07 Fleet Operations

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Table of Contents

Industry Overview & Trends

The US automotive market and maintenance industry is huge with combined annual revenue of about $115 billion and about 160,000 service locations. Due to the large number of fleet vehicles (over 3.5 million cars, and over 6.5 million trucks) a significant amount of repair and maintenance is performed at a fleet shop.

Fleets tend to have large amounts of the same make/model vehicle as shown in this image.

Fleet Vehicle Statistics

Car and truck fleets fall into three main categories: commercial, government, and rental fleets as shown in the table below. While there are a lot of similarities when working on any fleet, there are also a lot of differences. For example, working on a garbage truck for a municipality is a lot different than performing basic service on a rental car. This lesson will try to highlight those differences.

Cars – Leased431,00022,000
Cars – Owned204,0001,195,0001,780,000
Trucks – Leased727,00048,000
Trucks – Owned1,860,0001,730,0002,255,000
Total Vehicles3,222,0002,995,0004,035,000
Table 1: 2018 Statistics – Source: Bobit Fleet Group Research Department

Organizational Chart

An example of an organizational chart for a medium-sized fleet shop is shown below. Note that fleets vary from a small organization to a large organization that is part of a nationwide based company.

Typical Fleet Organizational Chart
  1. Fleet operations are almost always part of a larger organization such as a municipality, utility company, rental company, or trucking company.
  2. The layers of mangers can become complex with large fleets. Fleets can even operate 24 hours a day and contain equipment such as trucks, cars, off-road equipment, and even lawn maintenance equipment.
  3. Fleets tend to be part of larger organizations and they may have to compete with other departments for funding and resources.

Tech Positions

Larger fleets tend to follow the A,B,C level scheme used by most automotive shops as show in the list below. These three levels are covered in more detail in the “Shop Careers Lesson”. Also, note that fleets may have positions that address specific types of equipment and vehicles.

  • A Tech – Highest Skill Set (Drivability, controller area networks (CAN) and emissions diagnostics.
  • B Tech – Mid Level Skills (General repair work)
  • C Tech – Entry Level Skills (Maintenance and basic part replacement.

Service Information Systems

Most fleets are made up of vehicles/equipment that are the same make/model, so they tend to invest in the OEM level information systems (for more information on OEM level information systems see this lesson). They may also subscribe to an aftermarket information system for other vehicles that may need to be serviced in the shop.

Training Programs

Most fleet operations are working on large fleets of similar makes/models which makes it feasible to bring the training in-house. Some of the points that should be addressed when evaluating a fleet shop as a potential employee:

Training Plan

  • Does the potential employer have a plan (preferably written) on how to keep the shop’s technicians trained on emerging technologies?
  • It is ultimately the shop owner’s responsibility to set the policy on training and a serious commitment to ongoing training should be defined in a written plan.

Training Budget / Funding

Does the shop fund upgrade training? If so, what costs is the shop willing to pay for?

  • The cost to enroll techs in training
  • The tech’s travel cost to attend the training
  • The tech’s lost wages while attending training held during working hours
  • Is there an incentive plan for techs to become trained at higher levels?

Fringe Benefits

Fringe benefits in the automotive service industry shouldn’t be much different than other responsible employers in the technical services industry. In reality, the automotive repair industry is in competition with more than just the other shop down the street. They are ultimately competing with other transportation and service-related careers such as:

  • Heavy Equipment / Diesel Technician
  • Aircraft Mechanic
  • Wind Turbine Technician
  • Industrial Machinery Mechanic