When the time comes to purchase new forklifts, selecting the right dealer partner is as important as selecting the right machine. Viewing the dealer as a partner in your operation is a subtle mind shift that will serve you well, since they can have a significant impact on your operation from the beginning, as well as over time.
Today we’ll discuss the five most important aspects to consider when the time comes to buy new forklifts, and you’re faced with making the critical decision on which dealer to partner with.
1. Upfront Assessment
Based on your current forklift fleet and your specific operation, a good dealer will be able to make the right recommendations when the time comes to make a change. This recommendation should be based on a comprehensive assessment. If a dealer makes a blind recommendation to you, here’s our advice: run.
2. The Warranty
Obviously a good warranty ensures your equipment is covered if it fails sooner than promised. Make sure that your new dealer has at least an industry standard warranty. We recommend reaching out to some of the dealer’s customers to find out whether or not that warranty has been honored, too.
3. Service Level Agreement (SLAs) Terms
It’s easy to get caught up in selecting the right product for your purchase (i.e., do the trucks meet our key requirements and perform the way we need?) but forget to fully evaluate the maintenance services and agreements at your peril. We recommend you negotiate and write down the key Service Levels you expect, including:
- How quickly can we expect a service tech onsite when we have an issue?
- What is covered and what isn’t from a maintenance standpoint?
- Can I get an agreement that makes a portion of our maintenance costs fixed rather than a guess each month?
- If you don’t live up to the agreed SLAs, is there monetary compensation for downtime?
Remember, the more strict your SLAs, the more you may pay for them. But the cost of maintaining a vehicle can be small when compared with losing productive truck/operators time during busy season. Again, vetting them by speaking to their customers is always a good way to find out what happens after the initial purchase. Make sure they meet the commitments they make.
4. Partnership Alignment
Understanding the value system of your dealer partner is critical to making a final decision. Most truck relationships last many years. Ensuring you have a partner committed to your organization’s ongoing success, as well as one with a demonstrated ability to address issues rapidly when they arise, is critical. Make sure you take the time to understand what makes the company tick to ensure it aligns with the vision you have for your supplier partners. There are too many great lift truck dealers out there to settle for less.
5. Power Partner
Since batteries and chargers make up the “power train” of your forklift, you’ll want to make sure you have a reliable power partner. Most forklift providers can make a recommendation, or refer you to their preferred power management vendor.
While there are many factors that go into choosing the right forklift dealer, this is a great list of aspects to get you started—and to get you thinking beyond the forklifts themselves. Asking a ton of questions and doing research behind the scenes will ensure you make the right decision. That way, you’ll have the ideal forklifts for your motive operation, as well as the right partnership to ensure those forklifts meet your needs in year five the same way they did in year one.