Material handling's "biggest mistake"

Industry leaders urge caution when choosing a new lift truck supplier

Responding to reports of companies selling lift trucks without any regards for suitability, the Fork Lift Truck Association is urging companies employing forklifts to use caution when appointing new suppliers.  

While there are many ways for lift truck purchases to go less than smoothly, one of the most common pitfalls is the mistaken belief that all dealers are created equally.

Fork Lift Truck Association Peter Harvey MBE explains: “It’s material handling’s biggest mistake and it’s an easy one to make. By creating this  ‘level’ playing field, you overlook crucial details, such as accreditations, registration and standards of working.

“Typically, you are entering into a contract which could last at least five years.  Think for a moment about the last time you were contacted – with no prior warning – by a supplier.

“Were they hoping to provide you with expert advice and exceptional service as part of a complete package? Or were they simply hoping to profit, while delivering the minimum in return?

“Sometimes that difference isn’t so clear. We regularly hear reports of suppliers who won’t specify a truck they don’t currently hold in stock – even if it’s the most suitable truck for the task at hand. A company like this would find it tough suggesting you could reduce fleet size, wouldn’t it?  They would. But it’s not their fault. After all, their job is to make money.”

But it doesn’t have to be this way, according to Mr Harvey. He says: “At the FLTA, our Membership’s core objective is to establish and develop customer relationships that are based on excellent service, continued provision and buttoned-down costs.”

FLTA Members operate throughout the UK and include lift truck dealers, service and maintenance companies, manufacturers and suppliers.

Despite their vast differences, these group share a passion for delivering outstanding customer care., which is underpinned by the FLTA Code of Practice. FLTA Member companies must expressly agree to achieve and maintain Association- defined standards for safety, efficiency and integrity.

Any company can apply for Membership, but only those meeting stringent FLTA criteria, abiding to the nationally ratified Code of Practice and passing routine inspections can bear the FLTA marque.

Mr Harvey says: “For more than 40 years, the FLTA logo has symbolised companies which have put their professionalism, standards and expertise to the test… and proven it.

“Each has been scrutinised closely to prove their competence in helping you work safely, legally and productively. And, importantly, they are always looking to build on that.”  

To ensure coverage against every eventuality, FLTA Members must carry significant, documented public and liability cover; use FLTA-approved contracts and follow quality-controlled procedures to ensure fair and prompt handling of complaints.

Mr Harvey concludes: “By choosing an FLTA Member, you can be confident that you are working on the right side of the Law and, when your trucks arrive on site, you can rest assured that it’s in good working condition.

“To keep it that way, our Members employ competent service engineers that work to agreed service schedules – keeping you complying with all relevant Health and Safety regulations (including Thorough Examination as necessary).”

Find the most reputable suppliers and service providers in your area by visiting the FLTA Member Finder at www.fork-truck.org.uk. Searches can be done by region or name.

7 questions to consider when appointing a new dealer

  1. Is the company accredited to any trade bodies or associations?

This type of vetting quickly separates the companies in it for the long haul.

  1. What’s their servicing set up?

Is it convincing? Sometimes things which sound too-good-to-be-true actually are.

  1. Can the company back up service commitments?

If so, how?

  1. Does it have a history of working with customers like me?

Choosing a dealer with a good knowledge of your business is just half the battle…

  1. Have the company’s customers stuck around?

Or, did they drop them after a poor experience?

  1. Do they have access to different financiers?

If so, it might mean pricing is more competitive.

  1. Will they help me manage my fleet?

Or, will they simply fit a gadget to the truck that will do the same on its own?