What influences your choice of vehicle supplier?
It's about Supplier-Customer relationships that influence your choice of brand and dealer
Few will argue that the choice of vehicle supplier is primarily influenced by Brand and supporting Dealer network. This critical supplier – customer relationship (SCR) is important, if not just as important as the Carrier - Shipper relationship, so let’s discuss the intricacies of the existing relationship between your Fleet Manager and local supporting Dealer.
Of course the value of this critical SCR can vary considerably, from excellent-to-impartial, which can have a profound effect on fleet availability, reliability and operating costs, all of which could create serious glitches in the company’s trading performance. So you need to think very carefully about how well SCR is being managed by your senior executives?
This is where strong support from your chosen brand and dealer will set you apart in the market
Managing this relationship becomes a multi-faceted challenge as it has far reaching effects on investment performance, which is often neglected. One such example is when repair work is required during a vehicle’s warranty period and the dealer calls for an order number, claiming it’s due to driver or Operator abuse. This is a tough one to settle amicably, which can also leave lasting effects on the relationship. Of course Operators also tend use the situation to avoid liability when, in fact, the dealer’s prognosis is correct, further harming the delicate situation. In other words, abuse from either side can hurt this vital partnership to the detriment of both parties.
Another very common Operator/Dealer conflict arises over parts availability and excessive price increases, especially when it results in loss of vehicle availability. This has become more prevalent since dealer parts inventories were reduced to a minimum and replenished from a central warehouse, leaving Operators to pick up the bill for costly Courier charges.
Moving on to vehicle service and repair; this is where most problems occur. First is communication. Careless communication costs both parties money! Understandably communication is somewhat difficult as matching supply and demand for these services is a challenge.
Look at it this way, the Carrier’s Operations division is responsible for optimising Shipper service delivery and revenue. This calls for accurate and timeous commitment from supporting parties, including fleet management and dealer service advisors. It all sounds simple but in practice is extremely difficult.
Another very common practice is leaving Operations to deal directly with dealer service advisors. What might be extremely important to Operations, like scheduling an urgent load when a service can’t be accommodated by the dealer and on such occasion means the vehicle will be scheduled to move a load, irrespective of the consequences which can end in disaster for the registered Owner or Board-appointed, Proxy.
Carriers who choose to use FMC mostly leave Service, Maintenance and Repair (SMR) scheduling to their Operations division as they dispense with their in-house service facility, thus exposing the company to the risk of vehicle breakdowns, interruption of delivery promises and rejected warranty claims, should recommended service intervals be exceeded.
Finally, when Operators decide to contract out fleet SMR they need to make this decision acknowledging they are calling on their Dealer to effectively provide fleet management services, and there is a hell of a lot more to maintaining fleet assets in a roadworthy and profitable condition than executive management often appreciates. There will be a lot more on this discussion later.