Many fleet managers don’t like to hear about outsourcing. They take pride in their teams doing their own work and even being able to perform work for other public entities. Their technicians are well trained, quick, and make few mistakes — so why would they send their work somewhere else?
John King, the fleet director for Collier County, Florida, and former fleet operations manager with the city of Columbus, Ohio, shares his thoughts on striking a balance.
Be Flexible with Outsourced Work
I read the “Striking a Balance Between In-House & Outsourced Work” column in the March/April issue, and I believe your article is spot on. In my 30-plus years in the fleet industry, I have seen times when we can become out of balance. Having the expertise to do an overhaul on a diesel engine is great, but does your shop have the space? Could your technician’s time be better spent making multiple repairs on multiple vehicles to keep the group happier?
In Columbus, at one point, we outsourced far more than we should have. An aging fleet, lack of expertise, and internal budgets all played a part. Taking a more balanced approach, which included training technicians, getting the fleet within lifecycle, and developing a replacement plan has all helped. It has also helped to standardize the fleet as much as possible — this positively affects parts inventory and the team’s knowledge base.
It is also important to be flexible — and maybe have the ability to do the repair internally but have an outside source to use as needs dictate. I am reminded of this definition of management — the utilization of resources to get a job done that no single resource can do alone!