Better Fleet/Service Provider Relations

TMC task force works to improve business dealings between fleets and service providers


Due to a plethora of factors, service providers and fleets, when dealing with one another, have to contend with a variety of challenges. This is especially the case in a vehicle-down situation.

There are three chief issues at the heart of the fleet/service provider relations. At the forefront is effective communications. Another matter is different expectations of the service experience. Then there is the disconnect because each fleet and each service provider because all have their own way of doing things and typically their processes and procedures do not mesh.

To help improve efficiencies and build better business relationships between service providers and fleets, the Technology & Maintenance Council (TMC), at its Fall Meeting in September 2009, established the Service Provider Committee. Its purpose was to deal with the long-standing issues service providers and fleets frequently have in transacting business together, especially when set to work with one another for the first time.

TMC is North America’s premier technical society for truck equipment technology and maintenance professionals. A technical council of American Trucking Associations, the largest national trade association for the trucking industry, TMC’s mission is to improve transport equipment, its maintenance and maintenance management.

DIVERGENT VIEWPOINTS

The Service Provider Committee grew out of a Task Force within TMC’s S.5 Fleet Maintenance Management Study Group, recalls Kenneth Calhoun, vice president of customer relations for Truck Centers of Arkansas, who chairs the committee. At the time, this task force was developing guidelines for establishing a business relationship between a fleet and a service provider.

“The aim was to help smooth the business dealing if a fleet and a service provider were doing business for the first time,” he explains. “The guidelines would define expectations on front end and thereby reduce the possibility for screws up, hurt feelings and getting off to a bad start.”

Good business relationships are based on communication, performance, trust and accountability, says Calhoun.

With a lot of good input from both fleet and service providers, the Fleet Maintenance Management task force produced TMC Recommended Practice (RP) 535, “Template for Establishing Fleet/Service Provider Relationships.”

TMC issues two types of RPs: Recommended Maintenance Practices and Recommended Engineering Practices. These are specifications or practices, the adoption of which is voluntary.

LARGER ISSUES

From the development work that lead to RP 535, along with discussions between fleets and service providers, then TMC general chairman Brent Hilton, director of maintenance for Maverick Transportation, decided the matter of service provider and fleet relationships warranted its own study group to address the many issues.

Consequently, the Service Provider Committee was formed and Charles Voyles, then service director for Truck Centers, Troy, IL, and now a fleet service manager with Navistar was appointed chairman. The committee was charged with gaining a better understanding of the challenges that both the fleets and service providers - both independent shops and OEM dealers - face, in order to create procedures and practices for efficiencies and cost savings for both parties.

There are eight ongoing task forces within the Service Provider Committee. They are:

  • Rapid Repair Assessment.
  • Repair Order Approval and Authorization.
  • Optimizing Technician Productivity.
  • Recommend Standard Repair Times.
  • Quality Control.
  • Warranty Handling.
  • Conflict Resolution.
  • Customer Satisfaction.

RECOMMEND PRACTICES

Two of the Service Provider Committee task forces have authored RPs that will be submitted for ballot and approval by TMC at its Fall Meeting, says Calhoun, who became chairman of the committee at TMC’s Summer Meeting this past February, after having served as first vice chairman.

The TMC Fall Meeting is set for September 19 to 22 in Raleigh, NC, at the Raleigh Convention Center. The theme is: Maintenance Solutions You Can Count On.

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