Service (mis)management, area by area: Sound familiar?

Updated Mar 18, 2014
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A poorly managed vehicle service event can have costly consequences throughout an organization, so predictability should be the focus of any maintenance plan, explains Michael Riemer, vice president of products and channel marketing for Decisiv.

“From dispatch to accounting and from your boss and your team to your external vendors, no one is immune from the problems caused by your service process challenges,” Riemer says.

And he offers fleet service managers a quick look at how poor service and repair process ruin everyone’s day – along with some simple solutions.

Dispatch and operations: If dispatch and operations have limited visibility into when an asset is going to be available, they’re going to constantly be on the phone asking when the repair will be completed and when the vehicle is ready to be picked up. While this is going on, you’re on the phone with the service provider trying to get the information dispatch is requesting. If you can’t get reliable info to dispatch, they aren’t going to put the asset back on the schedule. If dispatch continually gets bad info on asset availability following a repair, they’ll be leery about scheduling it and will take other measures to make sure delivery requirements are met. This could include renting extra trucks as safety stock or hiring third-party contractors to fill the hole in the schedule.

Accounting: Without a standardized service and repair process, the accounting department won’t be able to tell whether work listed on an invoice has been approved or not. If the invoice total doesn’t match the the estimate, someone from accounting has to backtrack to determine which repairs were approved and who approved them. All this takes time and can be very frustrating. Then someone needs to go back to the service provider and try to negotiate a “deal” after the fact, “which is not fun for any of the parties involved,” Riemer notes.

Administrative staff: In many organizations, these poor folks are tasked with translating scribbled notes from slips of paper and yellow sticky notes into coherent case records. This is very time-consuming and can result in errors and reporting delays. The less automated and less consistent the process, the more staff is required – entering paper inspections, entering invoice data including VMRS-coded operations, and sifting through paper to find potential warranty and comeback issues.

The service team: Team members get frustrated because instead of doing their jobs and managing events on an exception basis, they’re spending time chasing the other issues.

Service providers: Poor communication during the repair process leads to lack of trust with the service provider: the “he said, she said” issues over approvals and authorization – and the inevitable mismatched invoices and estimates.

“Your day is long and stressful and not having a proper service and repair process just makes everyone more stressed and can contribute to poor job satisfaction across all levels of the organization,” Riemer says.

By the numbers, Decisiv has calculated that 80 percent of service and repair downtime is unrelated to turning a wrench.

The solution is to standardize, communicate and automate, which will streamline service events at each step along the way.

Among the available technologies, Riemer cites Decisiv’s Service Relationship Management platform.

“With Decisiv’s SRM solution, the service and repair process becomes more predictable, stress decreases and everyone benefits because instead of running around with their hair on fire, they have the opportunity to manage by exception and fight the real fires that come up,” he says.

But, even as technology has become a critical component of fleet operations, many companies have been slow to integrate data-driven efficiency into the service and repair process – and such companies are not only losing time and money directly on mismanaged maintenance events, the inability to precisely track maintenance costs and their true impact is a competitive disadvantage.

“Whether you’re looking at asset utilization, rental costs, invoice-estimate mismatches, the administrative overhead of manual data entry, chronic repair comebacks and warranty dollar recapture or other impacts associated with this lack of integration, it all boils down to being able to manage, monitor and report on the data that drives your business operations,” Riemer says.