Are you being served?

Let's face it. One truck driver's isolated service problem frequently falls on deaf ears. Do documented numbers have more clout? You bet. Providing the repair service industry with those actual numbers is an important step in communicating truckers' needs for prompt, fair-priced and quality work.

Land Line sent surveys to a random sampling of OOIDA members (both owner-operators and employed drivers) asking them to evaluate their most recent experience at a repair facility.

We asked where they went for service, their reason for the visit, and their feelings about various aspects of their visit.

We thought you'd be interested. Feel free to share it with your repair service facility.


Sixty-five percent of our owner-operators made an appointment to have work done. Fifty-one percent received a cost estimate before work was started. How did those cost estimates stack up against the reality of the final bill? Sixty-eight percent of our respondents reported that their final bills were within $50 (high or low) of their estimates. Eleven percent said the actual cost exceeded the estimate by $51 to $100. Eight percent said their final bill was $101 to $250 more than their estimate. And 12 percent of our owner-operators had bills that outstripped their estimates by more than $251.

If the final bill was more than their estimate, did our owner-operators feel that the cost was justified and for reasons that could not have been predicted before work began? Seventy-three percent said yes, leaving 27 percent of our owner-operators who were no doubt disgruntled and dissatisfied.


Seventy-five percent of the owner-operators who completed our survey reported that they obtained an estimate for the time repairs were expected to take. Seventy-one percent said that repairs were completed within the time promised.

Of those whose repairs took longer than anticipated, 63 percent felt that the difference was justifiable. Thirty-four percent indicated that the non-availability of parts was a factor in more time being required for repairs. These answers seem to indicate that some service facilities have work to do in these areas.

Time is money, and both are of vital importance to owner-operators. Thirty-one percent of our respondents whose repairs took longer than the estimate said, as a result, they missed a pick-up/delivery appointment or missed a load altogether. Sixty-four percent of those who answered our survey questions said the accuracy (or inaccuracy) of their cost and time estimates would definitely influence their decision whether to utilize a particular facility again.


Owner-operators have some serious concerns about service technicians. Eighteen percent of our owner-operators told us that they did not feel those who worked on their trucks were knowledgeable and qualified to perform the work. More than one-fourth (27 percent) indicated it was necessary to bring the truck back or take it to another facility because the work originally performed was not adequate.

Parts counter employees got high marks from our owner-operators. Ninety-two percent of our owner-operators felt that the folks at the parts counter were knowledgeable about truck parts. Eighty-four percent told us that when a part was not in stock, employees attempted to locate the needed part at another facility, either nearby or on the owner-operator's route.

Where do o/o's go when the truck needs fixed?

About one in five of our respondents utilized an Independent repair facility, while the remaining 80 percent opted for OEM dealership service facilities.  About a third of the owner-operators who responded took their trucks to the dealership where they were purchased.  Most truckers were there to have minor repairs or warranty work done.  Overall, 75 percent of owner-operators indicated they were satisfied or very satisfied with the treatment they received.

How did OEM facilities tack up in the opinions of OOIDA's o/o's?

The following percentages indicate owner-operators who said they were satisfied (or very satisfied) with their most recent experience at an OEM facility.

Western Star 100%
Navistar 87%
Mack 86%
Kenworth 73%
Peterbilt 67%
Volvo 69%
Sterling 66%
Freightliner 70%
Detroit 83%
Caterpillar 83%
Cummins 63%

Even the smallest details will affect consumer's decisions to patronize a repair facility

The waiting area
In most cases, when a trucker rolls into a service facility, staying in the truck is not an option. So, we asked our truckers for their opinions about waiting areas. Eighty-five percent told us the waiting areas were clean, and that most facilities had coffee, cold drinks, snacks, telephones and clean restrooms available.

Twenty-four percent of our owner-operators told us that the waiting area in the facility they visited was simply a set-aside area of a larger room, with the noise and activities of the facility surrounding them. Thirty-eight percent told us that they waited in a separate room equipped with chairs. The remaining 38 percent of our owner-operators reported that a separate room featuring sofas and easy chairs was provided.

According to the results of our survey, only about half of these service facilities included a table or desk for doing paperwork in the waiting area. With the volume of paperwork a trucker has to keep up with, some service facilities might want think about addressing this issue.

Is the waiting area all that important to an owner-operator? Thirty-six percent reported that the conditions in the waiting area would influence their decision whether to patronize a particular facility again.

Meals and motels
Chances are, when the truck is in the shop, the driver is going to be waiting through one or more mealtimes. Few dealerships or facilities are located next door to a restaurant, so what happens to the trucker whose only form of transportation is in a service bay?

Only 30 percent of the owner-operators we surveyed said that the employees of the facility they visited offered them complimentary transportation to a dining facility. Forty-four percent reported that the employees ignored them in relation to the mealtime issue.

Owner-operators sometimes find themselves having to wait more than one day to have their truck repaired, requiring them to find someplace to sleep. Fifty-six percent of those who completed our survey said that the service facility's employees offered information about area hotels and motels. Forty-nine percent said that they were offered complimentary transportation to and from a lodging facility.

Is this important to owner-operators? Forty-one percent of our respondents said the actions of the service facility's employees relating to meals and lodging would influence their decision whether to patronize the facility again.

Ruth Jones, senior editor