As I have talked about previously in this blog, with fleets’ trucks aging, proper maintenance is more important than ever. Older trucks may also need maintenance more frequently than newer trucks and that is overwhelming some fleets’ shops. This has them scrambling to find outside service providers they can rely on to help keep their trucks well-maintained.
There are a variety of options available for fleets seeking to outsource some or all their maintenance. However, fleet managers need to make sure they partner with the right company. Choosing the wrong maintenance provider can have dire consequences.
When looking for an outside service provider, there are some very specific things you need to look for but also some overarching factors to consider.
The relationship with your service provider needs to be based on clear communication. You want a partner that is direct and transparent when communicating with you. You want them to stick to the facts about what they can do and not make vague promises. You also need to make sure both you and the service provider are crystal clear on what you expect from them and what they can deliver.
You want a partner that delivers on what they promise, whether that is meeting repair deadlines, having repair parts on hand or being able to get them quickly, keeping their technicians trained on the types of repairs you need, etc. It is unrealistic of you to expect that the service provider will never make a mistake. Even the best of us has an “off” day. When a mistake occurs, the service provider needs to acknowledge the error and should rectify it as quickly as possible.
In addition to those overarching factors, there are some practical things you need to explore.
If your fleet operates in a diverse geographic area, does the service provider have outlets in those locations where your trucks can get serviced? If not, does it have relationships with other maintenance providers that can provide the same level of service you expect? Do they have consistent parts and labor rates across their network?
Make sure to ask about the breadth and depth of their parts inventory and about how quickly they can get parts they don’t normally stock. Of course, you need to be realistic with this expectation, as supply chain issues are making it difficult for everyone to get needed parts in a timely fashion.
Investigate the type of information they can provide you in terms of the real-time status of your repairs. What types of key performance indicators do they use to monitor their effectiveness? What data is included in dashboards that you have access to? Ask them what happens in the event one of your trucks breaks down on the road. Do they have a call center that manages the repair even if they don’t have a shop in the area where the breakdown occurred?
Data is vital to proper decision-making about how long to keep an asset. Determine if the service provider is using a maintenance management system that gathers data from every maintenance and repair event and whether they have data analysts that can spot wear and failure trends for you.
By asking a lot of questions and clearly setting expectations, you can find a maintenance provider that is well-suited for your needs and give you peace of mind that your trucks are being taken care of properly.
Jane Clark is vice president of member services for NationaLease. In this position, she is focused on managing the member services operation as well as working to strengthen member relationships, reduce member costs, and improve collaboration within the NationaLease supporting groups. Prior to joining NationaLease, Clark served as area vice president for Randstad, one of the nation’s largest recruitment agencies, and before that, she served in management posts with QPS Cos., Pro Staff, and Manpower Inc.