When looking for a fleet maintenance provider, the City of Fort Lauderdale's Fleet Services department takes into consideration how a provider keeps its technicians educated and informed on industry developments.
Photo credit: Photo courtesy of FirstGroup America
John Rencher, fleet manager, City of Fort Lauderdale Fleet Services, with administrative aids Nadine Blue and Cathy Green (left to right).
Photo credit: Photo courtesy of FirstGroup America
The City of Fort Lauderdale, FL, operates more than 1,500 vehicles, including medium and heavy duty trucks, fire and police vehicles and other public safety vehicles. “Since these vehicles are used to assist our community, exceptional maintenance service is imperative to allow our employees to effectively provide a safe service to the residents of the city,” says John Rencher, fleet manager for the City of Fort Lauderdale’s Fleet Services department.
As budgets change throughout the years, the Fleet Services department is always looking for new ways to provide the same great service at a lower cost. Every six years the department requests bids from outside vehicle maintenance providers for its fleet maintenance needs.
Rencher says that during the bid review process, bids are evaluated, looking for four influential factors before awarding the contract to the winning bidder.
1. What is the organization’s track record?
“When deciding on a company to provide our fleet maintenance, it is important to evaluate their experience as a fleet maintenance provider, review its past work, interview current and past clients and evaluate their performance against current industry benchmarks and best practices,” says Rencher. “This helps assess the provider’s quality of work and determine if its work policies, safety standards and practices are a good fit for our organization.”
This principal part of the evaluation allows Fleet Services to perform a more in-depth analysis of each bidding organization than what is provided in the bid proposal.
“While facts and figures are enticing to some, it is a benefit to learn more about an organization on a personal level through references,” he notes. “It is another great way to determine what kind of impact the company could possibly make within our organization.”
2. What is the maintenance provider’s level of service, and does it have the resources to accommodate our business?
A company’s expertise and ability to meet Fleet Services’ goals are “critical factors” in choosing a fleet maintenance partner, Rencher says. “The provider must prove that it has the knowledge and experience to help our organization move forward and provide efficient and reliable service.
“A thorough review of the company’s processes, efficiencies and repair schedule help gauge the company’s ability to perform the work desired. By working with a large and experienced maintenance partner, we gain access to the resources and knowledge of that provider.”
What’s more, he says large maintenance providers have the resources to purchase parts at a reduced rate and receive them in a timely manner. “This becomes a benefit to our operations and the success of our fleet.”
3. How does the organization keep its employees and technicians updated on procedures and other important aspects of the industry?
“Keeping employees, especially technicians, educated and informed on the many and constant changes within the industry is an important part of any fleet maintenance organization,” says Rencher. “If employees are kept informed and have the option to take part in continuous training programs, we view this as more of a benefit for our fleet.
“This is why we put a great deal of weight on a company’s training program. It is important to us to understand how they keep their employees educated on processes and updated on news within the industry.”
He says his team extensively reviews a company’s best practices and what kind of weekly or monthly meetings it may have with its staff to keep their employees well informed and knowledgeable on industry processes.
“Reviewing a contractor’s consistency in educating their employees, their constant knowledge of the industry and the importance of sharing new and improved processes is a great benefit.
“It is also important to evaluate the certifications of the company’s staff,” he notes. “Knowing that the employees you will be relying on are ASE Certified or hold other types of maintenance certification recognized by the industry is an imperative element of our decision-making process.”
4. Does the organization understand our needs and our goals for success?
As many businesses and organizations are being affected by the current economy, the need to get an optimum return on investment has never been more important, observes Rencher. The hardest part is working with a reduced budget and providing quality service.
“When deciding the right company for a service maintenance provider, it is important to make sure the company understands our needs and the goals we intend to reach while in this partnership.
“Any organization going through a bid process should understand that when deciding on a service maintenance provider with responsibility to maintain a modern fleet, the company chosen will be with you for an extended period of time,” he points out. “It is important to search through bids for a company that can help you grow, and one that you can build a strong relationship with throughout the length of your contract.
This past October, the City of Fort Lauderdale Fleet Services department celebrated its 30-year anniversary with First Vehicle Services, a division of FirstGroup America, as its outside vehicle maintenance provider.
First Vehicle Services is a leading provider of contract fleet maintenance and management services in the U.S. FirstGroup America is the leader in safe, reliable, sustainable transportation, and the largest provider of surface transportation services in North America.
In 1981, Fleet Services decided to outsource its fleet services in order to gain cost effectiveness and to improve the quality of vehicle repairs.
In the 30-year timeframe, Fleet Services has seen numerous bids seeking the opportunity to manage our fleet maintenance,” says Rencher. “First Vehicle Services has continued to meet, and exceed, the qualifications that we look for when reviewing a bid.
“They excel in communication, not only with our organization, but with their employees as well. Their staffs’ knowledge of important industry news and standards has been a great benefit to our organization, and is something we believe very highly in.
“Trust and communication can go a long way in this industry, and should be an integral part of any organizations relationship to become successful,” he concludes.