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How Contract Maintenance Can Help Turn Downtime into Uptime

How Contract Maintenance Can Help Turn Downtime into Uptime

Fleet managers have rarely faced as many challenges as they do today, from staffing shortages to state and federal regulations to changing truck technology and so much more. They have to face all of these issues while also being required to control costs and improve operational efficiency. Fleet managers need to reduce downtime, optimize operations, and minimize unexpected maintenance expenses. One of the ways to achieve these goals is through working with a third party for contract maintenance.

As an article in Fleet Equipment Magazine notes, “Having the right maintenance contract in place can potentially save fleets a truckload of time, money and downtime-related headaches. These maintenance programs allow a fleet to outsource maintenance and repair work for their trucking equipment to companies that specialize in vehicle service.”

Some fleet managers may feel reluctant to cede control over this vital aspect of a fleet’s “health,” but the reality is that the benefits far outweigh the misconception of a loss of control.

  • Accurate budgeting – Although managers can assess the predictable costs of preventive maintenance (PM) for each asset, there is no way to budget for the unexpected costs of breakdowns and repair bills. With contract maintenance, there is a fixed monthly or annual fee that enables the manger to accurately budget for maintenance expenses. That, in turn, can lead to better financial planning and allocation of resources.
  • Reduced downtime – There is no more dreaded word in the fleet manager vernacular than “downtime.” Every hour an asset is out of commission translates into lost revenue and potential harm to relationships with a customer due to delays. Keeping trucks road-ready relies on regularly scheduled maintenance. In a 2021 article for CCJ, NationaLease’s Joe Gallick, Senior Vice President of Sales states, “A good contract maintenance provider knows that the nucleus of truck maintenance is always a structured, rigid preventative maintenance program.” With regularly scheduled PMs, issues can often be identified before they turn into major problems resulting in a breakdown.
  • Access to technology, personnel, and resources – I’ve written quite often on the shortage of qualified diesel technicians, changing technology, and the growing cost of both digital and physical tools. Contract maintenance providers have skilled technicians that have worked on a wide variety of Classes of trucks and have experience with newer technology. Consider the onset of alternative fuels and EVs and what that will mean for technician training and new equipment. Not having to invest in these human and digital assets and resources internally is a huge advantage when it comes to cost savings.
  • Seasonality and scalability – Regardless of the fleet size, for many companies, there are busy seasons where more maintenance may be needed. To carry the burden of having a fully staffed maintenance crew for off-season slowdowns is not cost-effective for those companies. A contract maintenance provider works to meet the specific needs of your fleet and can adjust the scope of services to meet those needs.
  • Regulatory and safety compliance – Fleets that are non-compliant can end up costing the company significant amounts when it comes to regulatory fines and penalties. The cost may not only be to the company’s bottom line; it can also be to its reputation. Contract maintenance providers are extremely sensitive when it comes to compliance issues. They should have systems in place to ensure that all maintenance and inspections are performed according to industry standards and legal requirements.

Not all contract maintenance providers are the same

Once the decision has been made to work with a provider, a fleet manager needs to ensure that they are working with a partner that really meets their needs and their business goals and isn’t trying to sell them a one-size-fits-all contract. As Joe Gallick notes in the linked article above, “A successful contract maintenance program is one where the service provider is fully knowledgeable of not only the customer’s truck fleet, but also its business operation and delivery requirements.” Then the provider can tailor a program to meet those needs and goals.

About Jane Clark

Jane Clark is Vice President of Member Services for NationaLease. Before joining the full service truck leasing organization, she served in executive positions with some of the nation’s top staffing and recruitment agencies.

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