Do you know what the five benefits of benchmarking your fleet operations are? Find out in today's episode of #UtilimarcFleetFYIs
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Gretchen Reese (00:19):
Welcome to the Fleet FYIs podcast, the weekly podcast by Utilimarc that reveals how you can make the most of your data for smarter fleet management. My name is Gretchen, and every week, I'll be sharing with you not only over two decades worth of data insights, but some of the industry's hottest talking points and key metric analysis with the aim to help you better understand your fleet from every angle. Before we begin, if this is the first time you've heard our show, thanks for stopping by. Once you've finished today's episode, if you could take a few minutes to leave us a review on your favorite podcasting platform, I would really appreciate it. Give us a rating, five stars, I hope, or tell us what you liked, or leave us a comment or a question about what you've heard in today's episode. If we haven't yet covered a topic that you're interested in hearing more about, let us know. We would be happy to go over it in detail in a later episode. Let's dig in.
Hello everyone, and welcome back to another episode of the Fleet FYIs podcast. Today is going to be a bit of a database episode for you, and I think it's an interesting one to touch on, especially now because now is the time where there's a lot of folks that are really interested in not only setting new goals, but also measuring their performance as to how they were stacking up over the last year and seeing where their progress is, continually measuring trends, that sort of thing. I think January and February are always a really good season to start to do that, to reflect on some of the choices that your organization has made over the previous year, see what worked, what didn't. And for that reason, I wanted to talk about benchmarking today, and also why there are some very specific benefits as to why benchmarking your fleet is either very important, or something that potentially you should consider.
And I think that the question here, it starts at where your fleet actually stacks up, right? Have you ever wondered, just in general, if you haven't measured it before, where your fleet actually does stack up against industry averages? It's a big question, and it can be a little bit daunting. But when you look at operational data and fleet size or mechanic performance and quartile performance, benchmarking actually allows you to better understand your data from a really big picture view, and that's really what I want to get at during today's episode. Your fleet's benchmark data is a key piece of information that gives you an insight into how your fleet is performing year over year, like I mentioned, and specifically when it comes to asset performance and operational costs, which are two very huge portions of how a fleet actually runs.
So let's start off with what an accurate peer-to-peer benchmark actually is, because I think that's something that isn't always covered when we're talking about benchmarking in itself. And an accurate peer-to-peer benchmark helps you not only understand where you are within the industry. Obviously that, or to me, that seems a bit like a given. You're comparing yourself to your peers exactly, but it actually delves into your data and measures whether or not your fleet meets the industry norm. So where you can see if you are the outlier or if there's other folks that are the outlier and you're pretty consistent industry wide. Benchmarking can also shed light on how today's actions might affect your finances and your operations down the line. And in theory, benchmarking application or benchmarking software, whomever you use to do your benchmarking itself, it should standardize your data, first and foremost, which then allows you to clearly set data-driven goals and objectives that aid in the optimization of your fleet, as well as actually shed light on how you stack up internally. So benchmarking yourself year over year, but also against other fleets.
You can look at comparisons by asset class, depending on if that's something you're interested in to see across the industry. If you're looking at asset mix, if you're looking at size of fleet, regions of operation, there's so many things you can pull from. And I think that's where benchmarking really starts to get interesting here, because when you identify areas that you're either doing really well in or you're not doing well in, you can really drive change in the following year by using, say for example, a fleet analytics solution that's powered by telematics and operational data, or you can really enhance your own internal analytics to measure daily performance and set goals by benchmark data alone, which brings me into my next point, what insights can fleets actually gather from a benchmark, or fleet managers actually gather from a benchmark, because I'm sure that's a big question that still pops around in a lot of folks' heads, right? Well, like I said, benchmarking your fleet can provide you with many valuable insights when it comes to bettering your fleet management strategy. And it's not just about insights about your fleet from a company-wide view.
Instead, it's when you benchmark your fleet against the industry standard, you can find anomalies really quickly, identify performance standards, and so much more than that, many fleet managers use benchmarking data to hone in on the assets that they spend the most money on, which I mean that's pretty common, in all honesty. And more often than not, these fleet managers are utilizing this data to look at the assets that drive the most change within their organizations. So this could be an outlier in a quartile based performance system on the industry average, either good, bad, poor, or excellent. And whether that be in utilization, mechanic hours, those are two pretty common ones, or one can even begin to understand what key performance indicators point to the reason as to why a certain vehicle class in their fleet may be within the limits of an unsatisfactory quartile. And the thing that I would really like to touch on here is that whether or not you're using industry benchmarking data, beginning by doing an internal benchmark can aid in identifying mechanic productivity or can help your fleet improve driver behavior purely by understanding year over year performance.
All right, now what you're all here for, the benefits of benchmarking your fleet. So what exactly are the benefits? What is the whole point of using all of this data to your advantage? Well, when you use your benchmarking data, you'll also be able to understand your fleet from the inside out, but don't just take my word for it, please. Benchmarking data can also give you many things, the first of which, like I've been touching on a little bit in this episode prior, has been the ability to see where you stand within a standardized field. And the question is, if you've ever wondered whether or not your data was being used in a clean, high quality, industry wide comparison, the industry benchmark is a way of comparing best practices against what you're already doing within your fleets' operations. It's not just something that says you're doing well or you're doing poorly.
