Fleet vehicle upfitting is a common way to add equipment to fleet vehicles with specialized tools and equipment. It's typically meant to help drivers be more efficient and lower the total cost of ownership (TCO). A lot goes into vehicle upfitting, which means you need a strategic plan to complete the project and stay within budget.
What is Vehicle Upfitting?
Vehicle upfitting involves fitting fleet vehicles with specialized equipment meant to meet the driver’s needs, make their job more efficient, and benefit the organization. It can be as simple as adding a toolbox, though more often than not, a number of pieces of equipment will need to be fitted to the vehicle.
Fleet Upfitting Benefits
There are several significant benefits of upfitting your fleet. These benefits include:
- Higher driver retention
- Increased productivity
- Lower total cost of ownership (TCO)
- More ROI
Higher driver retention
When drivers have the tools they need to do their jobs efficiently and effectively and feel like they are a part of the decision-making process, they are less likely to leave. They will want to stay and continue to work for you.
Choosing the right upfits for your fleet vehicles helps your drivers be more productive on the job. Be mindful as you include drivers in the decision-making process that you may only be able to provide some of the upfits they want. In this case, evaluate the value each option provides to your business and take the most common requests to outfit your vehicles.
Lower Total Cost of Ownership
For any fleet manager, the total cost of ownership (TCO) of the fleet is imperative to know. It tells you when vehicles need to be replaced and impacts the entire organization. Upfitting vehicles can have a positive impact on TCO.
Quite often, upfitting vehicles can make them lighter or more aerodynamic. The lighter or more streamlined the vehicle, the more fuel efficient it is. Planning out the upfits for your fleet has the benefit of taking drivers’ needs into account and lowering the overall cost of the fleet. But it’s not a one-size-fits-all scenario. You want to consider the long-term needs of your drivers and the organization.
Fleet management software can help calculate the numbers to determine how your TCO would benefit from fleet upfitting.
Upfitting your fleet vehicles can have the added benefit of increasing your fleet’s ROI. This number is hugely important to fleet managers as it is the main number that executives want to track. Investing in the right upgrades for your fleet can significantly increase the value you get from your fleet.
Fleet Upfitting Examples
There are many ways that a vehicle can be upfitted, but some of the most common include:
- Racks and hooks
- Storage cabinets
- Cab protection
Every company will have different needs for their vehicles. Therefore, you must choose the right upgrades to provide your organization with the best return on investment. This is why you want to meet with your drivers and find out what they need to be more efficient and safer.
Optimizing the Upfitting Process
There’s a lot of planning involved for the fleet manager in an upfitting project. However, the result is a significant increase in efficiency within the organization. While some uplifts are required to allow drivers to perform certain functions, others might benefit the vehicles but may not have been completed due to time or cost.
Vehicle upfitters are increasingly considering drivers' needs and creating unique designs to fit specialized needs. There are so many options that you must know what your vehicles need to allow your drivers to perform their duties better.
The thought of upfitting fleet vehicles can be overwhelming, but with the proper planning, it doesn’t have to be. There are three critical considerations to take when getting started in an upfitting project. They are:
During the planning process you will have any questions. Carefully planning and organizing your goals will go a long way in making the process easier. Here are our four best tips for upfitting your fleet to assist you in this process.
- Find the best time
Time is a significant factor in getting your fleet upfitted. As your vehicles won’t be in service while being upgraded, time is an important consideration. The right time will be different for every fleet. It could be when there’s a gap in the schedule that allows time or when the budget is available. If you are in a slow time for business and the fleet isn’t in such high demand, it could be the perfect time for fleet upfitting.
- Make the right selections
The ultimate goal in upfitting your fleet is to maximize driver efficiency. To make the right decisions, you must understand the purpose of each vehicle in your fleet. This is where talking with your drivers comes in. They will know firsthand what will help them do their jobs better and be more productive.
- Organize tasks remotely
Once you are ready to begin the upfitting project, you will want to provide project management to ensure the project is on time and on budget. A convenient way to do this is to organize tasks remotely. Your fleet management software can help you do this.
- Examine costs from a big-picture view
You’ve planned out every last detail, from the project timeline to your goals and plans. So what will all of this cost? The answer isn’t that easy. The price can vary greatly depending on what vehicle upgrades you have done. The project will be costly. There’s no avoiding that. While the immediate costs will be significant, they will pay off in the long run.
This is why it is important to consider the total cost of ownership in considering what upfits to make to your fleet. It can help you decide what upgrades are most important to your fleet. Having your budget in mind is also an essential part of the process. It may be worth adding something that will cause you to exceed your budget but will significantly improve your TCO. Understanding how upgrades will impact your TCO gives you a clearer picture of the project so you can make the best decision regarding your budget for the project.
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