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The ABCs of Fleet Performance Metrics

The gold standard of fleet success is to provide a high level of service at a reasonable cost. The only way to know if your fleet is living up to that standard is to track key fleet performance metrics—like availability rate and total operation costs. 

Surprisingly, many fleet managers aren’t measuring fleet performance yet. They work hard to keep the fleet running efficiently, but they only think about performance data when someone higher up asks for a report. They’re missing out on all the value that measuring the right performance metrics can add to their organizations.

When we talk to fleet managers who haven’t yet started tracking fleet analytics, we find it’s usually because they either don’t realize the benefits, aren’t sure what to measure, or are intimidated by the process. 

But we know that tracking fleet performance metrics is critical to fleet success. So we put together this guide to break it all down. It covers:

  • Reasons to measure fleet performance
  • The most important fleet performance metrics to track
  • A four-step planning process to get started
  • Communicating your fleet performance plan
  • Setting a regular reporting schedule

5 Reasons You Should Measure Fleet Performance

We’re not big fans of “good enough.” Every fleet manager should aim to build a better organization over time. If you’re not tracking fleet performance metrics, you have no way of knowing if you’re getting better, worse, or maintaining the status quo. 

Like fleet expert Tony Yankovic says, “You’ve got to keep score to win.”

If you’re still on the fence about whether you should invest the time and energy into measuring your fleet’s performance, at least one of these five reasons should seal the deal. 

1. Be proactive, not reactive.

Tracking fleet performance delivers insights that empower you to be a more proactive leader. You can gauge whether or not the organization will reach its goals. And you can identify potential issues before they become problems. 

2. Assess strengths and weaknesses.

The right fleet performance metrics will give you insight into the organization’s strengths and weaknesses so you can make smart strategic decisions. Measuring performance will help you answer questions like:

  • Do you double down on strengths or try to avoid some of the weaknesses? 
  • Where’s the best place to allocate resources?
  • How can you optimize your operations? Where can you get better by 1 or 2 or 10 percent? 

3. Build accountability into your culture.

Data facilitates accountability; accountability leads to performance. Setting org-level, department-level, and individual KPIs gives everyone clear expectations. 

If your drivers know they need to get their vehicles into the shop for their PM checks and your techs know that they have a target SRT for every repair—and those performance metrics are visible to the entire organization—everyone is more motivated to do their part.

4. Build trust with leadership.

 Whether it’s the CEO, CFO, or city/county/state government officials, sharing your fleet’s performance metrics is a powerful way to show leadership what’s really going on inside the organization. 

Highlight your wins. And don’t be afraid to call out the challenges. When the powers that be know you can see the challenges and develop plans to improve, they ultimately have more trust that the fleet is in the right person’s hands. 

5. Build a business case

Data lets you back up your instincts with facts so you can build strong business cases to get the resources you need. 

Trying to get a budget for more techs or a new piece of machinery? Go dig up some data to prove that your standard repair times (SRTs) are increasing. Or call out how many repairs you’ve had to send out to third-party shops.   

The Most Important Fleet Performance Metrics to Track

If our fleet consultants had a dollar for every time a fleet manager asked them “Which fleet performance metrics should we track?” they probably wouldn’t work for us anymore. 

The truth is that it depends on your organization. But fleet experts Tony Yankovic and Marc Canton suggest starting with availability and cost

  • Are your vehicles available? 
  • What’s the operation costing you? 
  • Is that reasonable?

Availability Rate

Your availability rate is the percentage of your assets that are available at any given time. The industry benchmark is 95%, but we firmly believe your goal should be 100%. There should always be a vehicle available when your operators need them.

You can also look at availability rates by customer and asset type, or how many times an asset wasn’t available. If you need more insight into why your availability rate is low, you may need to drill down into work order and shop-level metrics like:

  • the average number of open work orders
  • scheduled vs unscheduled repair rates
  • PM compliance rate

Cost

A lot goes into tracking costs. We’re talking about the cost of labor, parts, assets, tools, facilities overhead, fuel, licensing, administrative costs, etc. 

Our consultants say once you’ve nailed availability and cost, then think about expanding your model. Pick two to five areas that you want to improve, and then focus on the metrics that help you measure the effectiveness of that part of the program.

A 4-Step Planning Process to Measure Fleet Performance

Now that you know why to track your fleet’s performance metrics, it’s time to get to the how. The first step is to build a plan that identifies:

  • what you want to accomplish (Goals & Objectives) 
  • which fleet performance metrics you’re going to measure (i.e. your Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)
  • who will own the process 
  • how you’ll get the data
  • where you stand today

Don’t just talk about it. Write it down. 

