One recurring problem in fleet service event management is ensuring the accuracy of the estimated time of repair (ETR). Inaccurate ETRs wreck planning cycles for operations, dispatch and drivers (who are now subjected to more stringent Hours-of-Service rules), and they increase costs associated with downtime. They also damage the trust needed for effective working relationships, both between your fleet and service providers as well as within your operation.

Problems that arise from inaccurate ETRs aren’t usually about the repair itself. Most fleets start the service event process by getting standard repair times (SRTs) from a guide, so they have a fairly accurate idea of how long a given repair will take. That knowledge is essential for budgetary and shop planning, whether you’re assigning the work to a technician in your own shop or outsourcing the work to a dealer or independent shop.  In many cases, fleets have their own SRTs, while others (including outside shops) use applications such as MOTOR.

Beyond the SRT

Adding up the SRTs rarely is equal to a probable finish or promise time, as factors such as operating business hours, bay and technician availability, as well as parts inventory will ultimately drive the target completion time. Plus, an ETR won’t be accurate unless it’s updated (along with the estimate/quote) after the service event begins to reflect any additions to the scope of work.

For example, the technician may discover a different or larger problem after a repair is started, or the fleet manager may decide to add a campaign or pending preventive maintenance item while the truck is in the shop. If these additions aren’t communicated to the appropriate parties, costs such as paying for an unnecessary rental may get added to the tab.

The real culprit behind inaccurate ETRs often is a lack of collaboration among the various parties involved. This can lead to unnecessary delays during the service event: estimates might go unapproved or, if dispatch doesn’t know the work is finished, the asset might remain out of service longer than necessary. These delays may cause other problems, such as driver frustration, which can snowball into bigger issues like interdepartmental conflict and angry customers. 

Shedding Light on the Service Event

A Service Relationship Management (SRM) platform can help to enhancethe accuracy of and visibility into ETRs as well as any changes in scope that are required. All parties have real-time access to relevant information in this cloud-based system, eliminating delays in updating all of the issues that will be addressed during a service event.

An SRM platform can also streamline management processes based on established standards and parameters. If an estimate exceeds a pre-set spending amount and requires approval, for example, the information can be routed to the proper manager’s email to reduce the delay in getting that approval. Or the fleet manager can specify settings so that, for instance, additional work requiring review and sign-off is handled quickly and effectively by the appropriate person.

Communication and collaboration are key to limiting downtime. It’s not just about what’s happening; it’s also about making sure that everyone knows what’s happening.

Fleet Managers, Join the Conversation

What’s your biggest problem when it comes to obtaining accurate repair time estimates? What communication blockages do you encounter, and how do you deal with them? Please share your thoughts by posting a comment below.

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