Since 1998 MacKay & Company have generated quadrennial reports of the Truck and Trailer Service labor market associated with nearly 600 components. The latest of these service studies was released in early 2016. What are some common trends in truck service requirements among fleet operators and their relationship to current service practices among providers?
Among all respondents to the Truck and Trailer Service Study in 2015, reported overall average acceptable wait time to begin major repair of a down vehicle was 34 hours. Responses from for-hire, refuse, lease/rental and private fleets comprised a bit more than half the total who thought an acceptable wait time to be just 20 hours to the beginning of service. Furthermore, vehicle downtime was identified by more than one-third of service study respondents as their number one concern when turning to outside providers of truck service, outranking both cost and quality of procured service in importance.
In order for the repair to commence, the part has to be on hand. In the current world of internet ordering in which we live, for a fee, your order can arrive in two days – sometimes even earlier. The remarkable part of this is, it doesn’t matter what you order — could be Qtips, could be brake pads… two days at your doorstep. This is not a new concept for those in the business of repairing vehicles. All manufacturers of U.S. truck brands have established dealer parts supply systems that facilitate delivery of ordered service parts to dealers no later than the morning after order placement. Independents also have well-known channels for timely parts delivery, making the part available in a few days or less. People in our industry call this good customer service and have been delivering it for decades.
Service study responses identified truck operator shops as the providers of 68% of all non-warranty vehicle service operations with routine service procedures accounting for larger than average portions and engine repairs and overhauls going to professional rather than fleet shops. Regardless of service labor sourcing decisions by fleet operators, the truck dealer and heavy duty distributor networks constitute the most often turned to retail suppliers of service parts for medium and heavy duty trucks and buses in the United States. These parts suppliers are aware of the absolute necessity of timely vehicle service parts availability in maintaining customer satisfaction with their parts and service suppliers. As long as shop service bays and mechanics are available to perform required repair operations, the required parts should be available for installation, so total vehicle downtime after a breakdown is minimized.
Although technology is providing more ways to anticipate and avoid breakdowns, they still happen. But strategies are being implemented within the parts and service industry to significantly mitigate their detrimental effects upon the service satisfaction of the customers, thus limiting the impact of these failures on the profitability of vehicle operators. It will certainly be exciting to witness further fleet operating profit improvements that will result as utilization of vehicle telematics systems creates the “smart trucks” of the future. How long will it be before the part is simply digitally created at the parts counter and is awaiting the arrival of the truck?
Truck Parts & Service November, 2016 Article by John Moery