Committing your plan to paper, a whiteboard, or some PowerPoint slides will go a long way toward helping you use data to drive fleet performance.

This four-step planning process covers all the basics.

Step 1: Set your objectives.

Objectives are typically big-picture initiatives like delivering exceptional service, reducing operational costs, improving stakeholder satisfaction, or driving a cultural shift. 

Depending on your organization, objectives could be handed down to you from higher-ups. But if no one has yet mandated what improvements you need to make, this is your chance to take the reins. 

A word to the wise—don’t try to focus on everything at once. Pick the two or three things that are most important to your organization.

Step 2: Determine your KPIs.

The next step is figuring out exactly what you need to measure. Too many fleet managers start their analytics journey by trying to track everything. This is a recipe for failure. 

There are hundreds of fleet performance metrics. Just like objectives, you shouldn’t tackle them all. You might only report on five to ten data points to start. 

Choose KPIs that will track progress toward your objectives. 

  • If your objective is to reduce operational costs, then you need to track all direct and indirect costs—labor, parts, facilities fees, etc. 
  • If you’re focused on delivering exceptional service, you’ll want to monitor metrics like comeback rate and SRTs. 

Any shop-level and technician performance metrics should tie to the bigger organizational goals. If your objective is for all your facilities to meet a certain productivity rate, then you need to track the productivity rate in technicians’ performance evaluations. 

Step 3: Identify your process. 

It’s not enough to decide you’re going to track something. The data has to be accessible. Specify where and when you’ll get each data point, and where the data will live.  

  • Where you’ll get the data: You can track most core fleet performance metrics using a fleet management information system (FMIS). Telematics solutions offer another set of data points that lead to better driver outcomes, like fuel efficiency and driver safety.
  • Where the data will live:  This could look like a real-time reporting dashboard or a reports folder on your company drive. Dashboards are great but if your FMIS doesn’t have this capability, setting up a reporting folder in the shared company drive is a good enough solution.
  • Who will do what with the data: If you don’t have access to real-time dashboards, someone may need to manually pull the data and put together a report. Make sure to decide who’s responsible for this. 

More importantly, you need to know who’s in charge of analyzing them. This person will read the outputs from your FMIS and tell the story. They need to understand data, identify trends, and find the puzzle pieces the data reveals. 

Innovative fleets are hiring people for data analyst roles. But that’s a step beyond the ABCs. Once you’ve got a few reporting rounds under your belt, think about hiring someone with some data chops. 

Step 4: Document your baseline and define your goals. 

You can’t measure your progress if you don’t know where you’re starting. Use your reporting framework to document your baseline. This will show you a clear picture of how your fleet is performing today.

Then it’s time to set some goals. Industry benchmarks can help you define goals but they can also be discouraging. The industry standard for PM compliance is 95%. If you’re nowhere near 95%, don’t worry about the benchmark. Just focus on continuous improvement. Set a goal to drive a 5% improvement this quarter, then another 5% next. 

Communicating Your Fleet Performance Plan

Don’t be the person who goes through the exercise of defining objectives and KPIs, establishing a process, and measuring your baseline performance, and then doesn’t communicate that plan to the rest of the team. 

This is your chance to get everyone on the same page—executives, drivers, techs, the whole organization. Get everyone aligned and working toward common goals. Push your plan out to your customers and community. 

Setting a Regular Fleet Performance Reporting Schedule

It’s important to establish a reporting schedule and pull your data regularly. Annually is not enough. We recommend looking at your fleet performance reports quarterly at a minimum. Monthly is better. If you eventually hire someone in a data analyst role, monitoring data daily will be part of their role.

More frequent reporting cadences let you identify potential challenges quickly—before they become big problems. You won’t get that with annual reporting.

Don’t worry. We’re not talking about creating a time-intensive 50-page report. Two to three pages with some charts and graphs to highlight your accomplishments over the past month, quarter, etc.

Your report should tell a story. Don’t just look at numbers. Search for trends. Use mean and median performance to spot anomalies. When you find the story in the numbers, you can pair it with anecdotal information shared by your team or customers to make it more meaningful. 

If you need an FMIS with real-time reporting dashboards and built-in scorecards, check out RTA Web. Hundreds of fleet managers are using it to drive their fleets to peak performance.

 

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