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smart-fleets Aug-23

Best Practices for Managing a Shared Vehicle Pool

How many vehicles does your organization use every day? What about weekly? Monthly?

According to Mike Hicks, vice president of marketing for Agile Fleet (, these can be challenging questions for prospective clients to answer.

“For many organizations, it can be difficult to track what vehicles are owned, where they are, their condition and mileage, whether or not they’ve been maintained, and so on,” he said.

In terms of solutions, managing a shared vehicle pool – a group of centrally controlled vehicles dispatched for use when needed – through a fleet management information system can help to provide these insights, in addition to cost savings, timely maintenance, reduced downtime, vehicle flexibility, minimized risk and fuel reporting.

So, how can fleets effectively run a shared vehicle pool? Hicks shared the following pointers in a recent interview with UFP.

Get the Most Out of Your Fleet
The more vehicles you have, the more money you typically spend. “Every vehicle in your lot comes with carrying costs, and if you can encapsulate the savings to be realized through eliminating vehicles, you can quantify the short- and long-term benefits of a motor pool,” Hicks explained.

A fleet’s utilization rate represents vehicle demand relative to capacity – that is, how many vehicles are being used relative to how many are owned. Many organizations strive for an 80% utilization rate, Hicks said.

The best way to determine the optimal number, types and locations of vehicles in a motor pool is through reviewing vehicle utilization data, ideally over a period long enough to notice seasonal patterns and changes among different groups.

“Based on this information, you might change the composition of your fleet, move different classes of vehicles to locations with peak demand, or set preferences for different vehicle types to different departments,” Hicks said.

Make it Easy for Drivers
Drivers may be concerned that vehicles readily available to them now will be made less available if they are required to access them through a motor pool.

Hicks advised that fleets should provide “a frictionless experience” when drivers are attempting to access vehicles, with vehicle reservation and key dispatch processes similar to the ease of printing a boarding pass in an airport.

“When users log in, they can simply select a vehicle, set a pickup time, confirm a couple of options, and grab a key through an automated kiosk or dispatch desk,” he explained. “Ideally, users would also have the ability to grab and go, wherein they can log in without a reservation, select a vehicle and walk away with a vehicle key.”

In either case, confirming their options should take less than a minute, and with the appropriate credentials, the whole process is secure with a full audit trail.

An effective vehicle reservation platform will also build company policy communication and acceptance into the reservation and key dispatch processes. Users will be prompted to read and accept the policy before completing the processes.

Minimize Maintenance Interruptions
Taking vehicles out of rotation for maintenance or repairs can interrupt a fleet’s ability to provide vehicles to its customers. If there are a limited number of available vehicles, maintenance may mean a work stoppage.

“When we share vehicles, fleet management staff assume responsibility for all elements of vehicle maintenance and repair,” Hicks said. “Fleet managers own the preventive maintenance schedule, coordinate work with the garage, handle payment for services, document work performed and all other items related to maintenance. Most importantly, a shared motor pool means that drivers never have to stop working when maintenance comes due.”

To manage the inspection, maintenance and cleaning of pool vehicles, organizations are best served by using a maintenance management software tool. When used well, maintenance events can be triggered both by time, as with inspections, or by use, as with preventive maintenance like oil changes.

“An effective system will leverage data recorded through trip logging to automatically trigger maintenance events to occur,” Hicks said. “These triggered events can then send automated emails to fleet management staff, drivers and other stakeholders so that vehicles are brought in for work on time. A good system will also allow fleet maintenance staff to check vehicles out of rotation in the motor pool for work and then check them back in as work is completed.”

Ensure Policies are Enforced
Establishing, communicating and enforcing motor pool policy can go a long way toward assuring safety, mitigating risk and running your fleet operation in a cost-effective manner.

“A well-crafted policy will establish boundaries for acceptable behavior and guidelines for best practices with respect to the use of fleet vehicles,” Hicks said. “A policy will define drivers’ required licensure and insurance as well as any safety training requirements for use of specific classes of vehicles. By ensuring that only trained, licensed and insured drivers get behind the wheel, organizations can mitigate their risk and provide documentation of compliance should accidents occur.”

From a cost-efficiency perspective, an organization’s policy can serve to set guidelines for the selection of vehicles. These may include limits on the use of personal vehicles; a requirement that the lowest-cost vehicle available for a given job is selected; minimum mileage requirements for the assignment of vehicles to a person or department; and limits on the use of vehicles through the end of their economic life.
Hicks said it’s important that the policy remains a living document. “It must evolve alongside the needs and makeup of the organization. A good vehicle-sharing platform will force drivers to regularly review and accept policy as part of the vehicle dispatch process. This ensures that drivers have accepted the most recent version of the policy.”

Keeping current with policy communication and enforcement – as well as regularly checking drivers’ motor vehicle records, insurance and licensure with the means to interrupt the dispatch of keys – will serve to mitigate risk. And with a software tool in place, interrupting key dispatch and communicating policy can happen automatically.

About the Author: Grace Suizo has been covering the automotive fleet industry since 2007. She spent six years as an editor for five fleet publications and has written more than 100 articles geared toward both commercial and public sector fleets.


Grace Suizo

Grace Suizo has been covering the automotive fleet industry since 2007. She spent six years as an editor for five fleet publications and has written more than 100 articles geared toward both commercial and public sector fleets.