According to Enterprise Fleet Services, which specializes in serving companies with small to mid-size fleets, planning ahead and ordering vehicles early in the model year can have a major impact on fleet costs and a business' bottom line. "Based on our own customers' experience, businesses that order direct from the factory, rather than from available stock, save an average of 6.3 percent per vehicle," said Steve Bloom, vice president of Enterprise Fleet Services, which has 45 locations across the United States. The company further said some of the vehicles with early order start up dates approaching include the Ford Focus, Taurus, Explorer and F-150, as well as the Buick LaSabre and Chevrolet Express. Dates and timeframes vary for each manufacturer, but specific details can generally be obtained from fleet management companies. "Ordering vehicles directly from the manufacturer requires two to three months lead time for delivery and may also apply to limited production models," said Bloom. "Usually, vehicles can be drop-shipped to any location in the country." Bloom suggests that ordering vehicles direct from the manufacturer in the spring can benefit a business in many ways. Here are just a few:
  • Orders placed early receive initial model year pricing, and may include early order incentives, if offered by the manufacturer.
  • Prices sometimes increase later in the year, and by ordering early, it is easier to obtain preferred vehicles, even if demand for those vehicles is high.
  • You can work with the manufacturer to customize vehicles, ensuring that they meet the specific needs of your business, rather than purchasing a vehicle that has been made using more standard specs. This also saves cost on the back end by cutting down on the purchase of after-market equipment.
  • You will generally also get a reduced price because you have ordered the proper vehicle specifications and colors up front, rather than having to add options once vehicles are received.
  • You will have an increased ability to designate shipment dates. Just as important as knowing when to order new vehicles is knowing when to dispose of older vehicles, a process known in the industry as "cycling." Companies with commercial fleets know that negotiating the best buy on the front end is one way to manage costs, but money saved on the back end can also have an effect on your bottom line. Other factors can also influence when to cycle a vehicle out of a fleet, including the appearance of the vehicle, mileage, wear and tear, resale value and current market conditions. According to the company, a cycling plan not only saves money because of factors like future maintenance, but can also improve a fleet's fuel economy because newer vehicles generally get better gas mileage. It can also help maintain the business' professional image, as well as improve driver satisfaction and safety. Bloom adds that Enterprise has developed a system for analyzing customers' fleet needs to figure out the best time of year to re-market vehicles based on a close analysis of how each customer uses their vehicles, and the fleet's mileage and warranty count. "A business that puts high miles on its vehicles can anticipate unexpected breakdowns, missed appointments and lost productivity if vehicles are not cycled at appropriate timeframes," he said. As a full-service company for businesses with small to mid-size fleets, Enterprise Fleet Services supplies virtually all makes of cars, light and medium duty trucks and service vehicles to businesses nationwide. For more information, visit its Web site at or call toll free 1-877-23-FLEET.