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tools for your managed fleetThis is a guest post from Mike Burns. Mike is an auto mechanic and father of three from New York.

Your fleet team is ready to take the road. You can send them out in their own battered vehicles, a move that won’t impress prospective clients at all, or you can put them in an impressive company car. As a fleet manager, you get to make tough decisions about what your team needs, and these decisions affect both the functioning of your team and its image.

Hit the Road in Style

When choosing cars for your company fleet, you’ll need to consider tangible issues like price, financing and safety specifications as well as long-term costs like insurance, fuel and maintenance. The most important intangible factor to consider is the image projected by the fleet vehicles, which are ambassadors of your company so they need to blend with your image. If you sell contracting supplies, a tough looking SUV, a Jeep or a truck are all great options but if you sell luxury goods, you might want to consider classic-looking sedans.

Don’t forget to give your team the tools that they’ll need on the road like GPS and OnStar. If possible, work with one of the fleet programs from the world’s major car manufacturers. General Motors offers fleet and commercial vehicles, ideal for everything from construction work to outside sales to delivery vehicles. By working with a fleet program, you will get specialized solutions to meet your needs.

Power and Memory or Sleek and Mobile?

When buying computers for your team, think first about how they are going to be used. If you’re running design software or other programs that require a lot of storage, you’ll need PCs. But if all of your programs are located on the cloud, you can give your employees laptops or tablets. The Ultrabook 2 in 1 inspired by Intel is the perfect choice if you want to give your employees the benefits of a laptop and the convenience of a tablet. Ultrabooks start at only $480 when you shop at Best Buy.

If you want to save money on computers, consider scrapping that idea altogether. Instead, instigate a BYOD (bring your own device) program. The UK Telegraph explains that BYOD programs can save businesses in training costs as employees get to use laptops they are already familiar with. It also increases the possibility of employees taking their projects home with them so that they can put in some extra hours.

Talking, Texting and Closing the Deal

When it comes to phones, your staff needs unlimited data, texting and minutes. Without those features, you may face overage charges at the end of the month, or your employee may get cut off during an important data download or while talking with a client. Remember to convey the right image with your phones as well. Although they are not as prominent as vehicles, it doesn’t reflect positively on your brand if your employee is using a battered, old flip phone.

Consider working with a company like T-Mobile that offers unlimited calling and data on Android smartphones with competitively priced plans. The company’s Even More Plus plans don’t require contracts, a feature that gives you the flexibility you need to keep up with your waxing and waning staff.

Related Links

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How to Implement a Nitrogen Tire Inflation Program into Your Fleet

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nitrogen tire inflation systemPurchasing a nitrogen tire inflation system is a big deal. Not only is it a large investment, but not all systems are created the same. Choosing the right system that will serve your managed fleet to your needs requires knowing several factors in how you will use the nitrogen tire system and how quickly you need to service each vehicle. Here’s how to choose the right nitrogen tire inflation system for your managed fleet:

Number of Vehicles

The number of vehicles not only determines how many nitrogen carts and how much nitrogen capacity you need, but you also need to know if you plan to fill every vehicle or if you plan to fill two or more vehicles at a time. Systems come in various sizes and capacities, so you need to consider the number of tires you’ll be servicing each month as well as if you plan to service multiple vehicles at once. Knowing this will ensure that you purchase a system that can handle the volume of your fleet at a speed that works for your drivers and maintenance crew.

Space and Mobility

With your nitrogen tire system, you need to know which characteristic is more important for your overall fleet management. If space is tight, then you probably don’t want a system that is too large or has too many hose reels that require additional storage space. You may not necessarily want a mobile nitrogen tire program, as you may not have the space to move the carts around so they can reach every single tire. Of course, if you have the space, then mobility might be a more convenient option.

Naturally, you’ll need to balance space and mobility with the number of vehicles you plan to service. Mobile may be tougher to have it you’re servicing over 1200 tires per month, but could be a nice alternative in case a vehicle just needs to be topped off and doesn’t need a full maintenance check. But, mobile is easier if you have a small fleet and are capable of handling more individualized service and maintenance for your fleet vehicles.

