Service, maintenance and repair (SMR) issues mean that fleets are facing excessive vehicle off-road (VOR) time, the Association of Fleet Professionals (AFP) is reporting.

Paul Hollick, chair, said AFP members buying SMR were regularly reporting a range of problems. Some of these, such as parts supply, were felt to be outside the control of suppliers – but others, including levels of communication, were more disappointing.

“Garages and workshops – from small independents to franchise dealers and repairer networks to fast-fits – are facing similar problems to almost every other part of the motor industry. Getting hold of many parts is difficult while finding trained staff is challenging. These facts are having a direct impact on fleet VOR times and are not the fault of suppliers.

“However, other aspects of dealing with SMR at the moment are more frustrating. Simply getting the attention of suppliers to book in work and resolve any issues that are being encountered can be difficult, especially when it comes to manufacturer warranty work.

“A key annoyance is that if vehicles are booked in for a number of SMR jobs, they are often being handed back with just the easier ones resolved and excuses made for anything more complex, along with advice to make a new booking and no dates available in the near future. There is a feeling within the AFP that often a real intention to tackle bigger jobs is limited.”

Hollick said that the problem was especially acute because so many fleets had been forced by new vehicle supply issues into operating often significantly older cars and vans.

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“On older vehicles, it is almost unavoidable that more SMR is needed and often bigger jobs, too. This means that fleets are now very much reliant on garages and workshops on a day-to-day basis when it comes to minimising VOR. Being able to count on them doing what they say they will do is essentially an operational necessity.

“At the AFP, we recognise that, to an extent, SMR suppliers are often firefighting in the face of demand and are placed in a difficult situation when it comes to meeting fleet customer needs.

“However, more straightforward conversations and a more reliable approach would certainly be much appreciated by our members, we feel. What they find frustrating are situations when they are left without a vehicle that they were expecting to be repaired and have to scrabble around to find a replacement. It creates difficult situations.”

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