The pros and cons of outsourcing fleet maintenance

Graham Wood 10/25/2019 Vehicle Management

As a fleet manager and/or business owner of a small to medium-sized enterprise, there are many reasons why you may prefer outsourcing fleet maintenance.

First of all, in order to save in-house operating expenses and to improve efficiency, and secondly because it’s simply much more convenient. Or is it? What about wasting money on trivial malfunctions that perhaps could have been resolved by an in-house auto repair shop?

Clearly, there are pros and cons to following either model. In the end, you know your business best. Much will depend on the size of your fleet, the type of vehicles you have, and their frequency of use.

But, to try and help you out of this dilemma, we’ve tried to list all the main advantages and disadvantages, so you can balance things up for yourself.

Outsourcing fleet maintenance: factors that affect your choice

Before you entertain the idea of making a decision about outsourcing fleet maintenance, or keeping it in-house, let’s have a look at the factors that you need to take into account.

A few prerequisites, along with the pros and cons

If you keep things in house, you need to work out the costs and practical side of what kind of equipment you need to buy, as well as the personnel you need to hire. Will you bring in a specialist mechanic, or can you leverage your drivers for the level of maintenance that you have in mind? In addition to this, there’s also risk and frustration, since some of your problems may be easily and smoothly solved when you have in-house maintenance. And, of course, the opposite could be the case when there are more serious issues. Here are some things that may or may not sound familiar to you, which you need to consider.

1. Long distance routes

If your fleet of vehicles travels long distances or not, it may be convenient at least for your long-haul vehicles (if that is your company’s case) not to make such a decision. The reason? Well, it might not be a wise choice to invest money and effort on setting up a process that will be rarely used. Because, if most of your vehicles are far away, chances are that problems will occur far away from your local, well-prepared, in-house repair workstation.

2. Insurance terms

Your vehicles’ insurance terms might also affect your decision. Probably, it won’t be a wise choice to intervene in what will usually be complicated maintenance tasks; and end up breaking things. The engine for example! Good intentions are not enough, you might go for a cost-effective choice, one that could end up costing you an absolute fortune.

3. In-house support

An in-house auto-repair house may save you time in terms of trivial repair issues, but if there’s a specialized need you’ll have to move your vehicle. That will cause additional delays. You can avoid such scenarios by limiting repair tasks to only the trivial basics.

4. Budget

Your budget will also affect your planning. i.e to what extent you will apply an in-house or outsourcing fleet maintenance solution.

5. Available free space

If there is available free space to implement an in-house solution.

6. Trained staff

You may also choose to outsource part of your fleet maintenance operations, for example. Having trivial checkup tasks, such as oil changes etc. is cost-effective in-house, as well as time-saving. You can also encourage some of your drivers to handle these tasks. That is, if they have plenty of previous experience, not necessarily as professionals. However, you will need to take care of this. You’ll have to at least provide short-term training and put official processes in place. While some of them might be eager or even happy to have additional responsibilities, others may not. You’ll need to make sure that those drivers doing “maintenance” are supervised, to ensure safety and avoid mishaps or malicious actions; such as charging you for additional spare parts that may not be needed. Trust is the key factor here.

7. Fleet size

Size of your fleet: for a small fleet, it might not be cost-effective to implement an in-house solution, if that requires additional equipment and staff. You will need to weigh up all these things, to decide what solution is best for you.

It’s over to you…

In the outsourcing fleet maintenance game, like many other areas of the business, everything largely depends on a number of factors. Such as business size, fleet size, and what spaces and budget are available. For small and medium-sized businesses, the truth will lie somewhere in the middle, in terms of what solution is best.

Use the above to weigh up the right solution for your needs, and adjust accordingly.

Have we missed something? Perhaps there’s more than meets the eye in what we've covered in this post. We’d love to know the way you handle your fleet maintenance. Feel free to contact us or comment below, to provide your pearls of fleet management wisdom.