Denise Rondini, Aftermarket Editor.

Denise Rondini, Aftermarket Editor. 

While it seems like price dominates conversations about both parts purchasing and service provider selection, the reality is that while price is important, it often is not the most important factor.

The folks at Minimizer recently shared some survey results with me and they were rather interesting. Fleets, owner-operators and aftermarket parts distributors were asked what matters most when they are purchasing aftermarket parts. Their choices were brand, perceived quality, price, warranty, and other.

Hands-down, quality was the number one factor across all three groups. It broke down this way: 48.4% of fleets, 48.2% of owner-operators and 54.4% of aftermarket distributors named perceived quality as the main reason they select a particular part or accessory.

It’s interesting that all three groups pointed to quality as their number one priority. It should be especially comforting to fleets that aftermarket parts distributors are focused on quality, too. The more people in the parts supply chain that insist on quality, the more likely it is that quality parts will end up on your trucks.

And it looks like parts purchasing is not the only place where quality matters. In a recent survey by MacKay & Co., fleets ranked quality of repair as the top concern about outsourcing service work. That is one of the reasons many of them are not outsourcing their maintenance and repair work. They are not convinced they are getting quality repairs outside their shops, even if quality parts are being used. Price and the time to complete a repair were also cited as key factors in the decision to keep maintenance in house.

So why is quality dominating price? In the Minimizer study, price came in a distant second with 28.1% of fleets, 48.2% of owner-operators and 23.3% of aftermarket distributors selecting price as the most important factor in the parts and accessory purchasing decision.

“Quality products provide customers with long-term savings and an overall lower lifecycle cost,” says Craig Kruckeberg, CEO of Minimizer.

Fleets that focus on lifecycle cost — or as it is being called these days total cost of ownership — tend to be less concerned with initial cost and more concerned with how the part performs over the life of the truck. They also look at things such as maintenance intervals and ease of maintenance, recognizing that downtime has to be factored into the total cost of ownership equation.

A less-expensive part that fails more often needs to be maintained more frequently or takes longer to maintain or repair ends up not being such a bargain. It’s the old penny-wise, pound-foolish adage.

If you are one of those fleet managers who thinks price is the most important factor, you might want to sit down and look at what that bargain part is really costing you. If someone other than you is making the parts-buying decision, you owe it to yourself to sit down with him and try to make him look beyond that initial price. If your driver can’t make a delivery because the truck is broken down on the side of the road, you haven’t saved a dime. In fact, not only could you lose a customer, you also could find yourself having to find a replacement driver. And in this day and age that is no easy task.