Budgets, costs are top fleet manager concerns, Arsenault poll shows

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“What do fleet maintenance managers want to know more about?” was one of the primary questions asked of the hundreds of members of the Dossier fleet maintenance software Users Group during a survey conducted in February 2007. Fleet managers were asked to select the areas that they would like to see addressed at the next Dossier Users Group meeting, scheduled for Oct. 24 and 25 at the Hilton Hotel in Atlantic City, N.J.

Fleet budgeting ranked first among 11 major fleet management topics listed in the Arsenault survey, with more than 47 percent of respondents selecting it. The second most-selected topic was capital expense planning, as more than 38 percent of the respondents chose the topic of equipment life cycle costing.

Arsenault contacted fleet managers by e-mail, inviting them to click on a link to a survey site. The survey was conducted, and the results were tabulated by an independent company, SurveyShare.com. More than 200 fleet managers took part in the survey.

Other topics in the survey included driver/mechanic management, selected by 31 percent of the respondents; tire management, 30 percent; equipment specification, 28 percent; wireless computing, 24 percent; purchasing, 23 percent; downtime analysis, 23 percent; warranty management, 23 percent; accident tracking, 21 percent; and vendor management, 18 percent.

“Fleet managers are challenged to control and reduce costs, not just keep the fleet on the street,” says Charles Arsenault, chief executive officer of Burlington, N.J.-based Arsenault Associates. “They are required to account for fleet maintenance expenses in detail more than ever before. Being able to develop an operating expense plan and then manage it is what budgeting is all about.”

Arsenault pointed out that Dossier software automatically tracks and reports on actual fleet expenses compared to projected expense budgets. Dossier is designed to track parts, labor, fuel, fluids, tires and other typical fleet operational expenses, as well as administrative and fixed expenses such as depreciation, license and permit costs and insurance expense. It provides the data necessary to monitor a fleet’s operating costs and to make reasonable future fleet expense projections when preparing an annual fleet maintenance budget, Arsenault says.

Fleet cost summaries are stated by current month, year-to-date and life-to-date and serves as the foundation of managing equipment life cycle costs, which was the second-most requested item on the survey, Arsenault says. “The concerns reflected in the survey indicate that fleet managers are being held more accountable for financial management in addition to their fleet maintenance operational responsibilities,” Arsenault says. “The items selected through the survey will be addressed at our 2007 User Group seminar.”