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Who Should Perform Your Compact Machine Maintenance: You or Your Dealer?
Evaluate Time, Expertise, Opportunity Costs To Make Best Decision
Future equipment owners and mechanics could be at an even greater disadvantage going forward. Sams points out that while young people are entering the work force with enhanced digital proficiencies, they often lack hands-on mechanical skills. “High school graduates are not as technical as they were 25 or 30 years ago,” says Sams, suggesting that companies will have more responsibility for technical training. On the other hand, with affiliate programs and community vocational programs, dealer technicians have dedicated learning resources to meet manufacturers’ technical requirements and increasing environmental standards.
Adds Fitzgerald, “You may have the time, facilities and skill set to do a certain type of maintenance, but not another. Analyze your company’s capabilities and ask yourself if you can manage the maintenance intervals adequately -- or does it require a trained specialist?”
One of the biggest advantages to utilizing dealership service is having trained technicians with access to the latest information resources and tools. “Dealership technicians know what to inspect. We understand the machines’ electronics and their iT4 and Tier 4 systems, and we can do calibrations and check diagnostics with tools and software not available to customers,” Sams says.
Equipment dealerships can provide a variety of planned maintenance contracts on purchased or leased machines. Some dealerships have hundreds of machines under contract with participation that ranges from performing warranty work, to providing monthly, quarterly, annual or even biennial services. Additionally, GPS devices can be installed to continuously monitor machine activity and location.
A growing option that more dealerships are implementing is mobile field service. Some dealerships stock service trucks with key parts and components to conduct on-site routine maintenance and repairs. Sams states, “We can replace high wear items like bucket cutting edges and teeth and carry along a couple of thousand part numbers on the trucks. In our area, we do more mobile service than shop work.”
Sams cautions those who only seek service from general automotive shops to offset higher dealership labor rates or parts costs. “There’s an idea that the guy down the street who works on their trucks can work on their compact equipment and charge $50 to $75 an hour for a service versus $90 to $125. Yes, their rates may be lower, but they may take two days to complete the service. They can’t do warranty work and often don’t have the service manuals or necessary tools,” he emphasized.