Image Courtesy of First Consulting

Image Courtesy of First Consulting

Maintenance shops across the country are struggling to overcome the industry-wide technician shortage and to keep their shops and vehicles running smoothly. Maintenance expert Todd Hawkins provides insight on how you can maximize your resources and likely save some money, too.

QUESTION: I am struggling to hire maintenance technicians. What can I do to help mitigate my staffing shortages?

ANSWER: One of the simplest ways school districts can ease the burden of the technician shortage is by partnering with a maintenance provider. A maintenance partnership can support a district’s maintenance operation in three impactful ways: providing access to a network of skilled workers, offering greater flexibility in services, and ultimately providing cost savings.

1. Access to Professionally Trained and Skilled Workers

Most outsourcing relationships for maintenance are supported by a preexisting staff of skilled technicians. Companies who specialize in providing fleet maintenance retain a large staff and offer structured personal development opportunities. First Consulting has recruiters dedicated specifically to hiring technicians, creating access to a larger pool of workers with specialized qualifications.

2. Flexibility and Guaranteed Labor

Outsourcing maintenance also gives districts more flexibility for changing service levels. If your needs increase or decrease, a maintenance partnership can easily support staffing changes. Companies providing maintenance services can also offer techs more reliable hours and retention options through the summer months, making them a preferred employer for technicians looking for a shop.

3. Cost-Savings

Districts who outsource fleet maintenance receive specialized services from trained experts and pay significantly less than what they would for an in-house team. Staffing costs are offset by the maintenance provider’s ability to purchase parts at a lower price, provide training programs implemented at a larger scale, and offer employee benefit programs that reach a much larger group.

QUESTION: Are there other benefits of a maintenance partnership?

ANSWER: The benefits of a maintenance partnership extend far beyond shop staffing. Partnership allows for simplified problem solving for complex repairs, higher safety standards for vehicles, and an overall more efficient and better prepared program. Some maintenance partnership benefits include:

1. Network of Skilled Problem Solvers

When you partner with a large maintenance provider, your shop gains access to their network of experienced technicians. For example, First Consulting provides our technicians with access to our Technician Assistance Center (TAC) Helpdesk. The TAC Help Desk allows our techs to video chat live with our most experienced team members across the country, and Help Desk staff can draw on-screen to circle specific wires, nozzles, or problem areas when assisting to solve a complex vehicle repair.

2. Efficient Practices

Most maintenance providers have refined their shop layouts and practices to run like a well-oiled machine. For example, First Consulting uses Lean practices to raise the performance level and efficiency of our shops. These practices help reduce supplementary outside repairs, parts supply waste, unscheduled work, and maintenance overtime, while developing a high-performance culture, proper organization of tools and parts, and clear goals and performance measurements. Wide implementation of these guidelines has earned 99% of our shops with a Lean classification.

3. Proper Shop Management & Training

A well-organized shop is only as efficient as the technicians and managers that support it. A fleet maintenance partnership allows your shop to leverage the comprehensive training and development programs of organizations with much broader resources dedicated to maintenance. First Consulting provides managers and technicians with ongoing training and development opportunities, and we encourage our staff to pursue additional training through the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE). Once a percentage of technicians reach ASE certification, ASE recognizes their shop with the accredited “Blue Seal of Excellence”. We currently have 100 Blue Seal Certified shops, which is more than any ground transportation company in the US and more than all other student transportation providers combined.

Interested in learning more about how First Consulting can take your maintenance operations to the next level? Schedule time with our team!