As a fleet manager, you probably feel like you need to be constantly replacing your cars, light trucks, and vans. Vehicles inevitably age, and as they do, maintenance costs increase and productivity/availability decreases. And we all know, that puts pressure on a fleet’s operating efficiencies.
Like any smart operator, you want your replacement vehicles to arrive into your fleet with predictability. So, managing their acquisition (lease, buy, rent) is essential to the life-blood of your organization.
That’s where factory ordering comes in.
Factory ordering your vehicles is key to reducing costs and increasing availability. However, if you don’t do it right, this process can be frustrating. It can also have serious consequences for your company’s productivity.
To that end, we put together these tips to help you avoid headaches, and help improve your factory order-to-delivery times (OTD). These strategies apply whether you are ordering a fleet of cars, vans, or pickup trucks, and will help ensure a smooth ride for your fleet all year long.
How to Optimize Your Factory Order Vehicle Delivery Times
1. Order early in the year to avoid delays
Timing is a critical component when ordering a new car from the factory, and it’s important to be aware of the manufacturing limitations of OEMs. While many fleet managers order late in the year to take advantage of higher resale values, this puts stress on the manufacturer to meet the influx of orders. The inevitable result? Frustrating delays when the vehicles are to be delivered in the spring.
Bottom line: the earlier in the year you order, the more likely you will receive the vehicles you need, right when you need them.
2. Keep up to date with manufacturers’ production schedules
You probably already know which types of vehicles you’ll be ordering. Take the time to find out when these vehicles are being manufactured. All OEMs publish production schedules, so it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with their “cycles” to optimize your ordering process. If you can’t access this information, reach out to a fleet management provider to facilitate the process.
3. Want the best vehicle? Be open to alternatives
Once you’ve reviewed the OEM’s production schedule, you may discover that your preferred vehicle does not have an upcoming production date. Or you may notice the production schedule has changed from previous years, and no longer aligns with your remarketing cycle. This may initially appear to be a challenge, and will force you to consider alternate models. But who knows? It may, in fact, be a blessing in disguise, and you might discover other models that can improve performance.
4. Lead times are critical: get organized well in advance
Vehicle production varies from year to year and from make to model. We believe it’s critical to understand the OEM’s production times. Maybe you need to do some vehicle upfitting that will provide your team with a competitive advantage. If so, you’ll need to allow for that time in the delivery cycle. And finally, if your company policy allows for driver ordering, then you’ll need to account for the time drivers need to participate in the process. Save yourself the headache by scheduling in extra time in advance.
5. Consult a fleet management professional
Getting professional advice from a fleet management provider can make the factory ordering process so much easier. A fleet provider can inform you of vehicle production issues not yet made public. Additionally, they can analyze your fleet to make recommendations for a replacement strategy that best suits your needs. Bonus: they might even buy you a cup of coffee! The advice you’ll receive over that coffee will have lasting influence on your fleet’s performance.
At Foss National Leasing, we have a team ready to provide strategic consultation for the ordering, scheduling, and the OEM production process.
There is a lot to consider for improving the OTD times for fleet vehicles. But it all comes down to this simple truth: new car delivery time depends largely on when the vehicles are ordered.
Keep on top of seasonal manufacturing cycles by ordering vehicles early in the year. Get your hands on your OEM’s production schedule, so you can plan and optimize the ordering process. Plan for variables like driver input and vehicle upfitting to ensure everything stays on schedule. And finally, don’t hesitate to reach out to a fleet management professional, who is instrumental in streamlining the whole process.
Article by Deborah Pavao