The Car and Truck Fleet and Leasing Management Magazine

Best Practices For Creating a Vehicle Selector

June 2005, by Chad Simon

How much input do fleet drivers have when choosing vehicle selectors? How much emphasis is placed on single sourcing from one manufacturer to attain maximum-tier incentives at bid time? What is management’s philosophy when balancing employee satisfaction versus hard cost savings?

Depending on the fleet, drivers often can only select color when ordering new vehicles. In other fleets, managers cater to the driver for purposes of employee satisfaction and retention, offering many driver-paid comfort and safety options to enhance job performance.

In addition to taking full advantage of rifle-shot savings, fleet managers admit providing a limited selector makes their job easier, and some offer choices within their selector. Company image and choosing the appropriate vehicle for the job are commonly factored into the decision-making process. Here’s a look at how four different fleet personnel manage their company’s vehicle selection process.

Lorillard Tobacco Maximizes Fuel Efficiency

Jim Anselmi, fleet manager for Lorillard Tobacco, based in Greensboro, N.C., oversees a GE and Wheels-managed DaimlerChrysler fleet of 1,290 vehicles, including 1,100 minivans. With fuel prices sailing to new heights almost daily, fuel efficiency has never been more crucial when selecting vehicles. Therefore, Anselmi conducts an annual total cost benefit analysis to determine fuel efficiency for the company’s chosen selector.

Anselmi orders 450 vehicles each fall. Some are delivered in October, while the rest are delivered in the spring. Order-to-delivery (OTD) times are less than 8-10 weeks. Drivers are only allowed to pick vehicle color, simplifying the ordering process because Lorillard only has one spec for each category, says Anselmi.

“This year was a home run. Between the Stow ‘n Go seats for the minivan and the Chrysler 300 at various equipment levels for the managers in the field, I was a hero this year.”

Resale value, maintenance, and operating costs are all factors in the overall picture in vehicle selection. Average lifecycle is 34-35 months or 65,000 miles.

Looking at the Overall Package

For management, the advantage to offering a limited selector is it enables the company to reach the top manufacturer incentive tier. Anselmi says he can guarantee a vehicle’s price because he controls what he purchases, as opposed to choosing from several manufacturers. The only down side, according to Anselmi, is that drivers like to have choices. On the other hand, offering various selector levels helps minimize risk in the event of a recall or problem within a particular model.

“We look at the total overall package, not just an individual rife shot but overall lifecycle and operating costs. If our minivans and cars from the same manufacturer give us a better overall bottom line or savings, we may pay a little extra for the car.”

Minimizing Depreciation

Next to fuel efficiency, depreciation is the most critical factor in Anselmi’s decision-making process. “Once I’m able to buy that vehicle at the best possible price, my next goal is to sell it three years later for as much as I can to manage that depreciation,” he explains.

Alcon Focuses on Employee Satisfaction

Pat Turner, fleet manager for Alcon in Ft. Worth, Texas, oversees a GE and Wheels-managed GM fleet of 1,000 vehicles and an additional 250 vehicles for pharmaceutical company Galderma. Sales reps drive Chevrolet Trailblazer SUVs. Turner orders vehicles year-round and OTD times are 75 days. Average lifecycle is 75,000 miles.

Because the company allows employee and spouse personal use driving privileges, Alcon’s first priority is the driver. “Driver satisfaction is the main reason we use the SUV. It does the job. The minivan is not a popular vehicle among our drivers,” says Turner. “We also consider usability, serviceability, will it do the job we need, and price. Driver satisfaction is not only a hiring tool, it’s a retention tool.”

Resale value is another crucial factor. Drivers are provided a selector with four vehicles to choose from: an SUV, minivan, sedan, and an Equinox. Some salespeople choose a Silverado crew-cab pickup as their selector because they carry large equipment used for laser surgery, says Turner. Drivers can pick color and add options if they choose.

“We sell vehicles to our drivers 25 percent of the time. If they put money into it, they’re more likely to buy the vehicle at the end of the lease,” says Turner.

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