Equipment, parts and service. Those are the three fundamentals of driving uptime. The first, equipment, begins during the vehicle spec and purchase phase. Having the vehicle manufacturers and their suppliers provide top-quality, always-improving, equipment to initially fill your fleet. The second two, parts and service, can be more difficult for a fleet to obtain.
Access to parts is certainly more prevalent when using an aftermarket distributor or parts house. The independent aftermarket serves fleet customers with more brands of replacements and at a faster delivery interval than a dealership. These same independent parts providers want to bring that level of access to their fleet customers when it comes to service, as well.
Providing your fleets with expanded access to service bays is the largest growth trend for independent heavy-duty distributors. The aftermarket is working to increase bay access through green fields, building totally new locations or acquiring an existing structure or business.
In whatever manner they expand into service, these are rarely standalone locations. The independents are focusing on creating larger, national footprint service networks. The networks work together as independent businesses with different owners, but leverage inventories and available bay locations to serve fleets with speed and choice.
The method is modeled after the strategic relationships developed by HDA Truck Pride and VIPAR with the traditionally light-duty parts groups that were created years ago. Each heavy-duty parts group partnered with a light-duty network to leverage parts availability, customer relationships and software systems to generate national connectivity.
The heavy-duty distributors and retailers are folding that into the service model to create essentially a new supply chain of heavy vehicle fleet service.
The marriage of parts and service by the independent aftermarket speeds up access to bays, while creating more reliable parts availability and more choice for fleets and owner-operators. Speed, reliability and choice combined equal increased uptime and lower costs for your outfits.
This growth trend of independent distributors getting into providing service and maintenance is already paying off dividends for fleets. One distributor that got into this model just over three years ago is reporting that, within their North Carolina market, they can decrease a truck’s time to complete a large-scale repair down from two weeks at a dealership, to just over three days at their independent location.
That’s real time and real money for your fleet.
Sheila Andrews is the director of heavy-duty programs for the Auto Care Association.