A definition of bad timing could be waiting until a breakdown occurs to start searching for a roadside service provider, says Byron Lay, maintenance director for AmeriQuest Transportation Services (www.ameriquestcorp.com), a leading provider of comprehensive fleet management services. He advises maintenance and fleet managers to ask five key questions before they've had a breakdown, not after:
1. What is the coverage area?
"The farther your fleet travels, the more you need a provider that has coast-to-coast service locations," Lay says. "Ask for a list of those locations."
2. What are the hours of coverage?
Anything less any time, any day is unacceptable. In addition, make sure the staff answering the calls is well-qualified to service your needs.
3. What services are offered?
"Each fleet has its own unique needs and those should be addressed, but the services that should always be provided are truck roadside assistance, truck breakdown service and maintenance, truck and trailer towing and trailer service and repair," he says.
4. What are the charges?
Lay notes that it's the hidden charges that can hurt, so look for a company that has no hidden fees, such as enrollment, annual, monthly or any other one-time fees, including miscellaneous vendor fees. "Instead, look for a company that charges by the event on a pay-as-you-go basis."
5. How can you control cost and exposure with the program?
The bigger the provider, the more leverage it has to command advantageous pricing when it comes to tires, parts and labor. Some companies have special deals with major manufacturers. Ask who they deal with and how their pricing compares with their competitors.
Breakdowns are inevitable, Lay concludes, but the right service provider can make a bad situation manageable.