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Five steps for creating maintenance shop budgets

July 19, 2023
Why using a fleet management system to build a shop's budget is more proactive then focusing on supply chain issues and inflation.

As maintenance shop managers are battling with supply chain issues and inflation while figuring out next year's budget, Chuck Drews, product manager at Fleetio, a web-based fleet management software, encourages fleets to avoid making macroeconomics or global supply chain issues their primary focus, but instead use digital management technology to track and report data that is specific to their fleet.

“The biggest challenge for organizations is that they have no solution to enable decision-making,” Drews said. “Maybe they’re tracking on the spreadsheet, maybe they’re on paper. They just have nothing to go into to extract that and make decisions with. The role and responsibility of fleet managers is not to be an analyst. So, it’s just challenging for them to take their qualitative feedback about resourcing or budget constraints and then translate that to their leadership without data to support what they’re saying.”

Drews offers five basics to consider when creating a maintenance budget:

1. Develop a service program: Have a system in place to create and track maintenance schedules for each asset within a fleet, including knowing at which mileage intervals it’s going to perform them.

2. Document estimated costs associated with each planned service: Expected costs can always be updated later with actuals, but it’s good to have planned maintenance cost estimates to start with.

3. Understand each asset’s forecast and usage for the timeframe that you’re budgeting: Predict which specific assets will actually hit those service intervals within the timeframe for which you’re budgeting.

For example, a single asset at the beginning of Q3 may have a maintenance event due every 10,000 miles. If there are 78,000 miles on the truck on day one and it travels an average of 200 miles per day with an expected 18,000 miles to be traveled in the next 90 days, managers could expect at least one maintenance event for this asset.

Once the exercise is done for the whole fleet, managers can have a pretty good guess of planned maintenance costs throughout each month.

4. Plan for the unplanned: Estimate maintenance costs outside of what you have planned. For example, if a rock hits a windshield, that’s an unexpected part failure. Building some leeway in the budget for unplanned repairs will help avoid surprises at the end of the quarter.

5. Have a system for storing and analyzing the data in steps one through four: The budgeting exercise itself could be recorded on spreadsheets and other business tools, but the tracking of maintenance schedules, vehicle mileage, odometer readings, and daily usage statistics should be housed in a fleet management system.

About the Author

Cris Beaulieu

Cris Beaulieu is an Associate Editor for Fleet Maintenance magazine. She joined the team after working in local news media. She earned a bachelor’s in journalism at Cleveland State University along with a TV and Radio Broadcast degree at Ohio Media School. 

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