A big part of running a successful fleet is keeping the vehicles in good repair. One of the best ways to do that is to hire a fleet mechanic.
A fleet mechanic, also known as a fleet technician, is a person who conducts preventative and emergency maintenance on the various systems that commercial vehicles depend on to run properly.
It doesn’t matter what types of vehicles your business employs to get the job done, hiring a dedicated fleet mechanic can save you both money and time over outsourcing repairs and maintenance.
But what other benefits can you enjoy?
In this article, we answer that question, discuss the basic responsibilities of this unique position, and give you tips for hiring a fleet mechanic of your own.
Table of Contents
- Why Hire A Fleet Mechanic?
- Typical Fleet Mechanic Responsibilities
- Benefits Of Hiring A Fleet Mechanic
- How To Hire A Fleet Mechanic
Why Hire A Fleet Mechanic?
It doesn’t matter the type, size, or number of vehicles in your fleet, if they include an engine — be it gas, diesel, or electric — and other moving parts, those vehicles are going to need maintenance and repairs eventually.
In addition, those vehicles need to comply with the Department of Transportation (DOT), Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), and Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA) standards.
For that, fleet managers have two distinct choices:
- Send the vehicles out to a repair shop
- Hire an in-house fleet mechanic/fleet technician
At first — as your fleet is just starting out — the former option may be the most practical and economical. It does, however, come with its own set of disadvantages that can introduce unnecessary restrictions and seriously detract from the way your fleet operates.
As your fleet grows, then, the latter option may become more beneficial for the business. How so?
We’ll discuss the drawbacks of sending your vehicles to a repair shop and the benefits of hiring an in-house fleet technician later on in this article.
But first, we’ll outline the typical fleet mechanic responsibilities so you know what to look for during the hiring process.
Typical Fleet Mechanic Responsibilities
Depending on the type and size of your business and your fleet, the typical responsibilities of a fleet mechanic will vary.
That said, the core duties of this position often include:
- Repair vehicle engines, transmission, and other moving parts
- Repair vehicle electrical, hydraulic, and climate control systems
- Repair vehicle frame and body
- Evaluate wear and tear to prevent breakdowns
- Estimate cost of repairs and maintenance
- Create repair and maintenance plans
- Communicate with fleet manager
- Travel to make remote repairs
- Maintain safety standards
In addition to these basic responsibilities, many fleet technicians are also responsible for:
- Performing DOT inspections
- Ensuring HAZMAT compliance
- Welding and fabrication (e.g., MIG, TIG, and stick welding)
- Managing parts inventory
- Maintaining tools
- Identifying and repairing facility issues
- Filing OSHA paperwork
With the rapid implementation of electronic vehicles, telematics, and onboard computer systems, many fleet mechanics are also responsible for installing, setting, and repairing these digital systems.
As such, these employees need to be comfortable using computers and computerized equipment and be well-versed in both mechanical and digital troubleshooting.
Benefits Of Hiring A Fleet Mechanic
1) Save Money
One of the biggest benefits of hiring a fleet mechanic is saving money on commercial vehicle repairs and maintenance.
Labor charges at a typical service shop can range anywhere from $75 to $100 or more per hour. And you still have to pay for parts, fluid disposal, and other non-labor items.
That’s not a major expense if your fleet is new and you’re only taking the vehicles in for routine maintenance issues, such as oil changes, tire rotations, and checkups.
But, if your fleet is accumulating miles and starting to age to the point that the vehicles need more frequent attention, the bills are really going to add up.
Hiring a fleet technician can cut those costs in half.
Most in-house mechanics earn $15 to $25 per hour depending on their skills and experience. Even factoring in the parts you have to buy, the labor charges may only approach $50 per hour for the more complicated repairs.
That’s a significant savings over the repair shop option and can free up cash for other fleet and business activities.
2) Control Quality
Another benefit of hiring a fleet mechanic is quality control. There’s always a risk that you won’t get high-quality repairs when you send your vehicles out to be fixed.
For example, some repair shops use refurbished parts in order to avoid the expense of OEM components. That can lead to compatibility issues and undue wear and tear on your fleet vehicles.
