Ellis County to enter vehicle fleet management program

C. Jayden Smith
Hays Daily News

The Ellis County Commission will enter into a new vehicle fleet management program Monday, joining with Enterprise Fleet Management after Monday’s vote.  

Brandon Scott represented Enterprise during the meeting and presented their company’s goal of lowering operating costs for municipalities and maximizing the equity of the fleet vehicles.  

Enterprise also had area sales manager John Wesolowski and Chris Roth, a national service supervisor, virtually participate at the meeting.  

Prior to entering the agreement with Enterprise, Ellis County functioned like most, buying county vehicles outright and running them into the ground over a 15-to-20-year period, at which time they have no value upon trade-in.  

Scott said that another objective was to find the “optimal time” to replace an aging vehicle, which differs for each within a fleet.  

Enterprise orders most of their vehicles, which takes more time than buying from a dealership’s in-stock supply, but also allows them to get better pricing on leases and time the market to maximize the resale value coming back to municipalities. 

By using open-ended leases, there are no charges for over-mileage, penalties for wear and tear, or penalties for ending the lease, among other benefits.  

Scott added that the county can receive money back by paying leases down to a reduced book value, selling the vehicles five years later, and taking the difference between the resale value and book value.  

“That $12,700 of equity – that's not Enterprise’s money, that’s Ellis County’s money,” Scott said, referring to an example of a 2021 Ford F-250. “By doing that, we’re constantly pumping funds back into our municipalities that we partner with.”  

Engaging in the tactic of “short cycling” that includes selling certain vehicles even after one or two years of use allows for larger proceeds by buying low and selling high.  

The agreement would include selling 29 vehicles within the first year and having the county take advantage of Enterprise’s ability to sell at an average of 109 percent of Black Book commercial value.  

Regarding the operations expenses and management part of the agreement, Scott reported that the company has significantly improved their onboarding system to ensure a smooth transition for partners. There are also 27 authorized shops within a 50-mile radius of the Ellis County zip code, including nine shops in Hays. 

Roth expressed that they intend to become a consistent part of the county’s operations, and that Enterprise will be present to attend to any needs or communicate about necessary changes.  

They focus on building a solid relationship and providing information backed by years of automotive experience.  

Commissioner Dean Haselhorst asked for an update on the maintenance process, hoping to learn specifics about what had positively changed since his last experience with Enterprise in the oil industry a decade ago. 

Employees have the option to leave an enterprise card in a vehicle to identify it as a part of the fleet or use a code on the Enterprise app to allow national service staff to communicate with employees at mechanic shops or dealerships and get the necessary fixes done. Roth added that he teaches his team to know when to add services that help keep vehicles properly maintained. 

“I wanted to have a lot of confidence that that program has changed from what it used to be 10 years ago, and it sounds like it has,” Haselhorst said. 

Within the proposal, Enterprise looks to replace aging vehicles with newer models and especially address the 43 percent of light and medium-duty vehicles that do not have the most up-to-date safety features. 

“At the end of the day, we’re anticipating over $770,000 worth of savings over the next 10 years,” Scott said. “Not only that, you’re switching from an aged fleet to a newer, safer, fresher, cleaner, more efficient fleet.” 

Commissioners expressed their excitement for beginning the agreement.  

Ellis County will join the Geary, Leavenworth and Shawnee counties within the Enterprise Fleet Management program, along with several other Kansas cities and school districts.