Over the past 21 years, Automotive Fleet has surveyed commercial fleet managers to find out more about the outsourcing trends among fleets. With the continuing impetus to "do more with less," information analyzed includes how fleets are funding their vehicles, what administrative services are outsourced, safety- and accident-related services that are being outsourced, and what responsibilities today's fleet managers have in addition to fleet management. Finally, fleet managers were asked to rate their job security and feelings on the current state of the commercial fleet industry.
Survey responses were broken out into four fleet vehicle classes (fewer than 200, 201 to 400, 401 to 999, and 1,000-plus vehicles).
Funding the Fleet
In 2013, fleets of 999 vehicles or less reported moving away from leasing vehicles and more toward purchasing units, with fleets fewer than 200 units showing a steady year-over-year upward trend toward purchasing vehicles since 1992 (57 percent in 2013). Fleets of more than 1,000 vehicles are continuing to favor leasing (57 percent of respondents in 2013), with a 4-percent increase over 2006.
All fleet categories are showing an increasing percentage find a mix of both leasing and purchasing vehicles to be the best option, with 50 percent of fleets with 201 to 400 vehicles utilizing both practices, and 35 percent of fleets with 401-999 vehicles.
Delving further into fleets that utilize leasing as a way of funding fleet vehicles, open-end leasing is still preferred by all fleet sizes, consistently growing year-over-year in fleets with 200 or fewer vehicles (74 percent in 2013, up from 57 percent in 2006). While fleets of 201-400 vehicles saw a growth in closed-end leasing in 2013 (33 percent) compared to 2006 (16 percent) and 1999 (28 percent), the majority still utilize open-end leasing (56 percent, dropping from 84 percent in 2006).
When deciding to outsource services, fleet managers are faced with a number of potential options, from day-to-day operational services to advanced safety and accident management assistance.
When reviewing administrative and day-to-day services that are outsourced, fleets with 400 or fewer vehicles are more like to keep services in house, while larger fleets are more likely to outsource these activities. Overall, fleets with more than 1,000 vehicles reported an increase in outsourcing services in all categories except used-vehicle remarketing.
A few additional items of note:
Used-Vehicle Remarketing: Fleets with fewer than 200 vehicles were the only segment that reported an increase (22.2 percent in 2006 vs. 30.4 percent in 2013); however, overall this segment has seen an overall decline since 1992 (54.2 percent). Fleets with more than 1,000 vehicles outsourced this service the most (68.1 percent in 2013), with only a slight decrease over 2006 (70.7 percent).
Registration/Titling: Only fleets with more than 1,000 vehicles reported an increase in the outsourcing of this service (74.5 percent in 2013 vs. 65.9 percent in 2006), which was up overall from 1992 (53.4 percent) and 1999 (63.6 percent).
Routine Maintenance Authorization: Fleets with fewer than 999 vehicles all reported a decrease in the outsourcing of this service, with fleets of 201-400 vehicles reporting the largest drop (54.2 percent in 2006 vs. 30 percent in 2013).
Authorization of Major Repairs: Less fleets with fewer than 200 vehicles are outsourcing the authorization of major repairs (10.9 percent in 2013 vs. 22.6 percent in 1992), after increasing slightly to 33.3 percent in 1999.
Processing New-Vehicle Orders: All fleet sizes reported an increase or stayed at the same level when looking at outsourcing new-vehicle orders, with 61.7 percent of fleets with more than 1,000 vehicles outsourcing this service.
Total Fleet Administration: Asked for the first time in 2013, 10 percent of fleets with 201-400 vehicles and 17 percent of fleets with more than 1,000 vehicles reported outsourcing the total administration of the fleet to an outside supplier.
Taking a look at the outsourcing of safety and accident-related services, larger fleets (with more than 1,000 vehicles) are again more likely to outsource such services. Over the past 21 years, fleets with fewer than 200 vehicles are outsourcing fewer and fewer safety-related services than ever before.
A few items of note:
Assignment of Collision Repair: Fleets with fewer than 999 vehicles are all outsourcing this service less and less, with only 15.2 percent of fleets with fewer than 200 vehicles outsourcing this service in 2013, down from 28.2 percent in 1992.
Subrogation/Accident Claims Services: Two segments (201-400 vehicles and more than 1,000 vehicles) increased the outsourcing of this service over 2006, with 61.7 percent of fleets with more than 1,000 vehicles outsourcing this service, up from 47.1 percent in 1992.
MVR Verifications: Fleets with fewer than 200 vehicles outsourced this service the least in 2013 (17.4 percent), dropping from 30 percent in 1992. After increasing the outsourcing of this service year-over-year, fleets with 401-999 vehicles decreased in 2013 to 30.8 percent, down from 46.2 percent in 2006.
Maintain Accident Report Statistics: While 51.1 percent of fleets with more than 1,000 vehicles reported outsourcing this service in 2013, only 2.2 percent of fleets fewer than 200 vehicles outsourced this service in 2013, down from 11.1 percent in 2006.
Driver Safety Education/Program: Fleets of 201-400 vehicles reported an increase in the outsourcing of this service in 2013, at 25 percent vs. 16.7 percent in 2006.
Fleet Manager Security and Satisfaction
Finally, fleet managers were asked to rate, on a scale of 1 to 10 (1 being total disagreement, 10 total agreement) how secure they feel about their job security, possibility of moving to reimbursement, their importance to the company they work for, and more.
In 2013, only 5 percent of surveyed fleet managers felt that management did not appreciate their accomplishments, while those that disagreed rose from 12 percent in 2006 to 26 percent in 2013. Fleet managers are reporting greater feelings of appreciation. Overall, more fleet managers disagreed with the statement about being concerned their jobs would be eliminated in favor of a reimbursement plan (55 percent in 2013 vs. 43 percent in 2006 and 45 percent in 1999).
For the first time in this survey, fleet managers were asked to further rate their overall satisfaction with fleet and the future it holds.
In 2013, 20 percent of surveyed fleet managers reported being optimistic about the future of in-house fleet management, with 72 percent being in overall agreement. More fleet managers (19 percent) see fleet maintaining the status quo, with about 12 percent seeing it going either way. Most fleet managers (25 percent) are not concerned about the future importance of fleet management at their company or that fleet management responsibilities will be absorbed into other corporate functions (30 percent in total disagreement).
Overall, fleet managers are reporting a feeling of security in their jobs, satisfaction with the support of upper management (with 25 percent reporting absolute agreement that senior management was supportive of the in-house fleet management function, 74 percent in overall agreement).