Outsourced Fleet: Fleet Leasing and Fleet Management Companies
Outsourcing your fleet is expensive but can bring a good ROI to your business. There are companies that provide opportunities to lease vehicles or have them manage your company-owned vehicles.
If your core business and its employees require automotive vehicles, you may be in the market for finding the best possible fleet maintenance and management solutions. Let’s face it: overseeing your entire stock of fleet vehicles can be exhausting. Rather than overextending your payroll by hiring an in-house fleet manager, outsourcing this kind of work is the more practical way to go. The question is, what kind of fleet technology does your business require to revolutionize its maintenance and management needs?
The answer is, of course, context-dependent. You need to understand which of the various aspects of your fleet program you’d like to outsource to an external party and why. Are vehicle provisions your primary concern, or are you primarily interested in software for tracking driver behavior and driver safety?
Given the complexity of these matters, this article will not pretend to offer all the answers. Still, it will instead help you ask the right questions by discussing the basics of outsourced fleet management, including the largest fleet management companies, and how to negotiate commercial fleet leasing.
What is Outsourced Fleet Management?
Outsourced fleet management describes hiring a third-party company to handle some or all of the tasks related to your fleet of vehicles. Several types of companies handle specific elements of fleet management solutions.
Fleet leasing providers: These provide leased vehicles to you for a fixed period and a monthly fee. This is an alternative to buying a fleet, which can be costly and risky.
Fleet management companies (FMCs): These companies manage leased or owned fleets for their clients. FMCs can manage maintenance, repairs, fuel, insurance, registration, legal compliance, and more. They can also provide reports and analytics on your fleet’s performance and costs.
Fleet management software: This is the most practical option for responsibly managing leasing providers. This outsourced SaaS provides a platform to monitor and optimize your leased or owned fleet. Typically, you can take advantage of the reports offered by this software, which take stock of and analyze essential metrics such as mileage, driver downtime and behavior, maintenance needs, and more.
Who are the Largest Fleet Management Companies (FMCs)?
The market is oversaturated with companies that offer outsourced fleet management services. All of them are tried-and-true fleet experts capable of optimizing fleet safety and increasing cost savings by managing things like emissions and asset lifecycles.
Wheels Inc.: Wheels is a privately owned FMC with over 1,000 employees; they manage more than 325,000 vehicles in North America—undoubtedly an impressive enterprise with an extensive reach. It is one of the oldest and most renowned fleet service providers in the United States. It offers a vast roster of fleet solutions, including leasing, maintenance, fuel cards, insurance programs, driver services, vehicle acquisition and disposal, fleet administration, and more.
Element Fleet Management: This is one of the leading global fleet service providers, with over 2700 employees and 3 million vehicles in over 50 countries. Like the previously mentioned FMCs, this company provides a comprehensive range of fleet solutions, including leasing, telematics, remarketing, and much more.
ARI Fleet Management: This is another major FMC, with over 2 million vehicles under its auspices in more than 40 countries, including the US, Canada, and Japan. It offers customized and integrated fleet solutions, including leasing, maintenance, risk management, compliance, and driver support.
What Is a Fleet and Fleet Management System?
A fleet is a group of vehicles whose function is to undertake tasks on behalf of a company, while a management system is a set of software tools that FMCs use to manage their fleets or that third parties use to manage the fleets of their clients. Fleet management systems provide a range of features that aid companies as they track and monitor vehicles, schedule maintenance tasks, optimize routes and fuel usage, and manage expenses. In short, they help companies optimize the efficiency and cost-effectiveness of their fleet operations. Fleet management systems can also help companies reduce costs by automating many routine tasks and providing real-time visibility into fleet operations.
What Are Fleet Leasing Providers?
Fleet leasing providers offer leasing services for fleets of vehicles, usually offering a wide range of leasing options and services to organizations no matter the fleet size being sought out. Companies in need of smaller fleets often benefit from these kinds of providers. But so too do larger enterprises, especially those requiring niche vehicles. For example, first responders like police, fire, and ambulance services are known to use fleet leasing services simply because the unique nature of these vehicles demands a great deal of upkeep, too much for any internal fleet managers to maintain efficiently.
When negotiating commercial fleet leasing, you must understand all the items—line-by-line—you agree to pay for. Sometimes, lease bills can be tricky, so it’s always good to take a second look at the fine print and shop around for transparent and cost-effective deals. Some common fleet cost line items include average monthly lease payments, insurance, maintenance, and fleet manager staff costs.
If your industry doesn’t need specialty vehicles, consider a vehicle reimbursement program instead. This program reimburses employees for the business use of their personal cars and can be a more cost-effective solution for companies that don’t require a dedicated fleet of vehicles.
What are Fleet Management Companies (FMCs)?
Fleet Management Companies (FMCs) specialize in managing fleets of vehicles for businesses and organizations. FMCs provide services for companies that rely on a fleet of vehicles for their businesses to flourish. Some even offer fleet leasing services or partner with leasing companies to provide comprehensive solutions for your fleet needs.
Much like the specialties that leasing providers cater to, there are also FMCs for particular vehicles. Truck fleet management companies, for instance, account for the many needs that 18-wheelers or construction vehicles may have, as opposed to the generally simple requisites of an everyday courier van. Truck-oriented companies prioritize the logistics needed for long-distance route optimization, cargo tracking, driver safety training and other certifications, and compliance management to help trucking companies operate more efficiently.
Can You Outsource All of Your Fleet Management?
While it is possible to outsource many, if not most, aspects of fleet management to certain FMCs, many responsibilities must be accounted for in doing so. For example, there’s still the question of inter-employee vehicle transfers. Additionally, if you run a niche company, you will want specific vehicle policies for your team to maintain safety and brand protocols according to your specific standards—not those of a third party. Sometimes, issues can only be handled with integrity if you or an in-house representative are a part of the process.
Overall, outsourcing fleet management can be a valuable tool for companies that need to operate a fleet of vehicles. By working with an FMC, companies can improve the efficiency and cost-effectiveness of their fleet operations while still retaining control over critical aspects of their fleet management program.
Whether you decide on outsourcing fleet management to an FMC or using fleet leasing services, either route will invariably bring many benefits to the table. But, as is always the case in business, outsourcing is not the be-all-end-all of company matters. It’s useful to remember that there is an alternative to outsourced fleet management. Vehicle reimbursement programs are the go-to for those wishing to keep issues within the walls of their own proverbial home. These kinds of programs manage your employees’ vehicles when they drive them for work purposes. If you want to learn more about fleet management and leasing, please read our complete fleet guide.
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