Learning Zone

How to select a fleet maintenance provider

By Lily Hartley
20 September 2021

Choosing the right fleet maintenance provider is essential if you run vehicles. Get it wrong and your company could literally grind to a halt. Get it right, though, and they can help supercharge your business. Vehicles, products and services constantly on the move, the work rate of employees skyrocketing and your operation more efficient, agile and smarter than ever.

That’s because vehicles are the lifeblood of many businesses. And having them sitting dormant in workshops means the pulse of productivity is slowing. A good fleet maintenance provider will not only reduce this ‘downtime’, but ensure that any work is completed quickly, to a high standard and cost effectively. And along the way, you’ll learn if there are any weaknesses in your company structures, and be able to reduce costs too.

So here are some of the questions you need to answer to select a fleet maintenance provider.

What do you need from them?

It might seem obvious, but make sure that your maintenance provider can actually service and repair the vehicles on your fleet. Just having a big network of workshops doesn’t mean they can maintain your specific vehicles, and in the way you need them. It’s no good if the vehicles are having to travel hundreds of miles for work, for example.

You need to look for one that matches your fleet needs on a practical level, but also understands your culture and how you work. They are there to serve you, not the other way round. So if you require 24 hour, 7 days a week response, then ensure they can offer this. But if you don’t, make sure you’re not paying for something you don’t need.

What level of service/KPIs/pricing can they offer?

At the outset, you need to establish key performance indicators and service levels to measure against performance. A good fleet maintenance provider will be able to demonstrate what you can expect before you sign on the dotted line.

It’s vital they can be held to pre-agreed response and downtime metrics, so you know how long it will take to act in the event of a repair, or the time to get vehicles back on the road, for example. Software and dashboards should be able to show you whether this is being met.

And then there’s pricing. Clear, demonstrable pricing for parts, labour and regular work should be a given. If they can’t sign up to this, then it’s likely you will end up with a lot of invoices, queries and mission creep on jobs.

How do their systems fit with your systems?

Understand from the outset how integration of systems will work. If accessing their systems to find out what’s going on across the fleet is hard work, then it will affect your ability to do your job keeping vehicles on the road.

Cloud-based systems can ensure that there are no big, invasive, expensive internal IT projects needed upon integration.

What insight can you get?

Insight is everything. You can’t manage what you can’t measure. A good fleet maintenance provider will provide you with actionable intelligence about what’s going on, on the ground, in real time. That could mean issues with particular models or drivers, reliability problems with certain parts, workshop efficiency metrics and what vehicles are off-road and for how long. But they will also be able to offer solutions.

Either they can do this proactively with regular meetings and communication, or provide you with dashboards that highlight everything you need to know. If they can’t offer you that insight, chances are they don’t know themselves.

How does their administration work?

What you don’t want from a fleet maintenance provider is a hugely increased workload and administration. They’re there to take the strain so you can get on with the managing the parts of the company that are moving and generating business.

If you’re stuck with hours of sifting through invoices, queries and job sheets, then they’re not doing the job for you. A good fleet maintenance provider will present you only with the insights to improve fleet effectiveness, and offer solutions to problems.

Can they scale?

You might find that the fleet maintenance provider you started with as a small business was great for a few vans in one location. But can they grow with you, and can they scale their systems to match your growth? They need software and systems that are agile, highly developed and ahead of the game. You don’t need to be pointing out your needs, and waiting for upgrades match them.

A good fleet maintenance provider will have the expertise, software, systems and network that can match your growth, not hold it back.

What integrations can they offer?

As well as maintenance management, you need a provider who can confidently integrate with all other aspects of your fleet operation. That could mean telematics which inform them, and you, of issues, licence checking and compliance management systems, or fuel cards which show what your vehicles are costing.

If a provider can tick all these boxes, then you’ve got a partner that will empower your fleet operation, not de-power it.