Supply Chain Issues; Vehicle Selection and Planning; Upcoming Webinars

FridayFleet sat down this week with Rick Shick, Donlen’s VP of Acquisition and Strategic Sourcing, to talk about supply chain disruptions.

FridayFleet: Rick, can you tell us about the current supply chain situation?

Rick Shick: There are quite a few things happening right now that are causing disruptions, none bigger than the OEM recalls that are impacting production and delivery. We continue to see logistical delays due to rail car shortages. Earlier this year a hailstorm delayed a significant number of vehicles and customers are still feeling the impact. Upfitters are experiencing production and equipment challenges. And there are quality holds that may not necessarily be due to part shortages, but when they do occur, they impact production times. All these are affecting vehicle delivery timing and causing challenges for customers.

FF: Any insight into what’s causing the current disruptions?

RS: I think it’s a combination of things. Demand for new vehicles is growing as the economy improves and companies need to cycle units they held off replacing. Unfortunately, events of the last 12-18 months have affected the ability for OEMs and their suppliers to sufficiently ramp up again. The number of suppliers was reduced during the economic downturn and others were greatly affected by the Tsunami – there are still delays with some paint colors and electrical components. All this is making it challenging to get vehicles to customers when they need them.

FF: What’s our course of action for dealing with disruptions?

RS: The first priority is to keep the customer informed at each step – no matter what type of disruption is occurring. For new orders, we’ll work with the customer to prioritize: if the driver currently has a vehicle, it’s generally a less pressing issue. If there is not an existing vehicle – as in the case of new hires needing work trucks involving upfitting – it’s more critical to get vehicles to them. We’re constantly coordinating with multiple vendors and numerous “moving parts” behind the scenes to make that happen.

In the case of large recalls, each customer may be affected differently due to whether they are currently using the vehicle or have vehicles on order, so we have several different processes that we follow. In either situation, we communicate directly with affected customers so they have the most current information that we’re receiving from the OEM. For instance, in the case of the recent Ford Escape recall, it was a “stop delivery/stop drive” so we needed to communicate immediately with any customers who utilize Escapes. Then, because production on new Escapes will be pushed back a few weeks, we are contacting customers who have placed new orders so that we can work together on a plan of action. When recalled vehicles are returned to dealers, drivers are provided a rental; if dealers are having difficulty in that area, we can help with that as well. The ultimate goal is to keep drivers on the road.

FF: Is there anything that customers can do to mitigate the risks of a supply chain disruption?

RS: Once a recall or other disruption happens, the best thing to do is work with our team to see what alternatives are available. Many times, finding alternative vehicles that fit the requirement means coordinating with several different vendors, which can take time. We’ll help you weigh every option. While it may seem like the quickest thing to do, sometimes pulling a vehicle right from a dealer lot because it’s available right now is not always the best course of action, particularly in the case of trucks. Is the truck going to meet your requirements? Is the required equipment to be installed readily available? Sometimes waiting for the equipment can actually take longer than waiting for a factory order. We can help you look at all the possibilities.

Even before anything happens, forecasting for the next year is critical. Work with us on your process: What are your needs for the next year? When do you want to take delivery? Let us look at your delivery window and develop a plan working backwards from that. We’ll help you meet that objective and build a bit of a cushion for those situations that arise that are beyond our control.

FF: Any final thoughts?

RS: There are pros and cons to every choice you have during a supply chain disruption. Your Donlen team will work with you and do everything we possibly can to get vehicles to you. We work closely with the OEMs and other vendors to find alternatives where feasible, and we make it a priority to communicate with you throughout the process. We keep our website updated immediately with any new information, so that’s always a great resource. And of course, at any time if you have questions about the acquisition process, I can be reached at

FF: Thanks Rick.

Vehicle Selection and Planning Resources

Above, Rick mentioned our website as a way to stay updated on the latest manufacturer information. In one spot, Donlen’s Resource Center houses the items that are most important to your short-and long-term planning, such as production updates, manufacturer plant downtimes, and key manufacturer announcements.

