How to Evaluate a Forklift Service Provider
Are you satisfied with your current forklift and material handling service provider? If not, perhaps it’s time to explore your options and consider making a change for the better. If you are considering a change, your first instinct will probably be to conduct a thorough online search for local service providers. Unfortunately, the proliferation of online advertising and misleading websites make it more, not less, difficult to appropriately evaluate your potential alternatives.
A simple online review of local forklift service providers, for example, would lead you to believe that each and every company offers high quality forklift service performed by industry experts with countless years of quality experience within the industry.
Since all online properties tend to say more-or-less the same thing, an accurate assessment of your alternatives should begin with a visit to their facilities. Unlike the smoke-and-mirrors you’re likely to encounter during an online “visit”, an in-person visit to their facilities makes it far more difficult for a potential service provider to mislead you or obscure the truth. While you’re at their location, you’ll be able to conduct a first-hand evaluation of the service provider’s infrastructure, knowledge, competency and capabilities, which will allow you to make an accurate and informed decision moving forward.
So, given the importance of such a visit and the implications moving forward, we’ve provided a list of observations and questions to ask when sourcing potential service providers:
What are their service capabilities? For example, how many mechanics do they have on staff? Do they have the tools and equipment needed to service your equipment? Do they have experience with your brand of equipment?
Do they offer on-site service? How many (if any) mobile service trucks do they have on hand? Are the mobile service trucks full stocked with parts and equipment?
Do they offer planned maintenance agreements? If so, what are the terms and associated costs?
Do they have an extensive service offering? Does it include services such as exhaust gas analysis (emissions testing), mobile tire repair, and equipment reconditioning?
If repairs need to be made at their facility, how will they transport your equipment? If your equipment needs to be taken off-site, how will this effect down-time? Do they offer special rentals rate to accommodate your needs while your equipment is being repaired?
Do they have a formal computer system and database to track the service history of each piece of your equipment?
Do they maintain detailed service records for each piece of equipment? Will their mechanics have the necessary information to prepare for repairs before the units reach their facility?
Do they track your LOLER / safety certification requirements?
Are their mechanics and service technicians kept up-to-date on safety and government regulations?
Do they have an extensive on-site parts inventory?
What is the value of their parts inventory?
Is their parts inventory well organized?
Is their parts inventory up-to-date and regularly restocked?
Can they provide you with fleet cost analysis?
Do they offer forklift training?
Do they track your operator training requirements?
How long have they been in business?
Are their current customers satisfied with their service? Do they have any case studies and testimonials to illustrate?
How do they support their local community?
To be clear, you may not need many of the aforementioned qualifications and it’s unlikely that potential service providers will offer all of them in turn, but, through the process of enquiry, you’ll have a clear idea of whether they can efficiently address your unique needs and requirements.
At this point in your evaluation, it is also important to keep the costs of inefficiency and potential deficiencies in mind and weigh these against the rates charged by a service provider. To avoid frequent breakdowns, excessive downtime and escalating service costs, high quality service providers need to charge a greater hourly rate. But, by paying a high hourly rate, you’ll likely reduce your overall service costs by reducing incidences of downtime and repeat repairs, improving efficiency and productivity in the long haul.
Armed with this list of questions, you should feel confident in your ability to evaluate potential forklift service providers and make an informed decision moving forward.