need to get the work done by (quality) approved vendors as fast and as cost effectively as possible, to have as little downtime as possible,” Velasquez said. “In order to do that, one must know who and where to quickly send units.”

Getting Participants

Velasquez worked with the Northern California chapter of the Municipal Equipment Maintenance Association (MEMA), of which he is a board member, to collect data from participating agencies.

“This is a quick reference with contact information of the best vendors in the northern region. It’s a vital resource available at one’s fingertips,” he said.
Six public fleets in Northern California have signed on so far, and while it’s been a year-long process to create, Velasquez reported that he and the other participants have found the consolidated vendor list to be useful.

What Services are Included?

The range of vendors is wide and includes light- to heavy-duty vehicle and equipment dealerships, upfitters, glass repair services, auto parts suppliers, and more.

The emphasis is on quality vendors, Velasquez said. Each company on the list has been vetted and approved by another public fleet, meaning it provides good customer service, is decently priced, is reliable, and is in good standing.

The list spans numerous counties. Velasquez said he tries local suppliers first before branching out to other areas. While using someone from the list might mean a longer tow or drive to a vendor farther out, it’s often worth it for better and quicker service.

When This May Be Useful

  • When a unit has an emergency breakdown and needs towing, especially when that happens in another county
  • When a heavy repair has to be turned around quickly and the local vendor has a backlog
  • When services aren’t available locally, such as with heavy-­duty vehicle or bus dealerships in another county.

Start Your Own

Fleets don’t necessarily need to rely on a local association to create this list — although one would help.
“Reach out to the various fleet agencies around your region to work together to pool your vital resources around you,” Velasquez recommended.

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