11/16/08

Patrol Cars Only!

There's a New Automaker coming into the market that is going to be the first to produce nothing but specialty vehicles, namely patrol cars. The concept vehicles look great, similar to a Dodge Charger, and are to be built with all the parts suitable for pursuit vehicles. Whether these vehicles will make it from concept to reality is yet to be seen, but if they do, it could have a tremendous impact on the already ailing Big 3 Automakers here in the US.

While Ford and Chevy have always offered a line of vehicles specific to the trade, they have never been able to offer a truly complete package to satisfy all of the requirements for a great patrol car. Carbon Motors, the New Automaker, is supposedly addressing all the issues with the more popular patrol car brands and making it right on their specialty vehicle. It will be interesting to see how this new pursuit vehicle will measure up to the longstanding Ford Crown Vic and Chevy Impala.

For now, we will all just have to be content with the traditional choices for patrol cars.

8/16/08

More Bang For Your Buck!

The following article is featured on the website www.squidoo.com and I wrote it with a commercial or business fleet in mind. However, the more I reviewed it, the more I realized that it really applies to all fleets. Instead of mobile ads in the traditional sense, the same info applies to a fleet featuring public service messages, DARE programs, and many other agency announcements. The point is, this information will help you realize how effective this type of marking product can be to promoting your agency and how cost-effective it can be, too!

The Value of Vehicle Wraps

Vehicle wraps can transform your fleet into the most cost-effective advertising source available to your business. Think about it... You have a fleet of vehicles that cover your main area of business all day, on every major road, with thousands of potential buyers seeing at least one of your vehicles per day. Now, imagine that your fleet of vehicles is covered in a spectacular, eye-catching wrap that puts your name and message right in front of those potential buyers without any effort from the buyer. Are you seeing the possibilities here? Your business identity is now ingrained in their memory because you made it impossible for them not to notice your fleet.
The cost of a vehicle wrap is comparable to a small yellow page ad and, if done right, will last about 3 years. That's 3 years worth of advertising for the price of 1, with more exposure to potential buyers. I'd say that's not a bad investment.

Now that we've determined the value a vehicle wrap offers your business, let me share some tips for getting a quality wrap. There are three main factors involved with choosing a wrap company.
First, check out their facility. They should have on site all the equipment to produce the wrap. Some smaller companies send jobs off to have them printed elsewhere, which leaves you in a pickle if they damage any of the panels during installation. You will be without the use of the vehicle until a new panel arrives and the installation is completed.
Second, look at their previous work in person. Visit at least 2 of their customers that have had wraps done more than six months ago. This will give you a good idea of the quality of installation. Check for large bubbles and lifting around edges and body contours, as this is a sign of poor prep prior to installation. Be sure to talk with the previous customer to find out what they thought of the service and cost. Remember, you are making an investment so do your due diligence.
Finally, get a quote in writing that includes the vehicles to be wrapped, cost per vehicle, art fees, installation fees, and specify 3M material & lamination to be used. The type of material plays a big factor in the life of your wrap, so ask to see the back of the panels prior to installation. They should say 3M or Gerber across the paper backing. If they don't, demand a reprint on the correct material. Be sure to also get a warranty in writing especially if you choose to use a small shop. Some companies are known for using inappropriate materials for the application and then denying your warranty.
The best advice I can give is to find a company that has a large customer base, been around for over 10 years, and is a registered vendor with the government. Any company with a GSA contract has undergone a thorough evaluation by the government and must maintain certain standards to remain a vendor.

7/26/08

Free Fuel for Employees

Recently a fleet manager I know discussed a very real and serious problem with me that could be affecting more than just his department. This is why I decided to share it with you because you may be in the same situation.

A few months ago, after Bubba's (name has been changed for privacy) review of costs versus budget for fuel, Bubba realized he was on track to be 40% over budget. Not a good thing! Problem is, there is no reason he should be, because Bubba always over-budgets for fuel. Well, you may be asking yourself "why did this happen?".


Now here's the scary part of the story...

Bubba does some research to find that one employee, that lives over an hour away, is consuming more fuel than reasonable even with the long daily commute. Turns out this employee was not only filling his county issued patrol vehicle, but also 10 gallon gas cans for personal use, and sometimes his girlfriend's car with fuel. This was a real shocker, so Bubba did a little more investigating and pin pointed a few more perpetrators of fuel theft. It's sad that those charged with enforcing the law felt it was OK to break the law. The investigation isn't over yet and Bubba expects he'll find more instances of fuel theft, but at least his fuel budget will go back to normal.


Unfortunately, Bubba's department had no way to track fuel consumption, other than a register of card scans that only indicated who got fuel and when. There was no software to keep track of the "big picture" data and cross-reference it with where the employee lived, average patrol miles, fuel consumption, and "red flag" anything that didn't jive. (As you may have gathered, this department uses a take-home vehicle program.)


Currently a software program is being developed to track this information so that other departments will not have to deal with this same problem. Until then, if your department is unable to track and flag unusual fuel consumption, I would recommend highly that you do your own investigation now. You never know if someone is stealing from you and you certainly don't want to wait until it's too late. You don't want to end up over budget either. If anyone is currently using a fuel tracking software, as described above, please let me know. You're comments and stories about this topic would be welcome and appreciated.

5/22/08

A Blog Is A Blog Is A Blog...or is It?

For a long time I didn't understand the concept of Blogs, and to be honest, the first blogs were pretty weird and self-indulgent. But now, Blogs have become a great way to share information, voice opinions, and learn just about anything.
While forums are still very popular, they are often hard to navigate. Where as Blogs can be a nice, simple format similar to websites. If you are looking for a way to find blogs on any topic, visit Technorati.com . This is the directory of directories, with millions of blogs listed from all over the world.
Of course, don't forget to come back and visit us here!

Technorati Profile

5/19/08

Hey Chevy, Where Are My Moldings?

Having marked hundreds of Chevy Impalas this year alone, we started to wonder why all of them were arriving without body side moldings. We asked a fleet manager we were working with at the time and he didn't know why his Impalas showed up with no moldings since they always came with them in the past. The fleet manager stated that he ordered them the say way he always orders them, so why were they different?
Our next move was to do a little research to see what we could find out about the missing moldings. Here's what we discovered:

  • If you download the brochure for the Impala Police Package from the GM Fleet website, it lists all standard and optional equipment, and has been updated for the 2008 model year.
  • If you go to page 9 of the brochure, it lists "B86 MOLDINGS BODY SIDE - Body-Color (Installed on all 4 Doors)" under Regular Optional Equipment.
Conclusion: If you placed your order with the same specs as last year and did not specify to add body side moldings, your vehicles will not have them. I honestly think the fleet salesman don't realize this changed because everyone we spoke with whose Impala's came in with no moldings, said no one mentioned this change in options to them when they placed their order.