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Fleet Management & Cost 1 of 6

Posted by Michael H. Smith, on December 10, 2020

How do we determine the cost of a fire truck?

The total cost of owning and operating a fire truck consists of six components, and we list all six  in the article, "Total Cost of Ownership." 

It is essential to understand all six, creating and implementing a plan to use both time and money in the most efficient way possible.

This article will review the 1st of the six components in the cost of Fleet Management, "Truck Spec and Purchase Process.”

This truck spec phase consists mainly of time and travel, both of which are ‘soft cost.’ Without a clear strategy, these two expenditures can quickly get out of hand as they are some of the hardest things to measure.

A Time Investment

Time is the one commodity that we can never get back; once it’s gone, it’s gone. When we think of the time consumed in the process of purchasing a fire truck, it falls into two categories: 

Meeting with your department and community.

To purchase the right truck for your community, you will need to spend time: 

  • Evaluating the current and future needs of the community

    • Meeting with firefighters.

    • Emergency service personnel

    • Speaking with other departments

  • Calculating and constructing a budget

    • Meeting with community leaders, accounting department, and fire department leadership

  • Detailing the ideal fire truck based on the needs and budget

It doesn’t take a vivid imagination to realize a multitude of hours could be spent on these items, and then you have to consider...

Meeting with a dealer or manufacturer.

The investment in a new or used fire truck is significant, and ensuring the supplier of the apparatus can meet the criteria within the budget you have set is crucial.  To find the right match of dealer or manufacturer can consume blocks of time as you:

  • Tour the dealership and/or factory to see:

    • Manufacturing process

    • Repair center

    • Warranty centers

    • General service operation support

  • Speak with sales representatives in-person, by phone, or by video to 

    • Nail down the specs, and figure out if they can build what you want

    • Identify which of the ~10,000 options you would like to configure

  • Seek out references on the company

Often a fire department will visit multiple dealers or manufacturers and more than once. The travel for these visits also becomes a part of the truck spec cost that must be considered.

What if you could reduce a portion of this time and costs and maybe even be guaranteed an amount of money for the truck you are ready to surplus?

Reducing the soft costs

How do you track this cost? All the truck committee meetings, all the meetings with City officials, board members, trustees, or whoever else is involved in the spec and purchase process takes time. 

And all time has a cost. 

If this could be minimized, if there could be a plan not to replicate 100% of all this time for each truck purchase, is that valuable? 

What if you could cut the total time involved in spec'ing a truck by 10%, 20%, 50%? Would that be an added value to the taxpayer and to the department? 

This is the 1st of 6 components in the Total Cost of Ownership. For questions about how Brindlee can help with the trade values of current trucks, or giving a Guaranteed Buy Back offer for any fire truck in your fleet, click here.

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