Fleet maintenance: Choosing the right service provider

In the current economic climate, businesses are looking for ways to cut costs. Often the business’ fleet of cars or vans will make up a large part of the company’s asset base and running and maintenance can be quite costly. So it is important to choose the right service provider for your fleet to not only cut down on costs, but improve efficiencies.

In the past, the focus has been on the correct selection of the funding arrangements, own versus lease, and choosing vehicles that are fit for the purpose.

But there are other factors that need to be considered such as the replacement policy. By retaining your vehicles beyond their normal turnover period you can use these funds elsewhere within the business. However if you do this you still need to protect the value of your asset. Continuing to have the vehicle serviced regularly may help you achieve this.

In order to best maintain the vehicle, recommendations within the vehicle handbook should be considered. These indentify what work should be conducted and when, and if not followed may affect the statutory warranty associated with the vehicle.

In choosing which service provider you will use, it helps to ask the following:

  • Will qualified staff perform the work?
  • Will it be done according to the manufacturers specifications?
  • Will the parts used be of appropriate quality?

If the conditions above are met you can then focus on the value proposition from your selected providers, whether they are manufacturer’s dealers or independents, including retail chains.

Value will vary as to what is important to you but may include location convenience, hours of operation, site facilities, brands used, own guarantees offered and, of course, the final cost.

Most reputable providers should be able to provide you with a cost for the work involved, prior to commencing. The kinds of questions to ask about the cost are:

  • Do they adhere to the manufacturers recommended times for work performed?
  • Does it include any applicable environmental levies or workshop supply charges? (In the case of tyre purchases ensure any price you are quoted includes fitting, balancing and disposal so you know what your true final cost will be).
  • Will they stamp my handbook as proof the work has been performed as per the manufacturers recommendations?

The benefits of having this regular maintenance performed has a flow on effect as a properly maintained vehicle consumes less fuel, reduces the overall wear and tear on the vehicle and helps preserve the resale or residual value.

Vehicles outside of their warranty period should not be neglected either. Scheduled servicing can be performed or it may be appropriate, given the likely age of the vehicle, to consider other options.

Many independents offer a range of fixed price services that will manage the basics (from simply the oil, oil filter & battery check to a more comprehensive package) to keep your vehicle operating. Ensure that they also provide a vehicle check when they perform these so you are made aware of other work that needs attention now or in the future.

Considering these items, even if your fleet is small, means you can make considerable savings that flow straight into your business.

For more information on fleet maintenance go to www.ktas.com.au

This article is the writer’s opinion only and shall not be taken to be giving legal, financial or other advice.

Mark Spiteri is the National Sales & Business Development Manager for Kmart Tyre & Auto Service, Australia’s largest network provider of mechanical services and tyres.

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