There are many benefits for fleets to outsourcing maintenance, whether local or with a far-reaching franchise.
This is especially true when sticking with one provider. But automotive repair and service shops stand to gain just as much through a solid partnership with fleets.
To better understand the mutual benefits of a partnership and how to increase revenue through supporting fleet customers, it’s important to understand why there’s an outsourcing need on the fleet side.
While some fleets perform 100 percent of their services in-house, many either divide the labour or outsource completely. Much of this decision is based on capacity, labour availability and capability, and budget. Because of the increased difficulty in hiring automotive technicians due to labour shortages, more fleets are seeing the need to outsource maintenance and repairs.
Additionally, increased lead times on replacement parts due to supply chain constraints is impacting in-house service times. Those same shortages are also affecting lead times for vehicle procurement, meaning fleets are having to keep older assets on the road longer, and those assets have to be safe.
Partnering with fleets to help extend their vehicles’ lifespans and keep their assets in safe operating conditions doesn’t just help them, it means guaranteed, steady work for your shop.
Guidance and support
When fleet managers shop around for a service provider with which to partner, there are several deciding factors they take into account: Location, pricing, availability, amenities (think mobile mechanics) and services offered, for example. Fleets that use fleet management software (FMS) may request that you be willing to use their work order app to streamline maintenance and repair processes and speed up service times with auto-approvals.
When starting a partnership with a new fleet customer, set expectations so that everyone is on the same page — and be sure to ask questions. You want to find out early if there is anything they expect of you that is beyond your scope of work — or simply an unreasonable ask — and nip it in the bud.
A good way to strengthen your partnership with a fleet customer is by issue resolution. As time goes on, you’ll get a feel for the problem vehicles in the fleet and be able to recommend an issue resolution based on what you find — maybe a certain brand part can’t hold up to the daily grind or a secondary, unaddressed issue is the actual cause. You can also ask for service histories for the entire fleet or for specific vehicles to get a better idea of what might be causing certain recurring problems.
Whether through service histories or routine visits, over time you’ll get to know the fleet vehicles and be in the position of service expert for the fleet. As the expert, fleet managers will rely on your recommendations for any additional needed services or preventive maintenance (PM) schedule changes, so open and honest communication is mutually beneficial.
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Optimizing maintenance schedules
With the right proactive maintenance plan in place for fleets, your largest source of fleet service should be run-of-the-mill PM. By taking on a fleet’s maintenance program, you can help strengthen its PM schedules to optimize vehicle lifespan and keep a steady stream of business coming into your bays — and predictable business at that.
Using a fleet customer’s maintenance history, you can work with fleet managers to set up a PM schedule that improves their operation and is easy to schedule and carry out on your end. Working closely with the fleet manager (or whomever your point of contact with the fleet may be), you can streamline workflows and speed up repair services by:
Discussing types of recommended services outside of PM that can be auto-approved
Discussing dollar amounts for recommended services that can be auto-approved
Discussing who on the fleet side can approve additional services outside of original work orders
Discussing who on the shop side can sign off on recommended services not included on original work orders
Discussing best times for both parties to handle standard PM for faster service and reduced downtime
Having these discussions with your fleet customers can set you up for success when it comes to scheduling service. Based on PM intervals, you’ll know well ahead of time which vehicles need to come in and within what timeframe and can schedule accordingly. This can reduce stress in the shop and help strengthen the partnership with your fleet customers.
When you partner with a fleet, you’re essentially “winning” long-term business. It’s equally important to prove to fleet customers that partnering with your shop is as beneficial for them as it is for you. We know that tightened PM and faster service benefit fleets through decreased downtime and lengthened asset lifespans, but proving something you know to be true instinctively with data to back it up makes all the difference.
To prove the value of your partnership to fleets, put a process in place to track these three key performance indicators (KPIs): service time, response time to repair requests, and PM compliance rate.
While there are other metrics you can track, the above KPIs are proof positive of the value in a fleet customer partnering with your shop (provided the numbers look good). Tracking these metrics may sound like a lot of work, but if your fleet customer is using FMS, most of this data is already being recorded in the background. Outsourced maintenance automation through FMS allows fleets to quickly and easily communicate with shops in real-time for work order approvals, rejections, or last-minute additions, consolidate billing, see vehicle status alerts in real-time, see mechanic clock-in/out data for service jobs, and record detailed invoices down to the line item. Regardless of technology, however, partnering with fleet customers can be a lucrative move for shops of any size.
Rachael Plant is a content marketing specialist for Fleetio, a fleet management software company that helps organizations track, analyze and improve their fleet operations. For more info, visit fleetio.com.