But, with an in-house fleet technician, you can put systems in place — like always using the appropriate OEM replacement parts — to ensure that your vehicles get the high-quality maintenance they need to function at their best and are safe for your drivers to operate.
3) Improve Repair Time
When it’s time to schedule routine maintenance or emergency repairs, you want to get your vehicles into the shop and back out on the road as quickly as possible.
Your repair shop of choice, though, may be backed up and unable to squeeze you in for several days. Delays like that can have a serious impact on your bottom line.
You can avoid long wait times by hiring a fleet mechanic of your own. With an in-house technician, you have more say over what gets done when.
Such flexibility and control can significantly improve repair times and have your vehicles back in service days, or even weeks, sooner than your local mechanic.
How To Hire A Fleet Mechanic
1) Engage In Several Recruiting Strategies
Finding the right fleet mechanic for your team can be a difficult task if you don’t look in the right places.
Give your business the best possible chance at success by engaging in several different recruiting strategies instead of just one.
For example, you may try to:
- Hire from within
- Post the fleet technician position on several online job boards
- Ask your current team if they know of anyone who has the necessary skills
- Recruit military veterans with diesel or heavy equipment experience
- Attend a career fair at a local technical school
- Post a “help wanted” flier on a bulletin board at a nearby trade school
Casting a broad net with a variety of recruiting strategies like these can help you find the right person for the job faster than if you just relied on a single avenue of inquiry.
2) Plan On Hiring Full-Time
Two factors will affect whether you hire a part-time fleet mechanic or a full-time one. Those two factors are:
- Availability of qualified technicians
- Amount of work you have
As more and more baby boomers retire and fewer young people go into the trades, the automotive repair industry is starting to suffer from a shortage of qualified and experienced technicians.
That means that competition for available positions will be high. And, unless you find someone who wants to work part-time, chances are the candidates you talk to would rather work full-time.
The other factor to consider when hiring a part-time fleet mechanic versus a full-time fleet mechanic is the amount of work you have.
Even if you don’t have a lot of work right now, that doesn’t mean the workload won’t increase in the future. Get ahead of the game now and be prepared as your fleet ages by employing an in-house fleet technician of your very own.
3) Improve Your Interview Process
Speed is key when it comes to hiring a fleet mechanic. If you wait too long between interviewing a potential candidate and offering them a job, chances are high that another company will scoop them up.
Look for ways to improve your interview process and streamline the entire hiring procedure so that decisions get made faster and applicants don’t start looking elsewhere for a job.
Consider conducting the initial interview by phone or video conference and then following up a day or two later with another call or video conference to keep the person interested.
And, instead of leaving the hiring to one person, put two or three people in charge of the process so that your business doesn’t let good candidates get away.
4) Hire For Attitude And Aptitude
Another strategy that can help your business find the right fleet mechanic for the job is to hire for attitude and aptitude rather than skill.
Those “soft skills” are harder to cultivate but infinitely more valuable to the long-term success of your business.
You can always train someone in the technical aspects they need, but it’s much more difficult to train them to have a good attitude and to be a team player at work.
5) Compensate Fleet Mechanics Well
When it comes to hiring a fleet mechanic, compensation is key. Be prepared to offer anywhere from $15 per hour to $20 per hour for a starting technician.
And, if you need to hire a master technician — or someone with special skills — you may need to offer more than $35 per hour.
Whatever you choose, don’t be afraid to offer competitive pay. The investment will pay off in the long run.
21st-Century Fleet Management
Regardless of whether you hire a fleet mechanic/fleet technician or not, one of the best ways to move your fleet management into the 21st century is with Coast.
Coast provides real-time expense tracking and a powerful online management platform that puts your entire fleet in the palm of your hand and provides full visibility of every dollar spent.
With Coast, your business will enjoy:
- Easy manager access
- Advanced spending controls
- Universal acceptance
- Security alerts
- Data tracking and reporting
For more information, and to learn about everything Coast can do for your business, visit CoastPay.com today.