All fleets are different, and most fleet managers would not hesitate to agree on that. From key performance indicators (KPIs) to policies and procedures, they all have similar outcomes in mind, but still, they are all different. Having said that, there are two problems that most fleets have in common, two problems that happen to be the ones that have the biggest impact on a fleet — technician shortages and less-than-adequate replacement funds.
While I’d love to help find more replacement funds through my blog (I promise to keep looking), I intend to challenge you to think of ways to improve your operation. During my time as fleet manager for the City of Norfolk, Va., I had my share of challenges — in particular, excessive downtime due to technician shortages. In 2016, I came across an organization called YourMechanic. YourMechanic’s concept is quite clear: it delivers qualified, pre-screened (background check included), ready-to-work technicians to you. This concept is no way new. Quite the contrary, it has been attempted many times, and many have failed. So, what makes YourMechanic different? Here are some that come to mind:
- A national presence with mechanics available in more than 5,000 cities.
- Services backed by a 12-month/ 12,000-mile warranty.
- On average, their technicians have 10+ years of experience and ASE certifications.
- They customize a program around a fleet manager’s requirements be it short-, medium-, or long-term goals.
- No travel fees.
YourMechanic delivers services ranging from basic repairs and diagnostic inspections to preventive maintenance. The technician comes to you and he or she under your supervision. Your staff can perform on-the-spot visual inspections of the technician's recommended repairs — instead of on the phone, as you would if the repair were outsourced. This is a great solution if you are a fleet with limited resources and have open bays without technicians due to long term disability, vacation, or a recent departure. Or if you have a backlog of repairs, are subletting work, or are expanding your operation and need a qualified technician who reports to you. It’s a flexible program, and you are in control while the technician is onsite, working under your roof.
Ok, so I have you thinking — and I know what you are thinking — decreased downtime and more completed work orders, that’s all dandy, but show me the numbers! I actually kept lots of data from my fleet manager days (don’t hesitate to reach out to me if you need a policy or procedure template) and I have the data to support the positive impact. YourMechanic was able to decrease downtime* by 31%, increase the average work orders completed by 27%, and deliver a savings of 20%-40% compared to other vendors’ labor rates.
YourMechanic is also working with Collier County Sheriff in Florida. Donald Stiegler, fleet foreman, said, “Once YourMechanic got the flow of things, they drastically helped reduce our backlog of 130 vehicles.” Stiegler also mentioned that he was very pleased with the thorough background conducted by YourMechanic for the current employee it has working on site, a requirement considering the exclusive sheriff vehicle workload.
Let’s be honest here. As a fleet manager, one of the biggest fears (and I lived and defended a fleet through it) is privatization. YourMechanic has no interest in taking over your organization. It is strictly there to help you do your job by getting vehicles in and out of the shop. There are very few, if any, fleets in the country that can do everything and do it well. Don’t be scared to admit that at times your workload is just too much for you and your staff to handle. And some of the best fleet managers I’ve meet all realize that having a set of go-to strategic vendors is a must.
*Downtime defined as vehicles out of service between 0 and 4 days.
Disclaimer: Since leaving the City of Norfolk, Tassara has been working as a consultant for YourMechanic to help improve its government fleet program.
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