COVID-19 has fleet managers everywhere considering how to save money while still providing amazing service. Matthew Case, fleet division manager for the Manatee County, Fla., Government Fleet, understands there are many considerations to make before deciding what can and cannot be sacrificed to keep cars moving, teammates happy, and customers satisfied.
Making Educated Cuts
He says while every part of the job is fun for him, he enjoys finding creative to slash costs and improve customer service without letting the cuts affect the level of service his team provides.
“You must go into it with an open mind. Sometimes there's just there's no more meat on the bone to cut; the cost is the cost. But when you get to that point, you have to look at what activities you can save money on. We looked at saving money and time, because time is money, too.”
He started outsourcing anything he and his team felt others might be able to do more efficiently.
“It makes no sense to do any major engine or transmission work in house. Most of the time it requires specialty tools, lots of labor, and/or a specialized technician. I want my guys to be working on things they have the skills for and can complete in a timely manner without getting too backed up.”
He says he also took a look at and rewrote the department’s replacement program last year with a focus on how they acquired assets.
“We order all our assets for the fiscal year in a two-week period. I started doing that when I took over the fleet in 2018, and we saw a customer service level improvement because we got the assets in and out faster. What we saw in ‘19 when we did that was we got all the assets faster. You're not bleeding maintenance dollars in equipment you're going to get rid of. Last year, we really fine-tuned it and we saved over $200,000 in maintenance costs.”
The department has a current customer satisfaction rating of 99%.
Searching for the Right Talent
Case has personally selected almost every person on his leadership team, which he says helps hold him accountable.
“If a project isn’t successful, it's completely on me because I've gotten to pick everybody else.”
He says when it comes to what he looks for when interviewing others, he searches for someone who is highly organized and detail orientated. This is different from being a micromanager.
“I need someone who is like myself – all in the details. They have to want to be involved in every step of a process and have the general knowledge to build off of and grow. To me, the key difference between good and excellent is the details.”
Facing Challenges Head-on
Vehicle availability is a current challenge Case is facing due to shortages caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Luckily, he ordered vehicles early for the fiscal year 20 cycle and most have already been delivered. Now, however, he’s trying to order through the CARES act grant funding and finding his vendors have no vehicles on the lot.
“There are no build slots available. And it’s not just one manufacturer that’s having this issue. Like us, they are running from multiple shifts to single shifts with social distancing.”
He tries to keep a standardized fleet, and this means if he decides to work with an unfamiliar manufacturer, he’ll have to increase technician and driver training.
He’s also facing the challenge of filling empty technician spots. Case is working with local technical colleges as well as some veteran agencies. He’s requested some job descriptions be rewritten to be more accommodating to people who are not ASE certified.