When it’s time to upfit your single commercial vehicle or entire fleet, you’ll want to make sure that you have the proper plans in place to optimize the task.
While it can be a complicated process with plenty of opportunities for things to go wrong, by planning ahead and working together with your own field team and the Camco Wheel & Axle fabrication and upfitting team, you’ll find the process will run much smoother and efficiently – helping you to get exactly what you need, when you need it.
Take the following tips into consideration when planning your next upfitting.
- Get the right people involved.
It can be easy to delegate responsibilities to your fleet manager and have them make the final decisions. But if you fail to get the end-user involved, the individuals who will be using the commercial vehicle and accessories on a daily basis, then you are bound to miss something vital. The employees who work in the field have better insight into what is actually required to get the job done safely and effectively.
Failing to meet the needs of your team will end up requiring you to make additional upfitting changes that will not only cost you more but require your vehicle or fleet to remain out of commission for longer – potentially damaging your business or stretching out project deadlines.
- Set expectations from the get-go.
There’s nothing wrong with communicating your expectations with the upfitting company that you’ll be working with on the very first meeting. Work together with them to set a reasonable timeline while keeping in mind the potential for delays.
During the duration of the upfitting process, keep these lines of communication open so you can stay on top of the build schedule and so that your field team can also be informed of expected delivery date.
- Always keep documentation.
You should always have a paper trail of all the processes and development procedures. This documentation should include spec development and input from your field team to ensure that they are receiving exactly what they need. This will also work as evidence that you worked toward meeting their requirements should there be a dispute further down the line.
Additionally, by documenting the processes and lessons learned, you will have a guide that can help you standardize your commercial vehicles during other upfitting operations.
- Balance field input with standardized options.
While it may be tempting to meet all of the specifications made by your personnel, standardized upfitting across your fleet will generally result in specs that can handle the vast majority of projects. Standardized spec’ing also allows for easier management of the upfitting process, especially if you are updating an entire fleet, as spec’ing for each individual commercial vehicle can be time consuming and expensive. Recognizing the purpose of each vehicle will allow you to identify the opportunities for one-off specs if necessary. If all your vehicles will be utilized for the same purposes then standardized spec’ing is a much more effective way to go.
On top of that, standardized spec’ing also has cost reduction benefits, reduced lead times, and consistency that simplifies quality assurance.
- Plan ahead and plan early.
The planning process can take quite a bit of time when you consider that you’ll likely need sufficient lead time to determine specs for multiple vehicles, obtain quotes, and order customized accessories. That’s not taking into account the production time.
There are also budget issues that can come into play if you are looking to upfit municipal owned vehicles. City budgets are generally created long before the end of the year and any request to obtain funding for upfitting has to be submitted before these due dates. Waiting too long can leave you out of funds.
Planning should also include long-term needs. Identifying the level of quality you want for your various upfitting accessories is going to be important in the bigger scheme of things; a cheaper item generally means lesser-quality which can, in turn, affect your need to purchase replacement parts sooner – costing you more in the long run.
- Research the upfitters experience and their relationships with vendors.
Different upfitters are likely to have specialized experiences in producing a certain type of product for specific industries. You’ll want to ask up front what these experiences have been to ensure they can meet your needs.
Also keep in mind how long they have been in business, how long they have been upfitting, the experience and certifications of their team, and any major projects they’ve undertaken.
You’ll also want to consider the upfitting company’s relationship with vendors. Are they certified in the products they are reselling? Do they have solid reputations with the vendors? These simple questions can help you to better understand the quality of their work.
- Cost is important but not everything.
Understandably, budget constraints and costs are going to play a major role in your decision when choosing an upfitter, but it shouldn’t be the only thing you consider. The quality of the equipment being used, the reputation of the upfitting company, and their ability to provide a safe vehicle need to all be taken into consideration.
Upfitting should include ergonomic features that will provide your field team a safe working environment. Their ability to work safely should be at the top of your mind not only because of morally sound reasons but as a measure to protect your business against personal injury lawsuits, OSHA fines, citations, increased insurance rates, and frequent worker compensation claims. Spending a little more to prevent accidents and provide a safe commercial vehicle can actually be a cost-effective measure in the long run.
When you need professional upfitting for your commercial vehicles, choose the reliable team of Camco Wheel & Axle.
At Camco Wheel & Axle, we put the extra effort to provide topnotch truck upfit and van upfit services. With over 30 years of experience and top quality accessories, as well as our very own fabrication and upfitting center, we can meet your needs no matter what they are.