Let’s face it, being a school bus mechanic can be a pretty thankless job. They don’t get facetime with the kids. They don’t get a picture colored for them or gifts during the holidays from grateful parents. Yet they have a vital task: keeping the fleet that transports and protects those children mechanically safe and sound through all kinds of weather conditions.

Many of our employees at Tyler Technologies know this firsthand, because they came from the K-12 industry. Solutions Consultant Kim Rentner worked for many years as a transportation director and also has plenty of experience turning wrenches in the garage. She said, “I started in the garage as a way to gain knowledge about air brakes so I could better train my drivers. I had no idea how much I would learn about how hard these mechanics work, how much they care, and how school could not run without them. I’ve seen a mechanic come out in pouring rain and change a pair of wiper blades on a bus full of students, so they could proceed safely through the storm. He climbed on the hood and changed them right there!”

At Tyler, Kim is able to use her experience working with fleet mechanics to help districts understand the value of fleet maintenance software, and explain that value to their staff. Here’s what she tells directors who want to introduce this new technology, and aren’t sure how to get buy in:

  • Get under the hood! Part of Kim’s job as a director was to give her team the tools they needed to do their jobs. She knew an important place to start was by learning exactly what her mechanics did every day.
  • Explain what’s in it for them. Software can make your operation more efficient and reliable, but how do those efficiencies translate to the person under the hood? If they can proactively track vehicle maintenance, it means they’re not called out to as many bus breakdowns. They can better help with age and obsolescence plans for the fleet. If the software can track inventory, it’s one less thing they have to worry about and a better use of their time.
  • Include them in the decision-making. Invite them to vendor demos and have them ready questions for the vendor that are pertinent to their job duties.
  • Consider mobile-friendly software. It is very time consuming for a mechanic to sit down at the end of the day to complete a bunch of data entry. Mobile solutions are the future of everything, so look for fleet maintenance software that your mechanic can use anywhere, including (literally) from under the bus.

Most people, including me until I worked for Tyler, just don’t know how much work goes into K-12 transportation. That’s why we hire from the industry, and why we make sure to talk to our clients. A driver for a carrier company once told me they were allowed to be within a certain percentage of lost packages per month. But in the K-12 transportation industry, every task has to be completed with 100% accuracy. Make sure your fleet maintenance software is as reliable and flexible as the mechanics who will be using it.

Content contributions by Tyler Technologies solutions consultants Kim Rentner and Brant Gardner.

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