Do you dream of handling preventive maintenance for fleets?
If you’ve looked at either resource, you know that a lot of our advice hinged on researching potential customers. Some of you immediately seized on that: This all sounds cool, but how can I research an entire fleet? Where do I begin?
We’re here for you, bud. Your lesson in research begins right now.
WHY DO I NEED TO RESEARCH FLEETS, ANYWAY?
You wouldn’t apply for a job without learning something about the company, right?
(Well, maybe you would, but it’s generally discouraged.)
Doing basic research about a potential job is just good common sense. Looking at the ins and outs of a potential customer’s fleet doesn’t just show them that you’re doing the background work on them; it’s also giving you the information you need to make a solid pitch (or, in rare cases, realize maybe this isn’t the job for you).
HOW DO I RESEARCH A FLEET?
There’s a couple ways you can go about drumming up the intel you need. You can try a service like FleetSeek, which lets you search for fleets in your area or across the country (and even in Canada). You do have to purchase a membership to do this, but it lets you zero in on the type of work you’re looking for, and it can be well worth the time and money.
If you’re not sure you want to commit to a service yet, and just want to get an idea of what’s out there, there are free services you can use. They’ll give you much of the same information, though it can take more time to build a profile. We’re going to walk you through one of them today.
Step 1: Head to SAFER.gov. This is the U.S. government’s Safety and Fitness Electronic Records* depot, and it’s basically a stockpile of free information about trucking companies and their fleets.
Step 2: Scroll down to “Company Snapshot” and click it.
Step 3: Search by name or USDOT Number for the fleet you’re interested in.
Step 4: Review their statistics.
SAFER.gov is your ticket to understanding how a fleet is operating and what they might need from you. The information it’ll tell you about a fleet includes:
- Number of trucks put out of service (OOS)
- Percentage of trucks out of service
- The national average of OOS trucks
- Crashes, including injuries, fatalities, and tows
If the fleet operates in Canada, you’ll get similar statistics from that far-off land.
But wait! There’s more.
Step 5: Scroll back to the upper right side of the page and click “SMS Results.”
Step 6: You’ll land on the FMCSA’s Safety Measurement System, which provides you with even more information about the fleet in question. You can see their safety and OOS rating, licensing and insurance information, and the size of their fleet and how many drivers they have.
Step 7: Start putting together information!
HOW DO I BUILD A PITCH?
The ratings you’ll see on the above websites give you a pretty awesome place to build your pitch. You can see exactly how many trucks they have on the road, how many of those have had problems, and where those problems have primarily occurred.
Pitch Idea 1: Lower the OOS Rate
Let’s say the fleet you’re looking at has 25% of their fleet marked as OOS against a national average of 20%.
The pitch: Hey, Fleet Friend, you’ve got 25% of your vehicles OOS. Let me handle your inspections and your maintenance, and I guarantee we’ll get your average down to 20% or 15% within six months.
You’ve already got several advantages. The customer knows they’re not doing so hot in terms of inspections. After you pitch them, though, you’ve essentially offered them a solution to their problem and a timeframe you’ll accomplish it in. You’re providing a pitch as well as the foundation to hold each other accountable.
Pitch 2: Reduce Operating Costs by X%
Want to get more granular? Head to the SMS page and review the detailed breakdown. Take a look at where these fleets are having the most trouble. Is it their brakes? Lights? Are they having terrible luck with tires? Start building an estimate. Ballpark how much this fleet is probably spending on new tires or brake repair, along with how much they’re probably losing with their OOS vehicles. Build your pitch around actual dollar signs. People love dollar signs.
The pitch: Hey, Fleet Friend, I know your fleet has X issues [describe them here]. I’ve created a comprehensive program that will reduce your operating costs by X%…would you like to know more?
Here’s another tip: a customer of ours shared that he occasionally runs the VIN numbers from these sites to see if any trucks have been recalled. When you show up to a pitch meeting with that kind of intelligence on your hands, well, friend, minds will be blown.
GO FORTH AND RESEARCH!
Pitching takes practice. If at first you don’t succeed, don’t sell your shop and flee the country; just take what you learned and apply it to the next pitch. There’s a tech shortage, mate! Your services are in demand, even if you’re still fine-tuning how to market them.
And hey, once you secure that PM work, what better way to track it than with Fullbay? We take the guesswork and spreadsheets out of figuring out when a truck is due for maintenance and help you run a streamlined, more efficient shop. Give our free demo a try here—and become the shop fleets dream about!
*So, do you guys think they came up with the name or acronym first?