With so many things changing within the industry, how do you know which supplier will best suit your needs?
Last month, I posted the first blog in this series on fleet maintenance best practices. Part 1 dealt with the importance of gathering the information necessary to spec the right truck for the application. This month, I’m focusing on the speed of changes and why that speed of change means you need to find suppliers who have a “partner” mentality.
For years, the industry used historical life cycle cost data as a major consideration in making purchasing decisions. Typically, that full life cycle analysis took seven years of data collection to make good informed component selection decisions. But in today’s world, no company can wait seven years to make decisions essential to a company’s growth. The reality is with today’s regulatory changes, hyper-speed technology advancement and engineering and materials development, fleets no longer have proven life cycle data to support their purchasing decisions. In fact, by the time all the data is collected and analyzed, many of the components and technology have changed significantly.
This doesn’t mean that you should no longer conduct life cycle analyses. You should continue to do so, but you should pair that with a focus on finding suppliers that are willing to stand behind their products and services. If suppliers make design or product mistakes, it’s only natural that we expect them to stand behind the product, even after the expiration of warranties.
But what has changed the equation is the speed of development and changes in technology. No longer do OEMs have the research and development times they once relied upon. That includes lengthy testing times enabling them to go to market with full confidence. The luxury of collecting seven years of real-life data to prove a product’s performance is no longer viable. And that foreshortening of time has led, in recent years, to some pretty significant product quality issues.
That is why the relationship between customer and supplier has become more important than ever. You should look for suppliers who are there for you in the “tough” times, when design or quality issues occur; a supplier who looks upon itself as a “partner” who can contribute to your success rather than simply a vendor who sells you a product and then disappears until the next sale occurs. The real test of a valued supplier is, will that supplier be there when things go wrong with an immediate satisfactory response, whether that be an apology, a replacement part or the promise to make things right, regardless of cost.