Editorial: Denise Rondini

Just Ask Them


Denise Rondini Untitled 1By Denise L. Rondini, Executive Editor




If you want to know what fleets want, just ask them. We did and they told us very clearly. They want their trucks on the road hauling freight.

Mike Delaney, president and CEO of WheelTime, uses the phrase “moving and loading.” He says this is the only state a truck can be in where it is actually generating money.

We all know that trucks can’t always be moving and loading and that sometimes they breakdown. It is what happens surrounding the breakdown that is most critical to fleets.

Fleets do not want to bring a truck to your shop only to have it sit for several days before it even gets looked at. I know many of you independent service providers think your speed of service gives you a huge advantage over truck dealers.

You might want to consider this: while 70.3 percent of the respondents to a survey conducted for us by Commercial Carrier Journal (Truck Parts & Service’s sister publication) ranked the ability to get trucks in for service in a timely manner as their biggest problem with truck dealers, 68.4 percent said the same thing about independents.

So maybe you are not doing as good as you think you are.

Another complaint from fleets is lack of communication. One fleet respondent who asked not to be named said: “Solid communication is really lacking. It’s frustrating when you can’t get an estimate in a timely manner or an update on the status of your equipment.”

The way to get more service business from fleets — and fleets say they do want to outsource more of their repairs — is to review your repair process from the beginning.

It is human nature not to want to give someone bad news so that may be what prevents some service managers from calling a fleet. No one wants to be the one to tell a fleet the repair is going to take two days longer than originally anticipated because the necessary parts are not in stock.

But fleets told us they would rather hear bad news as soon as possible because that allows them to make better decisions about how to meet the needs of their customers.

There are technology solutions on the market today that can be brought to bear on the repair process. These create transparency in the repair process and allow the fleet to see how the repair is progressing.

They also allow a service provider to get approvals for additional repairs more quickly, which can allow repairs to be completed faster.

The way to get more service business from fleets — and fleets say they do want to outsource more of their repairs — is to review your repair process from the beginning.

Remove any obstacles that get in the way of trucks being diagnosed quickly. Review your parts inventory to make sure you have the proper breadth and depth of parts so that you will have the needed parts in stock.

Assign the repair to the technician with the skills to complete it right the first time and make sure he has the tools and training he needs. And keep the customer informed throughout the process.

None of that sounds too difficult, but it won’t happen unless you acknowledge where your process needs shoring up and then take the right steps to fix it.

Delaney believes those service providers who grab hold of the technology and tools and really start to work with customers in a more advanced way are going to be winners and are going to lead the aftermarket.

“It is now time for parts and service to make an impact on the overall profitability of the carriers,” Delaney says.

Wouldn’t it be nice for the aftermarket to be in the lead for a change?


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