Fleet managers are well aware of what Brian Mulshine, director of operations, technology and innovation at Rush Enterprises, calls the three deadly sins committed by outside service providers: repairs take too long, cost too much and there is not enough communication during the repair process.

Mulshine along with Mike Delaney, president and CEO of WheelTime and Lori Coleman, fleet manager at Gordon Foods, shared their thoughts on the current state of truck service during a panel discussion moderated by Gary Cummings, president and CEO of FleetNet America at the recent Heavy Duty Aftermarket Dialogue in Las Vegas.

Coleman says that 85% of her maintenance and repair work is handled in house, and that when trucks are in the shop she challenges her technicians to find problems so they can be fixed. As a result Gordon Food has a CSA score of 24 in the maintenance BASIC. She told the audience her frustration with outside service providers stems from the fact that when trucks comes back from an outside shop her technicians go over the truck and 60-70% of the time find something wrong.

Delaney says outsourcing “ will only happen if we can do things the way customers want them done.”

And Coleman admits that maintenance and repair is not her company’s core competency, but if she can’t get the type of service she needs she’ll keep doing work in house.

Mulshine says Rush is addressing those concerns and has recently made a quarter million dollar investment in technician training. Each of the dealerships 3,000 technicians receives 60 hours of training a year.

Delaney says each fleet has different ways it wants work performed and “the trick is to capture the process for each customer in order to reduce days out of service.”

He adds that if service providers focus on days out of service, they will have to get into on-site service at the fleets’ locations. While some shops are doing a good job of creating “a different service environment,” there are still shops with green screen computer technology.

Mulshine says for a service event to be successful “the biggest thing is to get enough information from the customer to get the job done.” He says that some carriers just drop the truck off at the dealership with little information on what’s wrong.

On the other hand, Coleman says before she sends a truck to an outside shop her technicians triage it and give specific instructions on what needs to be done.

Delaney says better repair experiences depends on “systems and processes with predefined operations. However, the human element is critical.”

Also critical, according to Delaney, is having parts available. “The challenge is in predicting [what is going to be needed] so we can have parts on hand. Much of the problem is that we are reacting so we cannot source [the proper parts].”

Mulshine says prognostics is the newest development to help in improving service. “It means we can be ready when the truck rolls in. If we can get the heads up and expect it, we can be ready for it” Delaney adds. “This industry is far too reactive and [prognostics] is the only technology that will address that problem, but it needs to be OE agnostic.”