5 Oct 22

25 Tips for an optimised international fleet management

As Fleet Europe celebrates its 25th anniversary, it’s tempting to think about all the things that have changed since 1997. Indeed, the Fleet and Mobility industry has been transformed, new trends have emerged, and new players have arisen. What hasn’t changed: the essentials for successful international fleet management. 

International fleet management is a daunting task – but like other daunting tasks, it can be chopped up into smaller, more manageable bits. Here are 25 tips that will go a long way to helping you climb that mountain.

  1. Establish a cross-functional team.  Fleet management is not just about fleet managers. Since the emergence of digitisation, electrification and smart mobility, it’s key to involve all relevant stakeholders in your team: procurement, HR, finance, safety, facilities, CSR, and more. Make sure they are empowered to act. With the current move towards Mobility Management, don’t forget Legal.
  2. Get top-level support. Fleet management is a complex exercise across many departments. The main condition for success is getting top management to buy in to your strategy and your fleet and mobility initiatives. 
  3. Clarify your purpose. Some people within your organisation may find some aspects of vehicle fleet management counterproductive or counterintuitive. Formulate and communicate the purpose behind your actions as clearly as possible and underline the benefits for the various stakeholders – in other words: look beyond single issues like cost saving. 
  4. Collect as much information as possible. Fleet managers are often asked to make educated guesses rather than fact-based choices. These become difficult to get right, without the necessary education and knowledge.
  5. Become excellent at stakeholder management. Your success depends on the buy-in from your stakeholders. Understand their requirements and match your initiatives with their success.
  6. Vehicle selection. Qualify vehicles using a number of criteria. Firstly, whether they can fulfil their business purpose, then on TCO (i.e. including depreciation, funding, VAT, maintenance and repair, fuel). And don't shy away from EV!
  7. Develop the policy. Establish a structure that guides all aspects of mobility: from the provision of fully expensed company cars (Who is entitled and what are their options?) to business use of private cars, and other mobility modes.
  8. Establish processes. These should aim to support the policy and deliver the required outcomes, and can include reporting systems, fuel provision methods, service and maintenance arrangements – among others.
  9. Establish KPIs. Identify a series of workable Key Performance Indicators to measure and monitor the implementation of your policy. These may include mileage, CO2 emissions and cost – at both company and individual levels.
  10. Use Europe as baseline. Your company's knowledge of the overall European fleet industry can serve as a baseline for a SWOT analysis to identify market particulars, key cost drivers, fleet types and sizes, TCOs, etc.
  11. Communicate with your countries. Get to know the Purchasing and/or Fleet Managers throughout your markets, but also the influencers along the value chain. Hold workshops to understand local peculiarities and build an international consensus.
  12. Look for synergy and integration. Ask larger countries to manage certain overall aspects of fleet management within a wider region. Extend best practices and purchasing agreements throughout multiple countries and regions.
  13. Build supplier relationships. Identify a manageably small number of OEMs, leasing and/or fleet management companies and/or other partners closest to your needs, and develop a relationship with them. Will this partner be able to help with all my countries, be reactive to my company requests? How far can we walk the road together? It’s better to ask these questions before you sign a partnership.
  14. Establish a clear procurement process. Use a well-outlined procurement strategy, based on a tender process that includes RFIs and RFPs.
  15. Understand the customer. Keep in mind the needs and wants of the internal customer – the driver or employee – but internalise your company’s vision in order to not lose sight of the external customer either.
  16. Manage performance. Continuously focus on improvement, prioritise areas where cost benefits will be greatest, for example by zooming in on worst cases.
  17. Make a concerted effort to downsize. Convince managers of the feasibility and benefit of reducing engine size, fuel consumption and overall fleet size.
  18. Outsource sparingly. Do it for what is necessary. Administrative and clerical processes are ripe for outsourcing, but strategic management decisions should always remain in-house.
  19. Review regularly. Establish quarterly reviews with preferred suppliers (OEMs, lease companies, etc.) and monthly engagements with your various markets (focus on cost, efficiency and compliance).
  20. Update regularly. Review the policy with key stakeholders and value chain partners. Policies, processes and procedures may need to be updated to reflect developments in the organisation, legislation, the market – or your own fleet.
  21. Embrace technology. Explore new business models and new technology, but do your homework. Ensure that it’s a fit with your mission, and start with a test run of a modest portion of the fleet.
  22. Don’t become indispensable. Fleet management is a highly specialised job. But resist the urge to become indispensable. That limits both your own career prospects and the efficient management of the fleet itself.
  23. Be a change advocate. The pace of change in fleet management is higher than ever before, and often surprises companies and drivers alike. Translating high-speed change into manageable actions and initiatives, and promoting these, is a quality that will be appreciated.
  24. Consult expertise.  Talk to your peers, attend events, or buy consulting. As opposed to information, which is often readily available, expertise is a rare thing to find in the open. Engaging with experts and learning from them will accelerate achieving your targets.
  25. Analyse market signals. Chip shortages were announced early 2021, but the market only reacted in 2022. Analysing market signals will give you a head start and eventually, avoid business disruption


Authored by: Steven Schoefs