There’s a lot of well-founded discussion in the trucking industry about the shortage of technicians. I believe an even bigger potential impact on fleet performance, however, is the lack of qualified maintenance managers.
Many fleets are being held back by their maintenance managers. And often times, it is not the manager’s fault; it’s just the situation that he has been put in.
Let’s take a look at some of the challenges faced by maintenance managers at many fleets – take a walk in their shoes so to speak.
First of all, there is no formal education for a VP or director of maintenance. Whereas the CEO and COO can depend on a college degree and MBA in business management and finance, the head of maintenance must train on the job. If you hire from within, such as promoting a shop manager up the ladder, you need a first-class training program and clear career path for your maintenance employees. If you’re hiring from another fleet, pay close attention to their training and career development.
Once your maintenance executive is in place, what are some of the common reasons for a short shelf life? Based on my work with many fleets, large and small, over the past 18 years, here’s some that I’ve observed:
- Frustrated with lack of solid direction from senior management, or leadership by committee
- Lack of appreciation; looked down upon as still a “grease monkey”
- Unachievable, manipulated goals in the compensation package
- Unrealistic controls and expectations from finance department
- Excessive busy work in reporting
- Over controlling handcuffs by HR department
- Forced cuts in staff levels
- Using techs to drive trucks
I’ve also observed common reasons why maintenance executives stay in their jobs – both good and bad. First, the bad:
- Passion is gone, but staying is easier than the alternative.
- Laying low, waiting to get asked to leave.
- Succeeding is no longer important, but the paychecks and vacation time are hard to give up.
Now let’s look at some of the positive reasons why they stay:
- There are constant but achievable challenges
- Loyalty to the company and owner/CEO
- Great leadership and fellow team members
- Involved in all related areas; part of the processes
- Respected and treated as a leader
- Compensated well for the responsibility and results
- Just plain feels appreciated
My next guest blog post for Double Coin Tires will provide actionable advice on achieving these positive reasons for your maintenance executives to stay with your company and thrive.
In the meantime, if you have any comments or questions, please submit below and I will respond.
Thank you and happy trucking!
Darry Stuart is a guest blogger for Double Coin Tires. He founded DWS Fleet Management Services in 1999 and has helped many fleets, both large and small, improve their bottom line. He advises his clients on tires (here's what he thinks about Double Coin), but devotes most of his efforts to personnel and organizational issues.