What fleets want from you: Canadian dealer, survey results reveal their secrets
Joe Segato, president of Mississauga (Ontario) Tire Centre, takes every opportunity to educate his fleet customers. And to Segato's delight, they're soaking up his advice like a sponge.
Mississauga Tire's five commercial centers serve 200 to 300 fleets from Toronto to Windsor with Bridgestone, Firestone, Continental, General, Michelin, BFGoodrich and Yokohama truck tires. All of the fleets are better informed about issues like tire maintenance thanks to the efforts of Segato and his truck tire salesmen. "Fleets know the importance of maintenance because they live cost-per-mile," he says.
Segato's staff covers several key topics, including air pressure. "We explain to them that air pressure is their best friend." Proper tire matching is another important issue. "If one tire is taking all the weight, it'll wear faster, heat up and blow out."
Other subjects include the pros and cons of different tread patterns, "and what's the best tread for their operation." Mississauga Tire sells to school bus fleets, construction companies, garbage haulers, line-haul fleets and a variety of other operations. "Everyone needs a different tire," says Segato.
To determine what works best, Mississauga Tire runs test tires with fleets and tracks their performance "from cradle to grave. If I can't prove that the tire is better for them, I'll give them back their miles. And 'better' means not just mileage, but wear and traction."
Segato says his customers are more than just picky: "They want perfection!"
What dealers can offer
Dealers who responded to Modern Tire Dealer's 2003 Truck Tire Survey were even more specific in detailing their wants and needs.
When asked, "What are the most important qualities that commercial fleet medium/heavy truck tire customers demand from your dealership?" dealers put low price and emergency on-site service at the top of the list. "Equitable adjustment policies" was next, followed by, in descending order, early morning service, tire maintenance programs, 24-hour road service, particular tire brands/vehicle maintenance work/retreading (three-way tie), a particular retread process, scrap surveys and mounted/refurbished wheel programs.
Despite end user demands, commercial tire dealers remain the primary influence on tire buying decisions, according to the truck tire survey. Forty-six-percent of medium/heavy truck tire buyers do not specify brands when shopping for replacements, according to commercial dealers. An additional 26% initially ask for a specific brand, but dealers ultimately help them pick a different brand.
"Pricing that meets market needs" topped the index of things tiremakers could best supply their dealers to bolster medium/heavy truck tire sales, according to survey results. Adequate inventory, field technical support, better service and more product information rounded out the wish list.
Survey respondents rated their primary medium/heavy truck tire supplier's customer service, adjustment policies and order fill rates as "above average."
Eighty-eight-percent of dealers who filled out the survey cited irregular wear as a medium/heavy truck tire problem area that needs to be addressed. Fifty-six percent said zipper ruptures were a problem, while 53% said they had retreadability issues. Some 49% cited bead cracking as too frequent.