December 2012

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Page 29 of 75

Business Considerations of Field Service Trucks Service ROI Don't Spec Till Like you would do with any well-planned investment, identify your business objectives first, then choose the size and features that match your plan and service environments. BY BRUCE BUNTING What is your personal view point of field service? Do you see it a necessary evil or as a strategic asset that projects your dealership's brand image? The field service department should be providing a vital revenue stream to the bottom line of a modern heavy equipment dealership. In today's heavy equipment operating environment, customers demand an ever-increasing level of machine uptime, and because of this it is vital that a dealer's field service department be able to respond quickly. In order to meet these demands head on, an effective and efficient field service fleet is required. The Dynamics of Change Keeping your field service trucks efficient and profitable is a moving target. Reviewing and monitoring the specifications of these trucks has to be an ongoing process – just like a successful investor has to continually review and track his or her investments within a portfolio in order to achieve a set of financial goals. Today, most dealers are being required by their customers to provide products and services that were unheard of less than a decade ago. Some dealers are already ahead of the curve by either taking on additional product lines or acquiring a "bolt on" company that potentially has customers in common within the existing dealership. In either case, this should create new field service revenue-generating opportunities, but it can also provide a way to extend the useful life of existing late model field service trucks that are in your fleet. In addition to changing business models, we as an industry, are faced with end-user consolidation, which has 28 | www.cedmag.com | Construction Equipment Distribution | December 2012 seemingly overnight increased the territory coverage size the dealers have to cover. What is your strategy to turn this challenge into a profitable opportunity? The caretakers that have spec'd and purchased your field service trucks for the past 25 to 30 years are retiring at a very high rate and leaving in their departing wake a knowledge and experience vacuum. This is happening across the country every day, and if you are not currently dealing with it you will be. Even in the recent past, replacing this position was fairly simple – everyone just rotated a senior field mechanic into this position and they brought with them the vast years of field experience and insight as to what and how a field service truck should be spec'd and operated. This process is no longer working due to the increasing shortage of qualified field service mechanics. As a result, there are very intelligent young men and women being recruited into these positions with strong academic skills and a higher level of comfort with technology than their predecessors. However, what they typically don't possess is the application knowledge of what field service trucks do and what size truck is suited for which task. More and more I am encountering situations where I am doing a lot of explaining about how or why a specific size air compressor or crane is required for some applications. I believe that is my job to know my customers' field service needs inside and out, so that I can provide an accurate and updated specification. No Such Thing as 'One Size Fits All' One the most frequent questions that I have been asked over

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