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Solving the Scheduled Maintenance Problem

Are your drivers too busy for PM? Photo: Shutterstock

Improving PM compliance can take tough talk.

Thanks to technology and communications, getting fleet drivers to comply with preventive maintenance has slowly but steadily improved over the years.

But there’s still room for improvement. “I always start by asking about driver policy,” says Christopher Foster, Manager, Fleet Management Services, ARI. “The fleets that do it the best have specific instructions within their driver policy manual. They make it very clear to the drivers that there’s a requirement to adhere to preventive maintenance schedules. In some cases, drivers are incentivized to complete PMs in a timely manner or penalized if they fail to properly maintain their vehicle. ”

ARI also provides fleet managers and corporate fleet operators with more information about the value of doing preventive maintenance. “We identify the importance of adhering to consistent PM schedules, often measured in terms of PM variability, and its impact on overall operating costs,” says Foster. “Arbitrarily extending PM intervals or skipping services may reduce maintenance costs today, but undoubtedly, your operating expenses will increase over time and these escalating costs far exceed the perceived savings.”

Driver app

The company’s driver app provides drivers information on where they can take their vehicle for service when it’s due. “We’re trying to make it easier for the drivers, and we’re also working with our vendors to minimize downtime and get drivers back on the road as quickly as possible,” says Foster.

Compliance can vary between sales and service fleets, according to David Thornton, VP Sales and Client Services, Foss National Leasing. “With sales, it’s more of a personal tool, whereas with the service driver, it’s completely business.”

He recommends running an FMC fuel maintenance card program, which regularly tracks what work is being done. “It also has PM reminder systems, where we can send out alerts and emails to the drivers,” says Thornton. “On the mobile app, when they go to log in, especially on the drivers who have to report their mileage every month, they’ll get an alert telling them they’re overdue for preventive maintenance.”

A policy should stress that preventive maintenance is required, and if it is not done, it gets escalated to management. “Some drivers will ignore it because the FMC is not their employer,” says Thornton. “At some point, we may need management involvement, so they start seeing it internally.”

Reward system

He also sees improvements with compliance when customers offer rewards on the accident side. “There’s no reason you can’t do that on the PM side,” says Thornton. “If you get all your PMs done consistently, that could lead to either a monetary reward or recognition as a driver who’s following policy. You don’t want to be on the naughty list.”

As an example, Thornton offers a customer who does a report every Sunday morning that shows the best ranked drivers to the worst ranked drivers. “You see some drivers move, they’re embarrassed to be on the bottom, and they do what they can to get to the top,” he says. “There’s no reward, it’s just a game. But they want to do better than their peers.”

There can also be punitive measures, but Thornton recommends starting with a reward system. “At the end of the day, the driver is working and the argument can easily be accepted that they’re busy selling or servicing so they ran out of time. You don’t want to say, the oil change is more important than servicing our customer. That’s not the point.”

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