LAWRENCEVILLE, GA – Gwinnett County’s fleet management division, part of the County’s support services department, has decided to handle warranty work for General Motors vehicles in the fleet on its own.

Government Fleet corresponded with Michael Lindsey, the director of fleet management for the fleet management department, about why the County made this change and the benefits handling warranty work will offer.

“We are constantly evaluating the most efficient ways to reduce fleet costs,” Lindsey said. “While we knew that there were certain costs to the Gwinnett County for having warranty repairs performed at a dealer shop, transportation, etc., it wasn’t until we formally analyzed those costs that we realized our exposure. Armed with that knowledge, we approached our GM service rep and proposed the idea of becoming our own warranty provider. Given our relationship with General Motors, along with the saturation of GM vehicles within our fleet, he agreed to explore the idea further.”

Now that the agreement is in place, GM will train the County’s technicians so they can perform warranty work. After training is complete, GM will reimburse the County for vehicle maintenance and repair work on the GM vehicles the County operates. This agreement will allow for warrantable adjustments/warranty repairs, special policy adjustments, goodwill policy adjustments, and campaign adjustments approved by GM, according to Lindsey. The reimbursement rate is $55.82 per hour, plus parts. Once a covered warranty repair is handled by technicians, the County will file a claim through GM’s electronic warranty claim tracking system. Once approved, GM will transfer the reimbursement funds to the County electronically to an account set up specifically for this program.

Lindsey said cost savings and additional technician training are the two major benefits to this program, though there are a range of other ancillary benefits.

“We will now have the same resources available to our technician staff that would normally be exclusive to GM dealer technicians,” he said. “This will also put us in a better position to stay ahead of rapidly evolving vehicle technologies, particularly with regard to current and coming emissions regulations. Making the repairs in our shop versus transporting to a dealer will allow us to keep the vehicles on the road more, as well as allow us the flexibility to adjust workload as priorities change. Prior to this, we would be forced to adjust priorities based on the local dealer’s ability to get the vehicle in their shop. Strengthening our relationship with a global manufacturer the caliber of GM we’re sure will produce many benefits that we’ve not yet thought of.”

Lindsey said that at the time the County began exploring this idea, they weren’t aware of other municipalities handling their own warranty work, but learned that GM has similar agreements with others.

“Through the exploration process with GM we have been made aware of other municipalities they have a similar agreement with (New York City, City of Detroit, and San Diego County, to cite a few). As far as we understand it, we are the first in the metro Atlanta area. Our rep has indicated the criteria for consideration from GM would cause this type of agreement to be prohibitive for most fleets.”

Lindsey explained that in years past, vehicle manufacturers generally weren’t interested in this kind of arrangement with their fleet customers. The County was able to get this program off the ground by first showing GM it’s able to handle warranty work effectively. Second, current market conditions are playing a role.

“With more and more consumers (private and public alike) exploring their market options as a result of budget restrictions, most manufacturers are willing to be more flexible in order to retain, and expand, their customer base,” Lindsey said. 

When asked about whether there are opportunities to expand this program, Lindsey believes there are definitely more to pursue.

“In fact, we already have a similar agreement with Kovatch Mobile Equipment (KME),” Lindsey said. “KME is one of the providers we currently use for Fire Apparatus equipment. Much of how we manage our GM agreement will come from a template we have been able to develop of this agreement. We are currently exploring further arrangements, and are finding other manufacturers open to the idea.” 

In terms of getting the program implemented, Lindsey said he received plenty of support from others in the County.

“We haven’t been met with any resistance,” he said. “All of the individuals we’ve had to count on for the successful launch of this program have been very cooperative.”

In related news, the County has implemented a number of fuel-saving programs for the fleet.

By Greg Basich