5 tips to avoid the headaches of public fleet procurement

public fleet procurement

From missing resource challenges to hairpin deadlines, public procurement officers are facing more challenges than ever before. This is overwhelmingly true for fleet management professionals, as recessionary conditions continue to worsen in 2023.

But headaches in the world of public procurement aren't necessarily preordained. Obstacles and challenges, while ever present, can be mitigated with preparatory planning and a firm reliance on contemporary developments.

Sidestepping the pitfalls of public fleet procurement begins with an awareness of modern solutions.

Common reasons for headaches in public fleet procurement

There are three primary concerns shaping the role of the public procurement manager:

  1. “Buy Local” requirements: Public organizations may be required to purchase a certain amount of vehicles from local dealers. Most government institutions have requirements of 5% or more, which could burden the budget of small organizations.
  2. Long lead times: Order-to-delivery (OTD) times have slowly expanded over the past few decades, reaching a fever pitch in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Today, lead times have risen from eight to twelve months to eighteen to twenty-four months on average, not including specialty vehicles like fire trucks or police cars.
  3. Inflating costs: Recent hikes in American interest rates have sent fleet management costs through the roof. Research suggests that it costs roughly 18.7 cents per mile to repair and maintain specialized fleets. If you have ten vehicles driving 6,000 miles per year, your annual costs may be $11,200 or more.

The headaches of public fleet procurement cannot be fully eliminated. Nevertheless, there are strategies that can alleviate ongoing pressure and neutralize possible pitfalls.

Five ways to streamline public fleet procurement

Whether you’re an industry veteran or an up-and-coming beginner, use these five strategies to avoid potential headaches during the public fleet procurement process.

1. Forecast the lifespan of your vehicles early

Your fleet vehicles will eventually reach a tipping point, where they cost more to maintain than to replace. A lifecycle cost analysis (LCA) can help you quickly address these problems and identify the best time to buy a new asset.

You can always perform an LCA manually with a few Excel formulas. However, if you're looking to save additional time and money, you may want to invest in an e-fleet management tool.

2. Integrate with an e-fleet management tool

Digitizing your fleet procurement process can save time, money, and countless headaches as your institution strategizes for the future. You can easily reduce errors from manual entry, spend less money on paper, and lose fewer files and documents by leaning into a single source.

Just be careful to integrate with the right e-fleet tool for your needs. Remember, not all platforms are created equal!

3. Rely on tracking software to reduce surprises

Surprises in the world of public fleet procurement are rarely fun or happy. Fortunately, you can rely on tracking software to reduce the unknowable and increase your overall efficiency.

There are several use cases for telematics in public fleets. For example, you can automate the reconciliation process and ensure that all your documents match.

4. Shift your focus from “cost” to “value”

Cheaper does not always equal better in the world of procurement. Rather than asking, “how much does this cost?,” consider the other side of the equation: “how much is this valued?”

Before buying vehicles, you may want to perform:

  • Historical data analysis
  • Needs analysis
  • Cost comparison

5. Rely on cooperative contracts to source vehicles quickly

Cooperative contracts are purchasing agreements that aggregate demand between two or more public entities. Used correctly, they can eliminate long wait times from traditional contracting and speed up OTD for public fleets.

The power of cooperative contracts is extremely well-documented. Your organization may spend three months on a bid versus two weeks with a cooperative contract. If you partner with Sourcewell, you can access these contracts for free.

How to browse cooperative contracts available near you

Sourcewell supports governments and education entities with applicable cooperative contracts for fleet managers and CPOs. It services the entire United States with hundreds of contracts and has trained specialists to help you make the best decision for your public agency. Fleet managers from all over the US rely on Sourcewell to streamline their traditional procurement processes, all at no extra cost.

Cooperative contracts from Sourcewell are:

  • Zero cost: You don't pay anything to get set up in the system. The only time that you'll spend money is to secure products and services with suppliers.
  • Zero commitment: You're not locked into an ongoing system nor forced to buy from a single set of suppliers. You have complete control over your fleet procurement process and reserve the right to leverage local dealers or national suppliers.
  • Zero location restrictions in the US: Every public institution in the United States has access to cooperative contracts from Sourcewell.

As long as you meet basic eligibility requirements, you can access Sourcewell's cooperative contract listings within minutes.

Here at Sourcewell, we help public agency buyers procure fleet vehicles faster by fulfilling the time-consuming bid process for them. Through cooperative contracts, we expedite the fleet vehicle procurement process so you can better serve your teams.

Want a faster procurement process? Contact one of our specialists today to buy the fleet solutions you need!