Bookmark these pages to help with vehicle selection and forecasting:

2012 Production Updates: Car and truck production updates, listed by manufacturer. Also included here are import lead-time calendars and fleet specs

Build Out Startup Dates: The very latest in manufacturer final order due dates for cars and trucks by manufacturer, including Canadian versions

Manufacturer Fleet Incentives: Both U.S. and Canadian fleet incentives, listed by manufacturer

Manufacturer Plant Downtimes: Scheduled manufacturer plant downtimes

Fleet Management Industry Announcements: Any announcement that can potentially affect production and/or delivery of vehicles is listed here, by date

FleetWeb® Tips

Your reports and most-used screens can automatically appear when starting FleetWeb by following these simple steps:

1. Open up any report or screen in FleetWeb. Click on the star at top of the screen shown in the illustration below

2. Then, select Start from the dropdown menu

3. Hit SUBMIT. Every time you start FleetWeb your report or screen will appear.


Upcoming Webinars

AFLA webinar:
DriverPoint™ Telematics – Utilizing Telematics to Improve Your Bottom Line

> Tuesday, August 14, 2012 11:00 am ET

Presenter: Jeff Pursell, Vice President, Telematics and Strategic Development

Cost reduction continues to be the number one challenge facing corporate fleets today. In this informative session, Jeff Pursell, Donlen VP, Telematics and Strategic Development, will show you how using a comprehensive Telematics solution can help improve efficiencies across your entire fleet – including driver productivity, fuel cost, and fleet safety.


Jeff Pursell has more than 20 years experience strategizing and executing solutions to complex business problems. Working in the fleet management industry for the past 12 years, Jeff anticipates customer needs and develops innovative products that analyze data to improve their outcomes. In response to challenges faced by fleet managers today, Jeff designed and developed Donlen’s proprietary DriverPoint™ Telematics and Scorecard application, which helps commercial fleets improve efficiency, increase productivity, and reduce costs.

Hertz Value Lease™

Don’t miss this opportunity to see how Hertz Value Lease* can quickly become part of your vehicle selection process. Immediately see the benefits of Hertz Value Lease, including:

  • Broader selection
  • Reduced leasing costs
  • Faster order-to-delivery times

> Tuesday, July 31, 2012 11:00 am – Noon CDT

> Tuesday, August 28, 2012 11:00 am – Noon CDT

Driver’s Corner

The summer heat and drought continues across the country, and it’s more important than ever to follow your fleet’s scheduled vehicle maintenance routine. Extreme heat – especially prolonged periods like we’ve been experiencing – can have an impact on tires, belts, hoses, wiper blades, the battery, and fluids in your vehicle. Stay cool out there – and on the road with some preventive and proactive maintenance.

And Finally…

And finally, the latest VW to roll off the line will not become part of your vehicle selectors. Unless of course you plan on heading underwater with it. That’s because it’s a shark tank. Yes, and just in time for the upcoming 25th annual Shark Week. And it looks surprisingly like the iconic car. Not sure about you, but we’ll be watching Shark Week from above the water. > Check it out for yourself here

Have a nice weekend. Safe travels.

Originally appeared in FridayFleet on July 27, 2012

About Donlen
A wholly owned subsidiary of The Hertz Corporation (NYSE:HTZ), Donlen (, with headquarters in Northbrook, IL, is the fleet industry’s most comprehensive and integrated provider of financing and asset management solutions. Since 1965, Donlen has offered its clients highly personalized and responsive customer service, and their workplace excellence has been recognized as one of Crain’s Chicago Business “List of 20 Best Places to Work in Chicago” each year from 2009-2011, a Leader on “The Global Outsourcing 100®” list by the International Association of Outsourcing Professionals (IAOP) for six of the last seven years, and a National Association for Business Resources “101 Best and Brightest Places to Work For in Chicago” each year from 2007-2012. Donlen’s innovation has been awarded with the Computerworld “2012 Honors Laureate for Economic Opportunity,” named to “2012 InformationWeek 500” for innovative technology; the Stevie® “2012 Gold Award for Business Intelligence Solution,” the Silver Award for “2012 Front Line Customer Service Team of the Year,” and the “2011 Corporate Environmental Responsibility Program of the Year.”