There comes a time in most long-lived careers when you have to pass the torch. Recently, Ed Pearce passed the torch of manager of fleet service operations and support, GM, to Renee Smith. Smith’s work ethic, background, and customer-centric drive instilled the confidence Pearce needed to retire with the peace of mind that his former team and customers would continue to thrive.
Though not easy, the manager of fleet service operation and support position is fulfilling. “The majority of what drew me to the position was my background,” Smith explains. Her former positions include GM dealer service management, commercial sales and service roles, recall management positions, and brand quality experience. “I think the biggest thing is that I enjoy working with customers. We always put them first here, so being able to provide them with innovative solutions and out-of-the-box thinking for fleets in regards to problem resolution is really number one for me.”
While the customers are a highlight of the job, there is a wide variety of challenges. “I always try to be proactive vs reactive, but the challenges in the fleet space aren’t consistent. Every day is a different condition or a different discovery,” says Smith. “Number one in our book is supporting the fleets with regards to any safety, emission, or any non-compliant recalls that are announced by working through local dealers that can help accommodate their volumes and ensuring that the in-shop locations have prioritization.”
Pearce, who has been in the fleet game for about 15 years after spending time in brand quality, field, and retail service management positions, explains that for him, “It’s always been about the customer, and it’s about having a servitude attitude. Being able to take a customer with some kind of a significant issue—and they’re all significant—and then get that problem resolved is what the team I built over the years has been able to do. The biggest challenge that I had was educating those who don’t fully understand the fleet environment.” That’s a big part of what Pearce’s former and Renee’s current team does.
A big part of fleet support is helping fleet shop techs keep vehicles up and running. “Because we’re in an ever-changing world of products and daily increase in technology, training can be very challenging for fleet technicians,” Smith says. “In most cases, the fleets are repairing vehicles from multiple manufacturers. We offer them WebEx training videos and hands-on training at the fleet locations to help them get through some of those hurdles.”
“When you talk about diversity of product,” adds Pearce, “it goes far beyond just cars or trucks; it goes to almost any kind of motor transportation or equipment that you might think of—anywhere from the biggest trucks that you can imagine that have snow plows on them right down to a chainsaw. How does a technician keep up with that? It’s so different at the dealership where they’re dealing with basically new products—maybe a couple of years old—every day, and it’s all the same manufacturer’s product. Those challenges are very difficult for a fleet technician.”
In the end, it’s all about the customer. While Pearce has—and Smith does—run the show, they give credit where it’s due. “I don’t help customers,” Pearce says. “Renee doesn’t help customers. It’s the team. It’s the whole team and it’s the ability to stay focused and keep the team focused on what needs to be done to help those customers.”
And, as Smith takes up the manager of fleet service operations and support torch, Pearce has no shortage of praise for her and her ability to succeed in her new role.