Kelly Reagan is proud of the fact that the City of Columbus, Ohio, Fleet Management Division outsources an average of only 8.3% of its vehicle/equipment maintenance, compared to a government fleet industry average of about 20.6%. That means the fleet division retains about 92% of the repairs that come to its shop.
Those measurements come from the fleet’s participation in a benchmarking program through fleet analytics and business intelligence company Utilimarc. The low outsourced maintenance rate is one of many factors that Reagan believes led him to be named 2016 Public Sector Fleet Manager of the Year.
Reagan received the honor at the Government Fleet Expo & Conference on June 21. The award, sponsored by General Motors, recognizes Reagan as the highest scoring candidate in 10 criteria: business plan, technology implementation, productivity, policies, preventive maintenance, utilization management, replacement program, customer service, fuel management, and safety.
Focusing on Benchmarking & Certifications
“One thing we always ask ourselves is, ‘How do we know we’re good at what we do?’ One of the best ways to answer that question is to benchmark against others,” said Reagan, fleet administrator. He added that his fleet reduced outsourced work by more than $125,000 from 2014 to 2015, a 9.8% reduction (see chart below). Comparing 2008 and 2016, the fleet reduced outsourced work by more than $1.4 million without increasing any staff.
The Fleet Management Division maintains more than 6,280 pieces of equipment, divided almost evenly between on-road vehicles and off-road equipment.
Statistics from the division provide strong support for Reagan receiving the Public Sector Fleet Manager of the Year award. One benchmark is the stat showing his fleet averages about 1,400 hours of technician productivity. Reagan noted that the industry average is about 1,200 hours, according to Utilimarc’s numbers.
The technician productivity benchmark is helpful to the fleet management division. “It tells us how many technicians I need on the floor with the amount of equipment we’ve got,” Reagan said. “It tells me if I’m under- or over-staffed.”
He has used benchmarking and other performance-tracking tools for years. He managed a fleet of vehicles for a rental car company while still in college, and in 2004 he entered the public sector fleet business, managing the City of Fort Wayne, Ind., fleet for First Vehicle Services, a fleet management and maintenance services company. In his five years there, Reagan helped Fort Wayne obtain an ASE Blue Seal of Excellence, ISO 9001-2000 certification, and VPP Merit certifications from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
Reagan continued his advocacy for fleet certifications when he came to the City of Columbus in 2007, helping the fleet achieve the ASE Blue Seal, which staff has continued to earn for nine straight years. He mentioned the important role his staff has played in the fleet’s success, noting that technicians on the floor hold 525 ASE certifications, and 24 technicians have earned ASE Master status. Forty-nine employees on the floor hold 143 Emergency Vehicle Technician (EVT) certifications, with 14 at Master status. Assistant Operations Manager Deryl Seward helps foster the maintenance and continuation of certifications for ASE Blue Seal.
Investing in Employees
Fleet used to spend $2.6 million a year for outsourcing services. Those costs have been reduced to $1.2 million as of 2015. To accomplish that, the division increased its investment in training and certifications. Reagan noted that for every dollar his fleet invests in its employees, it recovers about $22. “If my folks are better trained, better certified, and they know how to do work that was previously outsourced, we save money, and our technicians are stronger for it,” he said. “I can calculate my return on investment on my training dollars. That is a good thing.”
A boost in employee morale is a benefit of the increased focus on training. Reagan said employees appreciate that the city is investing in them and making them stronger in their field. It makes them more marketable, although Reagan wants them to stay with the division.
Training programs such as the division’s SHOP talks also help improve employee morale. SHOP stands for safety, help, opportunity, and plan, and the SHOP talks take place daily at the beginning of every shift to encourage communication between employees and supervisors. This program was the idea of Fleet Operations Manager John King.
“Regardless of the size fleet you manage, the management principles are the same: Empower your employees to own their decisions, support them in all that they do, and give them a voice,” Reagan said. “In the last five years, 10 of our supervisors have been promoted from within. Our employees now see opportunity.”
Also related to benchmarking and training, Reagan lists his involvement with the board of the Municipal Equipment Maintenance Association (MEMA) as his proudest accomplishment. He serves as chair of MEMA’s Ohio chapter, which has grown to about 150 members. He notes that MEMA has created a platform for sharing ideas and information.
“MEMA is all about sharing training, information, specifications, getting together and networking, and learning our business through mentoring. Thanks to our progressive Purchasing Department, our city writes contracts cooperatively so other municipalities around the region can use our contracts, and they do, saving them money.”
Under Reagan’s leadership, the fleet began migrating to GPS use in 2012, and today it includes about 2,200 units equipped with the Assetworks GPS product powered by Verizon Networkfleet. GPS has resulted in better route planning, remote diagnosis for items such as engine coolant temperature and battery voltage for problem vehicles, and reduced fuel consumption. Employees are also more conscious of their activities when their vehicles include GPS systems. The move to GPS helps Reagan and his team see which vehicles are underutilized.
Fleet used to spend $2.6 million a year for outsourcing services. Those costs have been reduced to $1.2 million as of 2015.
Reagan is also proud of the fleet’s safety program, noting that his division recently won the National Safety Council’s Significant Improvement Award for the fourth year in a row. He credits the fleet’s safety program manager Terrell Spencer and an employee-led safety team. The team was also honored with the Mayor’s Outstanding Safety Achievement Award for 2016. “The bottom line is, folks come to work with all 10 fingers and toes working properly, and we want to send them home the same way,” Reagan said. The fleet reported only four OSHA-recordable incidents last year, compared to 17 to 20 annually about eight years ago.
Reagan has been a leader in driving alternative-fuel use in central Ohio, particularly in the number of compressed natural gas (CNG) vehicles. The City of Columbus fleet includes 178 dedicated CNG vehicles. The CNG implementation is part of the city’s Green Fleet Action Plan. Written by the division’s Green Team, which includes Fleet Operations Manager Bill Burns, and overseen by the mayor’s office, the plan details how much the fleet division reduces its petroleum consumption. His division completed a plan for 2011 to 2014 and last year updated the plan until 2018. The updated report showed that fleet reduced petroleum use an average of about 450,000 gallons compared to five years ago. The city will also add electric vehicles to the fleet.
During the last 18 months, fleet installed anti-idling technology on 190 new police cruisers, significantly reducing fuel consumption. By year-end 2015, cruisers have demonstrated a 26% reduction in idle time, or 23,000 hours. Once all 340 police cruisers are upfitted with anti-idling technology, the city projects savings of $1.3 million to $1.5 million per year in direct operating and fuel costs.
Every year, Reagan re-evaluates the division’s accomplishments, sets priorities, and assesses the division’s position to provide the best possible service for end users. “Change is part of a healthy fleet regardless of size. The key is to review failures along with successes every year,” he said.
Looking ahead, Reagan plans to continue the benchmarking program and being an advocate for certifications such as ASE Blue Seal and EVT.
“It helps employee morale, saves costs in both parts and services, and demonstrates to all our customers that we, in fact, do know what we are doing.”