National Connections, Local Ownership
National Connections, Local Ownership

Clark: 5 questions to ask outside service providers

Originally appeared in Fleet Owner

Today’s trucks are complex pieces of machinery. Add to that the cost of diagnostics equipment and the investment that needs to be made in training technicians—if you can even find them—and you have compelling reasons to consider turning over the maintenance and repair of your vehicles to outside service providers.

When searching for the right outside service provider, make sure to ask these questions:

  1. What process is used to diagnose and troubleshoot? Time is of the essence when it comes to a downed vehicle. Find out if the outside service provider has a triage system in place that results in initial diagnosis taking place in a short period of time—two to four hours is ideal. Make sure that once the diagnosis is made, they are able to give you an accurate estimate of how quickly they can get the vehicle into the service bay and how long it will take to compete the repair. Ask if they have express bays for repairs that take under four hours so that you are not waiting days for your “quick fix” repair.
  2. Do they have the right number of technicians and what is the skill level of those techs? Have a conversation with a provider about the number of technicians that have certifications that are specific to the types of repairs your vehicles typically need. Ask them about their investment in training. Given how quickly trucking technology is evolving, you’ll want to make sure that technicians working on your trucks are continually trained on the new technology so repairs can be completed right the first time.
  3. What have they invested in tools and equipment? To properly diagnose a problem and complete a repair, technicians need the proper tools and equipment—especially electronic diagnostics tools. Are there computers in each bay that technicians can access? Do they have the correct assortment of specialty tools?
  4. How much have they invested in parts inventory? Nothing is more frustrating than a repair that can’t be complete because a replacement part is not available. Ask prospective service providers about the breadth and depth of their inventory. Also, inquire about who their parts suppliers are to ensure they have the parts brands you prefer.
  5. How are they tracking the repair process? Have they invested in technology that allows them to manage the repair process electronically? Are you able to access the progress of the repair in real-time, or do they send you regular updates on how the repair is progressing? Can you set pre-authorization levels for additional work that is needed but is not discovered until after the initial repair has begun?

By asking the right questions, you can find outside service providers that will take care of your trucks just the way you would. Remember, before you begin the process, make sure you have a thorough understanding of your maintenance and repair needs so you can properly communicate them to any prospective outside service provider. The right fit between your needs and the outside service provider’s capability is crucial.