It actually can take your current operational practices and move them into a way that you can see a bigger picture from how your current practices or your current operations will affect your fleet down the line. You'll also be able to better identify gaps in performance and potentially gain a competitive advantage from simply understanding just where you measure up, which I think is the best value of a benchmark in general. And a benchmark can actually be applied to any facet of your fleet's operations, like I had said. So from maintenance to vehicle class, processed product benchmark's always a good idea in my opinion. And the second piece to this, and I think it kind of goes hand in hand here, is that you have a keen eye to identify areas for improvement, and there's always going to be new ways to better optimize your fleet and operational standards.
That happens as times modernize and technology advances, vehicles advance, fuel advances. That just happens. And understanding your fleet from the bottom up by deeply diving into your data can help you create and measure goals in the future, especially when you take into account future technologies that are constantly emerging, and this is where you're looking at financials to operational process. You can look at what others in your industry are doing. This could be your peers or your competitors. You can see what they are or what you are doing, and you can apply it to your own strategy, and you can even make your fleet more competitive in that sense. And I know all of these benefits are going to lead into each other, so I'll say it again, this leads into the next point of the ability to understand fleet data trends. The fleet industry is trends just like any other, and it's super important to stay on top of them.
I think most of the folks listening to the show today will definitely be able to relate to that. If you take the Ford Crown Victoria, for example, it might be a while since some of us have seen those out and about, but as the Crown Victoria model was removed from most police fleets, they began moving from sedans to marked SUVs. And though it was a cheap and spacious and powerful enough for its use, it was extremely dated in regard to updated technology and power capacity. This is the Crown Vic we're talking about here. It was slower and less easy to maneuver than the other four doors, as well as being prone to gas tank ruptures, which because of this, Ford began to make better options for police fleets and as a result to move from the Crown Vic to other models like the interceptor, the F-150, or the Edge was an easy one, and that all came from being able to measure trends and seeing how these vehicles were actually performing in the real world.
So there's some operational improvements, and there's even some logistical improvements too. Because now, let's be honest here, how often do we see a Crown Vic still out on the streets? It's not very often, or I should say it's less often than if you were to see an interceptor, an F-150 or an Edge. Now the interesting thing here, I think, is to be able to see mechanic productivity at a high level. It's not just the vehicles that we're benchmarking. It's not just the assets that we're benchmarking. It's also the folks that are working on them and making sure that they're able to do everything they can to continually improve as well. So the question here is, are your mechanics measuring their time effectively and tracking their time to a unit, or are they generalizing their reported hours? How many vehicles or assets are they expected to support?
If you look at your maintenance, if it's outsourced or if it's in-house from a high level, benchmarking can help you answer these questions, and it can also give you a leg up when it comes to making decisions for your fleet. Maybe it's you do want to keep your maintenance in-house, or maybe if you do have it outsourced, it gives you a better idea as to which outsourced mechanics are performing the best, this could be a really good look in here. And I think this also... This is my last point here. It really gives you the insights that you need to slice your data to meet your fleet's exact needs. And this is what I mean when I say that it's very tailored to you, or it can be moved around depending on the way your operations are already set up. Sometimes a comparison really doesn't help.
I'm going to throw that out there. Sometimes a comparison doesn't help. When you compare a similar class of vehicle rather than the exact same, or when you're comparing your LA base fleet to one in the Midwest that experiences more rust because of harsher weather conditions. When you create to comparisons, your data becomes much more effective. We don't want to be comparing apples to oranges here because that's not helpful. That's not helpful in the long run. It's not giving you a true big picture view. We want to actually compare the things that are related and that actually work. So that's where... When I say sometimes a comparison doesn't help, it's usually because it's the wrong one. And I think that's where... If you're taking a benchmark, it should always be tailorable and customizable to you and your exact needs and your fleet's needs. Because if it's not, then you're not getting everything out of it that you probably should be.
I would love to hear from you though. I'm curious. If you have any questions on benchmarking or if there's more about benchmarks that you'd like to learn about, let me know. You can send me an email, you can tag me on LinkedIn, you can use the hashtag UtilimarcFleetFYIs, or you can even send me a carrier pigeon should you feel like it. But I think benchmarking is a really interesting topic, and I think it's a really important one to touch on, especially as we start to modernize technology and start to go forward, especially with new sustainability practices that are being enacted every single day, new policies, new fuel types, all of this. Being able to understand trends as they are and where they are, all of it is going to be so important going forward. So if you do have any questions, please do let me know. I would love to be able to help answer them, or potentially even use them to delve into in a later show. Anyways, that is all from me this week. I will see you again next Friday with another episode of Fleet FYIs. Ciao.
Hey, there. It's me again. I think it's time to cue the virtual High five because you've just finished listening to another episode of the Fleet FYIs podcast. If you're already wanting more on all things fleet and vehicle technology, head over to utilimarc.com, which is Utilimarc with a C, U-T-I-L-I-M-A-R-C.com for this episode show notes and extra insights coming straight from our analyst to you. That's all from me this week, so until next time, I'll catch you later.