As the regional manager who oversees the Greensboro, N.C., shop of National Fleet Management, Billy Black is deeply involved in every aspect of the facility’s operation. On a daily basis, he oversees the service department’s nine technicians and a state-certified apprentice.
The National Fleet Management shop in Greensboro is one of four company facilities in North Carolina serving customers in major metropolitan and surrounding areas. Not surprisingly considering the industry-wide shortage, recruiting technicians is ongoing at National Fleet Management, but it’s an effort that Black says is often successful.
“While skills and ability are high in priority when recruiting technicians, a big focus point for our team is our culture,” he says. “We believe it’s what sets us apart from other companies. We make sure new team members fit and mesh well with our operation.
“Even with the technician shortage there is a lot of talent out there that is looking for a positive atmosphere and a great work environment,” Black continues. “We believe if we continue to focus on our beliefs and values we will attract great talent.”
The National Fleet Management shop in Greensboro services all makes and models of heavy-duty tractors, trucks and trailers and some light- and
medium-duty equipment as well. The facility, which is staffed on two shifts on weekdays and during the day on Saturday, has four drive-through bays to accommodate tractor-trailers, a full wash bay, and one inspection and triage bay. A variety of heavy-duty tools are used in the shop, including wheel column lifts and specialty items for a wide range of engines and other vehicle systems.
Preventing costly breakdowns
Also provided out of the Greensboro facility is mobile on-site service with vehicles designed and equipped to perform up to 85% of all maintenance and repairs at customer locations. Whether in its shop or on site, Black notes, National Fleet Management works with its fleet customers to create preventive maintenance programs that help prevent costly breakdowns.
“Catching issues early is the key to maximizing uptime,” Black says. “We offer free, comprehensive 25-point inspections on all vehicles and equipment that come into the shop or that we service on-site. In addition, we minimize downtime by guaranteeing a two-hour triage time.
“That’s something we can do because we make effective use of diagnostic software from OEMs and other technology suppliers,” Black continues. “Included are the Jaltest diagnosis tool and the Noregon JPRO diagnostic and repair solution, which provide us with extensive multi-brand and multi-system coverage. With comprehensive diagnostics, we can quickly detect issues on vehicles and provide more efficient and productive service for customers.”
A Karmak dealer management system in the Greensboro facility also helps streamline service, Black notes.
“There’s a daily game plan checklist every morning in the software that lays out each technician’s work for the day and expected items for completion,” he explains. “There’s also a section for service writers to complete as they contact customers. This common platform and open communication provides for smoother workflow.”
Quality control checklist
For Black, a proactive approach is key to providing streamlined and effective service for customers. For example, he points out National Fleet Management’s extensive quality control process that includes a checklist for each unit that’s been serviced or repaired.
Communication is essential as well, Black adds. “If a customer rejects a repair for any reason, we have the ability to run a deferred task report that will break down each item and the reason it was not completed,” he relates. “Then we notify the customer to remind them of items that need to be addressed.
“We also have branch-level performance reporting using Key Process Indicators that we track daily, weekly and monthly,” Black says. “Our team also performs regular customer feedback assessments, and we run a variety of reports daily on technician time. All of these things help us identify improvement opportunities.
“For example,” Black continues, “labor time reports are broken down by task so we can see where a technician needs training. We have a company trainer that has set up multiple online courses for our staff and will also hold training classes at the shop.”
Management and leadership training are also very important to Black. “Our company sends groups of managers from all levels to Dave Ramsey EntreLeadership and Echelon Front leadership seminars annually,” he relates. “Our managers also meet monthly as a group and communicate one-on-one to discuss development plans and talk about new skills. We also stay connected to the industry’s repair community, and regularly attend local and national events to collaborate and network with other service providers.
Another factor driving performance at National Fleet Management, according to Black, is strong relationships with other company facilities and local dealerships, and through national aftermarket parts and service supplier networks. For example, National Fleet Management is a certified NAPA Truck Service Center, a program with over 900 facilities nationwide, and is part of the growing Meritor Service Point network of approved repair shops with locations across the United States and Canada.
“Those partnerships and programs provide a significant advantage to independent service providers like National Fleet Management,” Black says. “They give us access to information for diagnosing and repairing commercial vehicles, better parts pricing and availability, and training opportunities for technicians. They provide our customers the assurance that repairs are completed by qualified, trained technicians with the right parts, and the protection of a warranty that is honored across the country.
“Since 2008, National Fleet Management has been delivering professional fleet repair and maintenance services by building relationships with customers,” Black says. “Through effective communication and teamwork, we can to make sure our customers are taken care of at all times, and that their needs are always met.”