Whatever the size and nature of your fleet, vehicle downtime costs money – sales opportunities may be missed, deliveries made late and schedules put into disarray.
But vehicles have to be maintained and even a basic service – such as checking the oil, tyres, fluid levels, lights – takes time out of a business driver’s day.
By using maintenance software, some fleet managers will be able to track the service history of their vehicles and arrange services well in advance.
Other operators, however, may not be as organised and will have to make a speedy booking for an overdue service.
Though franchise prices have started to fall, drivers often have to wait a number of weeks for a service when booking in with a dealer.
Fleet News looked at three different service providers who claim to deliver swift, convenient servicing and competitive prices (all of whom are able to validate warranties by carrying out services to manufacturer’s
KWIK-FIT WHILE U WAIT
Last month, fast-fit supplier Kwik-Fit launched While U Wait servicing, enabling fleet customers to book online with two days’ notice.
Pricing is dependant on hourly rates and additional parts.
Mike Wise, head of Kwik-Fit Fleet, explains that While U Wait servicing helps fleet managers and drivers reduce downtime by allowing them to book vehicles into one of the company’s 300 servicing centres at short notice.
“Time is money and for that reason fleets want a fast and efficient service that is convenient for their company car and van drivers,” Mr Wise says.
“Most drivers will leave it until the 11th hour to get a service – they’ll wait until a light comes on. If you try and book into a franchised dealer they may tell you that you have to wait two weeks.”
Mr Wise explained that Kwik-Fit’s decision to provide servicing at 48 hours’ notice was in response to the fleet industry’s need for quick vehicle turnaround, as well as being a natural progression of the company’s fast-fit roots.
“We’re very competitive compared to dealers and have the infrastructure there already – it works very well and suits fleets,” he adds.
IN ‘N’ OUT
In ‘n’ Out is a Northampton-based chain of servicers who offer fixed prices and a fast turnaround time.
With a team of mechanics working on every vehicle, a service takes just 15 minutes to complete.
“As the name would suggest,” says Simon Gaunt, direct sales manager at In ‘n’ Out, “when it comes to servicing we’re quick.
“When you drive in, four technicians work on the vehicle while you wait – you don’t lose your vehicles for half a day or a whole day.”
The quick turnaround means that drivers are not off the road for long, reducing downtime.
While they wait, customers can relax in waiting rooms, which are ideal for getting on with work or planning the next journey, explains Mr Gaunt.
“We provide a user-friendly environment, with waiting rooms, coffee and wi-fi,” he says.
Prices are competitively fixed, with every vehicle, be it a van or an executive saloon, charged at the same price.
A service costs £99 and business users enjoy a 10% discount.
“With a dealer you might be looking at up to £200 – not including VAT – for a service,” says Mr Gaunt.
In ‘n’ Out has proved popular with local businesses, including daily rental companies.
Though currently there are only two depots in the country (the company has its sights set on rapid expansion in 2008) the real benefit of In ‘n’ Out is that it offers not just a rapid service but a drive-through one, with no need to book in advance.
“If your driver is in the area he can just turn up and get the vehicle serviced,” adds Mr Gaunt.
Fleet managers with a small number of vehicles may want to look for a more personal maintenance arrangement.
A quick flick through the Yellow Pages will usually point you in the direction of a mobile mechanic, able to service fleets on site by appointment, with customers paying an hourly rate and able to book with a few days’ notice.
One such mechanic in the Peterborough area is Trevor Verity, who regularly carries out services for a local driving school and a
50-strong business car fleet.
Though not an instantaneous service like In ‘n’ Out, mobile mechanics like Mr Verity keep downtime to a minimum by carrying out maintenance work wherever it is convenient to do so.
“The driving school cars that I service can be done during a lull in the instructor’s day and this means that they don’t lose the car to a garage for a day, cutting their downtime significantly,” says Mr Verity.
“There’s also no need for a recovery service – if your car has broken down near home or work, I’ll just come out to you.”
Mr Verity explains that mobile mechanics can also offer smaller fleets a more personalised experience.
“I’ve been doing a company’s fleet cars for the past 12 years.
"We have a good relationship, I know everyone – I might as well be working there full time! I offer a personal service, which a garage might not,” he says.