Maintenance: 1) to keep or keep up; 2) to keep in continuance or in a certain state of repair; 3) to support by providing what is needed.
The majority of people reading this article are entrepreneurs who run their own businesses. Hopefully, you know what it takes to run and preserve those ventures.
As storage operators, you take care to maintain your facilities. Your roofs don’t leak, driveways aren’t cracked, buildings look good, the grass is cut, all signage works, the office is clean, roll-up doors are operational, and the entry gate is fully functional. I’m also sure your management software, direct-deposit and credit card systems are all working up to par. You know these items are musts for you to remain competitive in your market.
But what about your rental trucks? Why is it we all seem to be a little less attentive when it comes to vehicle maintenance? Your trucks need to be maintained as carefully as any other part of your business. Why? For the sake of safety, longevity and positive customer relations.
You certainly don’t want to turn a positive interaction, like providing free use of a truck to new customers at move-in, into a negative by taking a chance the truck could break down while tenants use it. And since your trucks should have your facility advertising printed on the sides, they are a reflection of you and your business.
By adhering to a simple maintenance routine, you can ensure a positive experience for customers and keep vehicles running smoothly.
Nuts and Bolts
People inherently take better care of something nice than something that is trashed and in ill repair, so always keep your truck clean inside and out. It’s a small task, yet it pays huge dividends. In particular, pay attention to windows and mirrors.
Oil changes are the No. 1 preventive-maintenance procedure. I suggest changing the oil at least every 4,000 miles. Most manufacturer specifications allow for you to go much longer, but remember, the makers are in the business of selling as many vehicles as they can!
The other major concerns with rental trucks are brakes, suspension systems and tires. You should have the brakes checked every 10,000 miles and have the front end aligned at the same time. Check the tire pressure every time you have the oil and oil filter changed. Most wear and tear on tires is due to improper inflation.
Once a week, do a physical inspection of your truck for dents and dings. Also make sure the ramp is functional and the odometer and radio are working. Check the fluid levels. Check for cracked or chipped windows, mirrors and lights. Make sure the headlights and turn signals are functioning before each rental. A simple bulb could avoid an accident.
The Forest for the Trees
A few years go, friends of mine were expecting their first child, and they were so proud of the fact that they had thought of everything possible to make the baby’s existence free of potential problems and accidents. They installed an air-purifier in their home. They used plug protectors in all their electrical outlets. They bought a car seat seemingly designed by NASA. To ensure road safety, they even installed new tires on their vehicles.
Upon hearing about their preparedness, I said, “It’s just like scheduled maintenance on your car.” In unison, they responded, “Huh?” I then asked about the last time they had changed their oil. They hadn’t a clue. The dad-to-be and I went outside and popped the hoods on their cars. Upon checking the dipstick on one, we saw a shade of black that is hard to describe. His wife’s car was at least a quart low, and she had no windshield-washer fluid. But hey, they had brand-new tires!
We humans sometimes forget the simplest things. You can’t remember your anniversary, but you know your car’s horsepower. Your mothers’ birthday escapes you, but you know exactly how many home runs Kirk Gibson hit in 1984. So buy a calendar to keep track of important dates and maintenance tasks. Keep a copy of this log in the truck and another in the management office.
Every Day Is Better in the End
Your customers are your livelihood. It only makes sense to give them a fully operational, well-maintained truck. The greatest benefit to proper maintenance is safety, followed closely by long truck life. With the right care, an engine will last forever. And you’ll spend far less to preserve a vehicle than you will to make repairs if you don’t maintain it properly. If you ever have a warranty issue, your maintenance log will come in handy. A dealership will not argue with a well-maintained truck when the owner has a complete record.
So maintain your body, mind, soul, relationships, business, and vehicles—particularly those rental trucks. Remember, maintenance is an everyday endeavor with big benefits.
Kirk W. Nash is the president and CEO of K.W. Nash Group Inc., which provides truck leasing, rental and insurance for self-storage and other industries. For more information, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org; call 877.818.7825; visit www.kwnashgroup.com.