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Clark: Contract maintenance can lead to a reduction in downtime

May 27, 2024
Having the right maintenance contract in place can save fleets time, money, and, as a result of ongoing maintenance, downtime.

Fleet managers have rarely faced as many challenges as they do today, from staffing shortages to state and federal regulations to changing truck technology and so much more. They have to face all these issues while also being required to control costs and improve operational efficiency. Fleet managers must reduce downtime, optimize operations, and minimize unexpected maintenance expenses. One of the ways to achieve these goals is through working with a third party for contract maintenance.

Having the proper maintenance contract in place can save fleets time and money and, as a result of ongoing maintenance, downtime. Some fleet managers may feel reluctant to cede control over this vital aspect of a fleet’s “health,” but the reality is that the benefits far outweigh the misconception of a loss of control.

  • Accurate budgeting: Although managers can assess the predictable preventive maintenance costs for each asset, they cannot budget for unexpected breakdowns and repair bills. With contract maintenance, there is a fixed monthly or annual fee that enables the manager to accurately budget for maintenance expenses. That, in turn, can lead to better financial planning and resource allocation.
  • Reduced downtime: There is no more dreaded word in the fleet manager vernacular than “downtime.” Every hour an asset is out of commission translates into lost revenue and potential harm to relationships with a customer due to delays. Keeping trucks road-ready relies on regularly scheduled maintenance. With regularly scheduled PMs, issues can often be identified before they become major problems, resulting in a breakdown.
  • Access to technology, personnel, and resources: I’ve often written about the shortage of qualified diesel technicians, changing technology, and the growing cost of digital and physical tools. Contract maintenance providers have skilled technicians who have worked on various classes of trucks and have experience with newer technology. Consider the onset of alternative fuels and BEVs and what that will mean for technician training and latest equipment. Not having to invest in these human and digital assets and resources internally is a huge advantage in terms of cost savings.
  • Seasonality and scalability: Regardless of the fleet size, many companies have busy seasons when more maintenance may be needed. To carry the burden of having a fully staffed maintenance crew for off-season slowdowns is not cost-effective for those companies. A contract maintenance provider works to meet the specific needs of your fleet and can adjust the scope of services to meet those needs.
  • Regulatory and safety compliance: Fleets that are non-compliant can cost the company significant amounts in regulatory fines and penalties. The cost may not only affect the company’s bottom line but also its reputation. Contract maintenance providers are extremely sensitive to compliance issues. They should have systems in place to ensure that all maintenance and inspections are performed according to industry standards and legal requirements.

See also: Fontana: Market factors make it the right time to switch to contract maintenance

Not all contract maintenance providers are the same

Once the decision has been made to work with a provider, a fleet manager needs to ensure they are working with a partner that meets their needs and business goals and isn’t trying to sell them a one-size-fits-all contract. Work with a provider that can tailor a program to fit your fleet’s specific needs.

About the Author

Jane Clark | Senior VP of Operations

Jane Clark is Senior Vice President, Operations for NationaLease. Prior to joining NationaLease, Jane 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 Companies, Pro Staff, and Manpower, Inc.

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