Commercial Vehicles 2007

Fleet Management Services

Signing up with a fleet management service so you don't have to hire an extra employee or double up employee duties is a popular option for entrepreneurs. Taking on the daily task of running your fleet, these strategic and tactical management programs and flexible outsourcing solutions save time--no costly overruns and specific expertise in all areas of fleet management add up to optimal fleet performance.

Though many automakers focus fleet services on maintenance and repairs, a number of companies take their services a step further. GM's Business Choice offers an upfit cash-back program, giving you money back when you purchase or lease a vehicle and install shelving, cabinets or other interior accessories to suit vehicles to your business's needs. Business Choice offers several other options to help entrepreneurs equip their GM vehicles; check them out at www.gmbusinesschoice.com .

GE also offers fleet management assistance. Its Commercial Finance Fleet Services helps you overcome your time, capital, system infrastructure and growth challenges. Enterprise car rental agency offers fleet services for companies with 15 to 125 vehicles. It customizes programs to include acquisitions, insurance, fuel cards, financing and maintenance.

Some companies specialize in fleet management services. FleetRisk Advisors analyzes driver and vehicle data from onboard telematics, a key trend in understanding how vehicles are used and reducing costs by determining high-risk situations such as driver fatigue to decrease claim-causing accidents. Mercury Associates handles large and small fleets. It analyzes your business and its organization and staffing to assess your needs. PHH Arval's truck fleet experts provide consultations on the best ways to run your fleet and maximize the service life of your vehicles. They also advise on purchasing, leasing and upfit options.

If you'd prefer to manage your fleet in-house, fuel management programs can save you time and money. Determine your potential fuel savings with the calculator at www.fleet-central.com . Even something as simple as keeping track of odometer readings and fuel, via software programs, can help your fleet become more efficient and productive.

Fleet management software such as Navtrak, a GPS-based mobile work force management tool, allows you to monitor your fleet in real time. Check out other software options at www.capterra.com, which provides descriptions of dozens of web-based fleet management solutions for general and specific businesses. FleetCommander shows graphic displays of vehicle use and status, while Andronics enables companies to locate and manage vehicle fleets of any size. ManagerPlus monitors performance based on fuel and/or oil consumption, analyzes trends and spots recurrent problems.

Another way to manage your company fleet yourself and keep an eye on fuel costs and overruns is to issue driver fuel cards. Most of the oil companies, including Arco, BP and Chevron, provide cards, along with predetermined restrictions you can place on them. Check if the cards you choose offer discounts on the fuel price at the pump. Visa Fleet's card customizes individual cards, tracks fleet-related expenses, integrates spending data directly into your company's accounting systems and handles tax compliance, regulatory reporting and cost management.

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This article was originally published in the December 2006 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Ready to Roll.

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