Help yourself by helping your customers

Blogs Lucas Deal March 20, 2013

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) Compliance Safety Accountability (CSA) program was less than a month old when I began working at Truck Parts & Service. From my first week on the job, it was clear the subject was going to matter.

The program forever changed the way fleets operate, and its innovative scoring system brought drivers to the forefront of vehicle safety.

Two years later it’s still one of the most discussed issues in the commercial trucking industry. There have always been regulations — but there’s never been anything quite like CSA.

Yet as frustrating and exhausting as it appears to be for fleets, I can’t help but see it as an opportunity for the aftermarket.

One of CSA’s seven BASIC categories is Vehicle Maintenance, and the rules under which the category is governed are quite severe. Fleets and their drivers are assessed points anytime a vehicle component is spotted as failing or not up to code. The two groups are allowed only a certain amount of points before a warning or suspension is levied, and if points continue to be acquired a fleet can be shut down and a driver dismissed.

The only way for fleets and their drivers to avoid these penalties are to stay in compliance. The best way to do that, as we all know, is to acquire parts and service from the aftermarket.

I think CSA provides a great opportunity for all of our businesses.

For the parts distributors out there, it’s given you a conversation piece for every sales call you make. No matter how big a fleet is, it’s fighting CSA. Whether the company’s issues are lights, brakes or cargo control — another BASIC category closely monitored by CSA — it needs new components to keep its fleet out of the shop and inspection lines.

You stock those components. You need to get out there and provide them to your customers.

Most fleets are working really hard to learn as much about CSA and they can, but it’s a tricky program to master. I spent several hours poring over documents on the CSA website for this month’s cover story and I’m still only beginning to understand all it. Fleets need people out there that can help.

Lucas Deal is the editor of Truck Parts & Service and Successful Dealer. He can be reached at lucasdeal@randallreilly.com.

You can follow me on twitter at @lddeal85

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