Purchase for Future Use

A nitrogen tire inflation system may be a hesitant purchase for many managed fleets, since the practice is brand new and not something that’s already been tested with the fleet. This may lead to a hesitant purchase, one that doesn’t include the ability to scale or to consider future use in terms of servicing larger or additional vehicles. For some managed fleets that aren’t projecting or planning to increase the size of their fleets, purchasing a system that meets current needs isn’t a bad idea. However, there are instances where purchasing for future need is a good idea. If your company is planning to purchase more, or bigger, fleet vehicles in 2014, or if you’re going to add nitrogen tire programs to other locations or maintenance centers, then doing a bulk purchase may be smarter and better for the bottom line.

Related Links:

How to Implement a Nitrogen Tire Inflation Program into Your Fleet

3 New Year’s Resolutions for Managed Fleets

How to Track Your Fleet’s Carbon Footprint

nitrogen tire inflation myths paper

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new years resolutions for managed fleetsThe first full week of 2014 is almost over, and resolutions may seem like a tradition that companies don’t normally do, this doesn’t mean that your managed fleet can’t have one or two goals for the year. After all, setting out to make this year better than last year isn’t a bad idea, and setting a fleet management resolution can help you do that. Here are three New Year’s resolutions for managed fleets:

Improve Safety and Compliance

Improving safety and compliance could mean tackling a variety of issues. For some fleets, improving safety could mean working with drivers to reduce accidents. For others, it could mean working on maintenance so vehicles don’t cause problems for drivers. Some managed fleets may decide to work on safety training and policies. Whichever way you choose to improve safety and compliance, it’s certainly a resolution on every managed fleet’s list, as these statistics show:

  • Drivers age 36-45 had the highest rate of accidents in 2011
  • The time of day with the highest rate of accidents is from 11 a.m.-12 p.m.
  • 86% of drivers drink and eat while driving
  • 77.7% of accidents occur on clear, sunny days – This one doesn’t necessarily mean weather isn’t a safety issue. It could mean that many fleets avoid driving in severe weather as a safety precaution, or reduce the number of vehicles on the road. It could also mean that drivers get more cautious as the weather worsens, lessening the chance of accident because they are paying much more attention to their surroundings.

Improve the Bottom Line

Reducing costs/increasing revenue is one of the biggest challenges facing fleet managers. It’s a constant struggle as some of these costs and revenue sources, such as fuel costs, are outside your control. The economy can also make a big impact, affecting the overall business climate as well  as the willingness of customers to continue services. Improving revenue and/or reducing costs could also mean targeting a specific problems, such as improving driver productivity, improving driver retention, lowering insurance costs, and improving route efficiency.

Overall, improving the bottom line is a balancing act where everyone needs to be kept happy as initiatives are put into place. You may want to reduce vehicle acquisition costs, for example, but you also need to purchase vehicles that your drivers will like to use. You also don’t want to invest in an initiative that doesn’t equate to savings, or recoup its investment fast enough.

Improve Your Carbon Footprint

The most effective way to improve your carbon footprint is to work on your fuel efficiency. That’s what Midwest retailer Meijer did, and credits its 60% carbon footprint reduction to fuel efficiency and the implementation of the EPA’s near-zero emission standards. Because of these efforts, Meijer is now the largest all-clean diesel fleet in North America.

Fuel efficiency isn’t the only way to improve your carbon footprint. If your fleet is growing over the next 12 months, then you can consider great fleet vehicle picks such as hybrid or electric vehicles as they would reduce your footprint. Your fleet could also start by coming up with metrics to measure your carbon footprint. You can’t improve what you can’t measure, and unlike safety and revenue, the carbon footprint doesn’t easily come with data and indicators to show you who well you’re doing.

Although there are many ways to meet these resolutions over the next 12 months, there is only one way that can accomplish all of them: nitrogen tire inflation. Putting nitrogen in your tires improves safety and compliance by keeping tires at proper pressure and tire for longer periods of time. This decreases the chances of a blowout. Having tires at proper tire pressure for longer periods of time improves your bottom line by reducing your fuel and maintenance costs. You’re no longer wasting gas and reducing tire life because your vehicles have under-inflated tires. Nitrogen tire inflation also improves your carbon footprint because there will be fewer tires in landfills and less gas used in the long run. All of that is great for the environment.

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