Suitable Vehicle Servicing

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Determining the right service facility depends on a range of factors. Photo Huw Evans

The best solution for your fleet’s maintenance needs could be a local garage, a dealer, or your own in-house staff.

When it comes to maintaining and fixing vehicles, fleet managers have three choices: a dealership, an aftermarket garage or their own in-house facilities. Each comes with pros and cons, and there’s no right answer because no two fleets are alike.

“While each fleet certainly operates differently and has its own unique nuances, today, many fleet operators utilize some combination of in-house resources, dealership facilities, and third party or national account vendors to service their vehicles,” explains Dave Broadwater, Manager, Fleet Management Services, Holman.

“For the most part, if a fleet operates an in-house garage, it is often the most efficient and cost-effective method for servicing their vehicles, particularly for those highly-specialized vehicles and equipment,” Broadwater adds. “Dealership facilities are typically the preferred option for any sort of warranty services or recall repairs. At times, it may also be necessary to utilize a dealership facility if a vehicle has a complex issue that requires specialized training, equipment, or other resources.”

Third parties or national account vendors, Broadwater adds, “are often the best option for routine maintenance such as oil changes, tire rotations, brake services, etc.”

Your unique requirements

Manpreet Rana, Director of Product & Maintenance, Element Fleet Management explains how fleet professionals should decide which service option is best for them. “A fleet manager’s decision should primarily be guided by the unique requirements of their fleet, factoring in elements like vehicle make, age, warranty status, geographic location, and the nature of the service needed,” Rana explains.

Vehicles that are still under warranty or that need specialized care, Rana adds, would be best served by a dealership. “Meanwhile, aftermarket garages could be a good fit for routine services and for servicing a wider range of vehicle brands. In-house garages could be ideal when specialized equipment is involved or when a large concentration of the fleet is in a single geographic area.”

In the end, Rana says, “Every option—dealer, aftermarket garage, or in-house service—brings its unique strengths to the table. Each choice comes with pros and cons, Rana adds, and the choice depends on the specific needs of the fleet.

Before partnering with any service provider, Brij Sharma, President & CEO of BDS Fleet Service strongly recommends that fleet managers do their homework to make sure there’s a good fit.

“It’s all about a quicker response and getting your vehicles back on the road as fast as possible,” he explains. “Our goal at BDS is to eliminate all the pain points for fleet customers and get your vehicles back to business in the shortest time possible.”

If skipping the line and getting priority service is the goal, Element’s Rana recommends a strong partnership with a single service provider, rather than cherry-picking to find the best prices.

“While shopping around may offer cost advantages on individual repairs, it’s generally beneficial to build long-term relationships with a select few providers,” Rana explains.

Holman’s Broadwater agrees. “When fleet operators partner with a national account vendor, they often receive preferred scheduling,” he says. “Additionally, once you have established a strong relationship with a national account vendor, they’ll have greater visibility to your operating parameters, and work with you to proactively schedule services to further minimize downtime.”


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