Mobile fleet services aren’t new, but they are growing much more popular as companies aim to reduce driver downtime, lower total cost of ownership (TCO), and increase customer-service response time.
On-demand vehicle maintenance and repair startups continue to pop up in response to fleet demand for mobile solutions, and traditional fleet providers are innovating to keep up.
With the cost of unscheduled vehicle downtime ranging from $448 to $760 per day, mobile services companies believe they can save fleets a significant amount of money by disrupting the traditional in-shop preventive maintenance (PM) and repair model.
Mobile Services Answer the Call to Reduce Fleet Downtime
Today, there are too many mobile fleet services companies, both new and old, to count. They provide on-site repair, PM, refueling, and washing services that fleets now demand to streamline vehicle care and get drivers back on the road faster.
Seattle-based Wrench, which formed in 2017, raised $20 million in a new round of funding in November 2019. The company offers a fleet management and maintenance platform and on-site vehicle repair and maintenance services. Wrench didn’t take long to begin expanding its market presence; it acquired mobile vehicle mechanic startup Fiix in 2019.
Wrench competitor RepairSmith, headquartered in Los Angeles, was founded in 2018 and is backed by Daimler AG. Its advertised services include PM, multipoint inspections, diagnostics, and 200-plus repairs. In addition to its consumer offerings, the company also provides repairs and routine maintenance on-site for businesses.
Cox Automotive got in on the mobile vehicle services craze when its newly formed Mobility Group launched Pivet, a mobile fleet services network, in early 2019. The service provides cleaning, detailing, fueling, charging electric vehicles, maintenance, storage, parking, and logistics at a combination of stationary hubs, as well as through mobile providers that go to wherever the vehicles are located.
In 2018, Cox acquired mobile car care company RideKleen, and late last year, it announced that RideKleen would begin offering 24/7 mobile full-service fleet care across the U.S.
Other companies serving the competitive mobile vehicle services market are refueling startup Filld; gas, car wash, and oil change provider Yoshi; and car-wash provider and PM company Spiffy, which all service fleets.
Work Truck magazine spoke with three companies that “answered the call” to provide commercial fleets with reliable and cost-effective mobile services — YourMechanic, Pep Boys, and Booster Fuels. Here’s what they had to say about serving this burgeoning market.
YourMechanic Sends Mechanics to Fleet Sites
YourMechanic, a privately held startup based in Mountain View, Calif., formed in 2012 “to leverage technology to service any vehicle, any place, any time.” To date, the company has raised $41 million in funding, with its latest funding round in 2018.
The company’s mobile repair services help vehicles remain in service longer, maintain safety compliance, and avoid vehicle depreciation. It completes vehicle repairs and maintenance services directly on fleet lots and hubs.
“Our mobile repair services help businesses increase revenue by enabling fleets to keep vehicles in utilization, maintain safety compliance, and avoid vehicle depreciation,” said Anthony Rodio, president and chief executive officer of YourMechanic. “There isn’t a sector that doesn’t need fleet maintenance; from mobile dog groomers to mobile X-ray technicians, every sector now offers mobile service.”
The company’s fleet customers typically have services completed during “off hours” on-site so vehicles aren’t taken out of service. Each mechanic can handle half a dozen vehicles in a few hours on a Tuesday evening, for example, Rodio explained. This can save a company a lot of money since their vehicles don’t sit around a shop waiting to be serviced.
“According to Deloitte’s ‘Future of Mobility Report,’ the combination of repair costs, vehicle depreciation, and management costs amount to more than half of the total cost of ownership,” Rodio said. “With our services, we can decrease those costs by slowing depreciation with regularly scheduled maintenance, a decrease in management costs with our fleet portal technology, and a decrease in repair cost spend as we bring services directly to fleets’ locations.”
While YourMechanic performs more than 600 services, its fleet customers generally operate newer vehicles that require PM services such as oil changes, brakes, tire rotations, fluids, wipers, and cabin and air filters.
Pep Boys Launches On-Site Fleet Maintenance Program
Icahn Automotive Group acquired The Pep Boys — Manny, Moe & Jack in early 2016. And by 2019, it launched the Pep Boys Fleet program, which includes a Mobile Crew service format that provides standard maintenance and repair work on-site.
“We are continuing to expand our footprint nationally, as well as our Pep Boys Mobile Crew and AAMCO Mobile Diagnostics, which both launched in the past two years, extending our total fleet value package and reducing fleets’ downtime,” said Brian Kaner, CEO of Service at Icahn Automotive.
While the most common types of mobile services include repairs, tires, brakes, batteries, and suspension work, as fleet operators embrace the opportunity to streamline the total vehicle and repair maintenance process, Kaner sees strong growth in a broader range of services, including safety inspections and PM.
“Mobile service is an important element of a comprehensive fleet maintenance program, but it is just one element,” Kaner said. “Look for a provider that can simplify the maintenance and repair lifecycle for each vehicle and adapt to your business’ unique operational requirements.”
Booster Refuels Fleet Vehicles On-Site
San Mateo, Calif.-based startup Booster Fuels, formed in 2015 to provide same-day, on-site fuel delivery. It’s raised more than $88 million in funding, with its latest funding round in mid-2019 generating $56 million.
Today, Booster’s signature purple mini-tankers fuel more than 350 parked fleets every night with both diesel and gasoline. The company is now leading the same-day fuel delivery service industry in the U.S.
“Every vehicle we service can save a fleet up to 10% of their entire operations costs,” said James Solada, director of fleet marketing at Booster. “Booster’s technology tabulates one fuel bill for an entire fleet, removing the tedious task of managing and reconciling hundreds of fuel-up receipts.”
The company’s app-based service helps manage fuel costs, improve fleet maintenance, and increase productivity, resulting in a savings of up to $1,500 per vehicle every year, according to Booster. The savings come from eliminating time spent driving to and from gas stations, pumping gas, and paying for gas.
The response from the company’s fleet customers has been overwhelmingly positive, according to Solada, and include feedback such as, “We can’t imagine our business without gas delivery” and, “Crews can focus on more important tasks and can be there when our customers need them.” One fleet using Booster reduced fueling expenses by 80%, while another saved more than $483,000 in annual labor costs.
A Growing Industry
Rodio of YourMechanic summed up why the mobile fleet services industry is booming.
“The ability to keep vehicles at the fleet location and perform mobile services — from fueling to car washes — is revolutionary for fleets because it enables them to keep their vehicles in use during working hours and avoid paying their people to chauffeur their vehicles to shops, gas stations, etc.,” he said. “Having vehicle services delivered to fleet sites is a major game changer for fleet revenue growth and efficiency.”
Demand for mobile fleet services will only continue to grow. According to market research company Frost & Sullivan, while 20% of today’s vehicles are sold to fleets, that number is expected to be as high as 40% over the next 20 years as ride-sharing, ride-hailing, and online retail continues to grow.