For fleet managers and contractors, the phrase ‘vehicle upfitting’ can send a shiver down the spine. There are so many things to consider and to ensure to ‘get right’. But we’re here to say that it doesn’t have to be so daunting. Not as long as you follow a few simple rules.

As consumers, when we go out and buy a new car, what we usually get is the finished product; gleaming in all its glory. When it comes to fleet and commercial vehicles, the situation is quite the opposite.

Actually receiving the delivery of the vehicle(s) can just be the start of a longer process of preparing it for the job it’s being purchased for. An this process is of course called vehicle upfitting. It’s when the new factory-ready vehicle is sent to a specialist to be custom-equipped. That is, to meet the very specific needs for personal or business. And the process is a bit akin to Bruce Wayne getting kitted out in his batsuit.

Depending on your industry and your vehicle type, there are a plethora of different vehicle upfitting options you can get. You simply need to make sure you customize your vehicle in the optimal way. That is, for the job it’s going to be doing.

It sounds complicated, and you can run into some potentially expensive mistakes. But let’s have a quick look at things you need to keep in mind during the process of vehicle upfitting; so that you get it right the first time round.

Vehicle upfitting: some useful tips

There are many things you need to consider, most importantly BEFORE you begin. Start with these main points:

Define how it will be used

Your first port of call should be for fleet managers and fleet drivers/operators; to define the specific needs that the vehicle will serve. Or in other words, how far you need the vehicle upfitting to go. For example, is it just something simple like adding some wood or metal interior covering and a few shelves and basic accessories? Or do you need a complete set of equipment to transform a van into a telecoms service vehicle? Irrespective of the industry you are in, understanding exactly how the vehicle will be used is the key to getting the functionality of this vehicle upfitting right.

Involve EVERYONE

Go by the rule that no stakeholder is too small. Obviously depending on the size of your company, the decision-makers may actually be at the other end of the spectrum from those who are going to be driving and using the vehicle(s). That’s why it’s important for fleet managers or procurement managers to not be so far removed from the drivers and/or operators on the front line. Make sure you consult in detail with the person who will be using the vehicle(s). That’s, so that no important details are missed. Every stakeholder needs to be involved in the vehicle upfitting process, including the meetings with the third-party upfitting company.

Put together a proper plan

When you have defined how the vehicle(s) will be used, who will use it and consulted with all the relevant stakeholders, you need to make a plan. There are many ways for vehicle upfitting, due to the various sizes, chassis, body configurations available. This means you need to sit down with your upfitting partner; and ensure you create a detailed plan of how the vehicle(s) will be upfitted. Why? So you can clear up any potential issues at an early building stage. And avoid expensive changes later, down the line, in the form of ordering new equipment and work.

Function over budget

This is a tricky one. You will have to try and stay within a set budget. But, you should not sacrifice function over small differences in pricing. Of course, keeping costs down is an essential part of running a successful fleet and business. But don’t allow this thought to handling your vehicle upfitting in a way to try and please everyone. Put simply, this is rarely possible, and you may end up with a vehicle that’s not fitted for purpose. It’s a common mistake, and one you need to avoid. This may seem obvious advice, but finally, do your homework and shop around. Don’t accept the first quote you get from a long-standing partner, for example. That is, if it doesn’t fit your budget for what you need, of course.

Recognize the value

This point continues from where the last point left off. You really can not – and should not – underestimate the value of vehicle upfitting. As a contractor for example, it can help you to be super-organized, saving you lots of time and resources. The point is in the beginning, don’t let costs put you off. Stay focused on the long-term view and consider the value it will give you over time. Think of the efficiency, productivity that a successful upfit will provide.

A few more bonus tips

If you are looking for something a bit more simple, you may choose the a more straightforward vehicle upfitting; and pick and mix from various options offered vehicle dealers. That is, depending on the brand you have in mind.

Here are few ideas in terms of uplifting your vehicle in a more simple way to help your everyday needs:

  • Under-Seat Storage Bins – for the extra you may need to store tools, documents, etc.
  • Seat Guards – to protect your interior from wear and tear
  • Fender Flares – to protect your vehicle from the elements but also to give it some added styling
  • Step Bars – making it easier for you to step into the vehicle
  • Window Tint – to keep your interior from aging 
  • Rain Guards – so you can open your windows without any water getting into the car
  • Tonneau Cover – to increase fuel economy and protect your equipment

For more ideas like these, check out Nissan’s upfit page. And for more detailed references on upfitting commercial vehicles, it’s also worth your while checking out autotruck’s information on this topic.

One last thing…

We take it for granted that you already have a fleet management solution in place; as part of your vehicle upfitting process. And if you don’t, well, shame on you! No, really! Not only are you missing out on greater efficiency and saving costs; you’re also missing out on having a safer, smoother running fleet.

Take your vehicle upfitting one step further, then. Αnd level up with a fleet management solution like our very own Veturilo. Designed for small to medium-sized enterprises, it will help you manage a fleet on the go, from anywhere; so you can have the most efficient fleet out there and keep your customers happier than ever.

Vehicle upfitting for fleets: A short comprehensive guide was last modified: May 29th, 2020 by Graham Wood