How breakdowns can take a business off the road

Business breakdown NRMA technician

A breakdown is an inconvenience for anyone. But for a business, having a vehicle out of action on company time can have widespread consequences.

That’s because vehicles are more than just a way to get from A to B for most modern companies. Whether you’re a tradie using your ute to move between jobs, an aged care worker checking on elderly clients in their homes, a logistics company making deliveries, or a salesperson attending client meetings – vehicles are now an extension of the workplace. And just as it’s important to maintain tools in a factory, you also need to maintain the equipment staff are using on the road.

Here are some surprising facts about breakdowns, their repercussions, and what you can do to prepare your business for when they do occur.

Breakdowns happen more often than you think

In 2020 alone, the NRMA answered 1.3 million calls for roadside assistance. That equates to an average of 3,531 calls for help every day. And of those breakdowns, around 50,000 were business vehicles.

Most common reasons Members call us for help:

  1. Flat battery
  2. Wheel and tyre issues
  3. Electrical fault
  4. Locked-out

Why breakdowns are bad for business

Breakdowns can have a big impact on the bottom line in a number of ways:

  • Lost earnings: Losing sales through missed appointments or failing to make deliveries.
  • Reparation costs: Forced to issue refunds or compensate customers for losses or inconvenience they’ve experienced.
  • Reputational damage: A failure to meet delivery expectations can leave customers disgruntled and result in negative reviews.
  • Health and safety: Businesses have a responsibility to ensure employee health and safety on the road. Breaking down in an unsafe area, exposure to the elements, and lack of food or water can have serious safety implications.
  • Security: Abandoned vehicles, particularly if stocked with goods, can be an attractive target for thieves and vandals.
  • Loss of productivity: With a vehicle and employee/s out of action, a business’ output can be strained.

Preparing for the unexpected

The only thing better than getting a vehicle going again is to not break down in the first place. There are a number of things your business can do to prevent breakdowns, and to minimise the impacts should one occur.

Maintain your vehicles

The simplest way to reduce the risk of breakdowns is to keep your vehicles well-maintained and service them regularly. If you have a number of vehicles, professional fleet servicing could be your most convenient bet. Train staff to play their part in keeping the fuel tank full, checking tyre pressure and reporting any defects before they have a chance to cause bigger problems. Finally, remember to start vehicles up regularly so they’re not idle for long periods of time and the battery stays charged.

Take up roadside assistance

Ensuring your vehicles are protected by roadside assistance means your employees can get help wherever and whenever they need it. The option to join the NRMA as a business Member is more cost-effective than lodging a callout on-demand and planning ahead allows you to better protect your cashflow and budgets. Plus, fees are tax deductible when used for business purposes.

Have a back-up strategy in place

It’s a good idea to have a replacement or alternative vehicle at hand that can be used if your primary vehicle is out of action. On the same note, having a replacement driver on standby could also help you minimise downtime.

Train staff with an action plan

It’s important to ensure that all staff know what to do if a vehicle breaks down. Keep phone numbers in the vehicle or on the employee’s mobile phone of your roadside assistance provider, the company office and emergency services. Make sure that employees know to prioritise their safety, but to also ensure they notify the business of any problems.

Be prepared with a safety kit

Along with important numbers, keep an emergency kit in the vehicle, and include safety items like a high-visibility vest, torch and reflective safety cone or warning triangle.

Minimising the risks

Remember, breakdowns present risks not just to the vehicle, but also to its occupants and other road users. Here’s a handy guide on what to do if your vehicle breaks down:

  • Activate your hazard lights
  • Pull over in a safe spot like a breakdown lane or hard shoulder
  • Park as far away from moving traffic as possible
  • Activate your parking lights if visibility is poor
  • Stay in your vehicle with your seatbelt fastened and call for roadside assistance
  • If you need to leave the vehicle be sure to check for traffic first
  • Always leave the vehicle from the safest side and away from traffic
  • Only attempt to change a flat tyre if it is safe to do so
  • Avoid crossing the road if possible
  • Stand clear of the road and behind a safety barrier if possible


Keep your business moving

Get in touch for a chat about Membership options.