In the race to get trucks on the job site as fast as possible, customers in the construction industry often end up seeing their work truck suppliers as a way to get a pickup with a bed on it — and not much more. That kind of thinking can end up costing them more money and time because they’re not upfitting their trucks to meet the demands of their work.
Here are three tips to make sure your next construction vehicle is work ready:
1. Don’t Shortchange Upfitting
The worst thing to see is a crew installing decals or other equipment on their trucks after they have been delivered. This signals to me that there wasn’t enough communication about the customer’s needs or how the vehicle would be used in the field.
My advice is to share as much useful information with your upfitter about how the truck will be used as you can. Doing that creates opportunities for them to suggest features (like decals, tool boxes or cab guards) that make the truck ready for work the day you receive it. Plus, upfitters have the benefit of buying in bulk. If your construction fleet is spread over 10 sites, you won’t have to pay 10 different aftermarket providers to get the equipment you need.
2. Budget Time for Specs
Unlike other fleet businesses, construction work is heavily dependent on winning bids. This situation results in more pressure to put trucks in the field quickly after the deal is signed and a narrower window for designing vehicles.
Two strategies can help overcome this time crunch:
First, try to put the builds you know you will need again and again on a replacement cycle. For example, if your business is road construction, there are certain vehicle configurations you will need on almost every job. As a result, you can budget resources towards replacing them at regular intervals instead of when a new bid comes in.
When you can’t put your vehicle on a recycle program, budget as much time for design and upfitting as you can. That extra time will ensure that you and the manufacturer have enough time to work through all the requirements for your vehicle.
3. Consider New Technologies
Whether it’s driver safety or fuel efficiency technology, advanced solutions are available to help maximize the efficiency of your fleet. For the construction industry, there are a range of driver assistant technologies like cameras and sensors that improve the overall safety of the vehicle. And, new high-performance materials, adhesives, and bondings are available that can reduce weight and save on fuel costs. Make sure to ask your upfitter about the technology options available to you.
Finally, remember that your goal should be getting a work-ready truck that’s built for your work. Focusing on that — and resisting pressure to just get an order filled — will ultimately save you from spending time and money after delivery.
About the Author: Bill Pruemer is the director of National Accounts for the Reading Truck Group.