Is a pool vehicle booking solution right for you?

There are a range of factors you will need to consider when evaluating whether a pool vehicle booking solution is right for your fleet. The list of questions below will help you to define your requirements. This is an essential first step in outlining your expectations and the benefits you want to gain from any pool vehicle booking solution.

1. Do you have shared vehicles in your fleet?

Many companies look to shared vehicles to provide mobility to employees who need transport for off-site tasks. This is an excellent way to ensure the utilisation of available vehicles is maximised, but it can come with additional administration hassles. These include the challenge of meeting the expectations of multiple users and ensuring adequate control over who is using each vehicle.

By using an online vehicle booking solution, you can minimise the admin requirement that comes with managing both the vehicles and the booking process, while maintaining control over vehicle use.

2. Are some of the vehicles in your fleet assigned to particular drivers?

Getting drivers to relinquish control of vehicles that they view as an employment perk can be a challenge. Smartrak’s solution can help with this by building into the system any expectations around an assigned vehicle. For instance, if a vehicle is taken home at the end of the working day, any bookings that may fall into this end-of-day period cannot be made. And if the person who the vehicle is assigned to needs to use it during the day, they simply make a booking like all other users.

With the right pool vehicle booking solution, you will be able to satisfy the expectations of an assigned driver while ensuring vehicles that would otherwise sit idle are available to be used by all staff.

3. How is the booking system for your fleet vehicles managed?

Organisations often rely on various ad-hoc processes to manage shared vehicle bookings. Vehicles might be allocated on a first-come-first-served basis, or there may be a paper booking form. Alternatively, your organisation could be using a shared booking spreadsheet to manage bookings.

Each of these should be considered inadequate for a fleet that needs to operate effectively. All of them result in problems that can be summarised under three categories: booker frustration, wasted time, or poor utilisation of resources.

Booker frustration

This happens when the system isn’t followed, or it lacks the agility to respond to operational requirements.

An online booking solution ensures processes are followed in order to make a booking. Because all booking requests are made through an integrated platform, the solution has the information to respond to and anticipate booking chokepoints. Identifying booking conflicts, double bookings, or providing notifications when vehicles are running late are examples of how the solution can provide the information that helps to avoid frustrations.

Wasted time

The people responsible for managing vehicles and those wanting to book them will both experience time that’s wasted due to a solution that requires hands-on management or lets users down when they need a vehicle.

A pool vehicle booking solution removes the admin requirement from managers and empowers users to self-serve by showing them what vehicles are available. When a booker has the necessary information presented to them in an easy-to-use format, they can take control of the means to meet their requirements and reduce the need to burden managers with their requests.

Poor utilisation of resources

An inefficient system for managing shared vehicles inevitably leads to a situation where excess vehicle supply is seen as the answer to meeting demand. This is generally the response where there are increasing occasions of vehicle users complaining to managers that vehicles are not available.

Our experience across hundreds of fleets shows that the real problem lies in a lack of process in the way vehicles are booked. Implementing a system where vehicle users are responsible for making their own bookings ensures they are anticipating their requirements and planning for them. When this is done across all vehicle requirements, the fleet’s available resources are properly utilised. Most organisations discover the number of vehicles they have is adequate and that there are in fact surplus vehicles that can be retired from the fleet with zero impact on operational capability.

4. Are you under pressure to reduce costs?

The right shared fleet management solution can deliver cost savings without reducing operational capability. There are two prime areas to focus on, maximising utilisation and monitoring fuel use. Smartrak’s solution has tools to address both.

Maximised utilisation

Ensuring that vehicles spend as much time as possible in use will help drive cost savings by identifying whether you have too many vehicles in the fleet. When we talk with prospective customers about our solutions, having too many vehicles is hardly ever on their radar. Yet organisations using PoolCar frequently succeed in reducing the size of their fleets with no adverse impact on operations. This is due to a booking system that maximises every timeslot in a day and can prioritise certain vehicles to test the fleet’s capability to do more with less.

Monitoring fuel use

There are several ways to bring down fuel costs. Asking questions about trip requests to ensure journeys are necessary in the first place is a good start, as is accurately measuring fuel consumption versus milage for each vehicle. Linking the fuel card system, you use to the booking solution will also close any gaps in fuel use visibility by highlighting abnormal fuel use and how much fuel is consumed outside of work hours.

5. Do multiple departments have access to fleet vehicles?

If your fleet is subject to the control of different departments, there is the possibility that some vehicles will be underutilised while demand is strong elsewhere. Combining all vehicles within a shared pool eliminates this situation. With PoolCar, Fleet Managers will still have the availability to create separate pools within the booking system. These can reflect the requirements of a particular department, alongside gaining visibility and accountability across all resources.

Attributing costs to different departments can also be a challenge of shared fleets. PoolCar can capture cost centre codes with each booking request, so you can keep track of vehicle use across departments and projects.

6. Is vehicle service and maintenance the responsibility of the Fleet Manger?

Making sure vehicles are compliant with road user regulations, are meeting their service schedules, and maintained to reduce the likelihood of breakdowns are often underestimated elements of a Fleet Manger’s responsibilities. Smartrak’s solution automates this process through scheduled reminders to ensure service dates are met and the fleet’s operational capability is maintained.

Additionally, the booking solution can provide reminders of pre-start checks (tyre pressures, coolant levels, lights etc.) that will further support operational capability and safety.

7. Does your fleet include specialist vehicles?

It’s an advantage to have all vehicles in the fleet represented within a single booking solution. This ensures the reporting functionality to keep up to date with maintenance, measure operational use, capture cost centre information and a range of other factors is available across all assets.

To enable this, Smartrak’s solution has the capability to segment a fleet. Fleet Managers can place specific types of vehicles in their own pools, with access restricted to authorised personnel or specific departments. 

8. Are there occasions when you deal with traffic or parking infringements?

When infringements or parking tickets land on your desk, confidently determining who is responsible can be a challenge. Especially when the infringement lands on your desk weeks after the event. And if you can’t uncover who is responsible, the organisation ends up taking the blame. With Smartrak’s solution it’s easy to report on the day and time in question and know with complete confidence who was driving a particular vehicle at the time the infringement occurred.

9. Are vehicles taken home for private use?

There are a range of aspects to be considered when vehicles are used for purposes other than work. These can include keeping track of fuel use, FBT reporting and service scheduling. Including these vehicles in the booking solution provides access to reporting on all these elements. This provides a true measure of the cost to the company and the value to the individual of providing vehicles for private use.

Vehicle useage policy template

10. Do you have a Vehicle Use Policy?

A Vehicle Use Policy (VUP) sets out how employees can access and use company vehicles; it helps to formalise your organisation’s expectations around company vehicle use and eliminate any confusion. The VUP can also be a valuable aid in protecting your organisation’s image with the public, by setting standards that cover driving the vehicle safely and keeping it clean.

Putting your organisation’s expectations in writing (within a VUP) means they are more likely to be adhered to and a vehicle management solution can be an important support too. Reinforcing your organisation’s expectations through an automated call-out on bookings reminds drivers before every journey about their obligations under the VUP.

If your organisation doesn’t currently have a VUP you can download our template to get you started.

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