Do you know your fleet commercial customer’s biggest truck tire pain point?
Spoiler alert: It’s inflation. Despite the seemingly simple preventive maintenance practice of checking cold tire pressures, underinflated tires still plague fleets. As the tire shop that sold a commercial fleet its next set of durable or efficiency-boosting tires, all your hard work fitting the right rubber to the right application can be for naught if both you and your the customer aren’t ensuring that their truck drivers are properly completing pre- and post-trip inspections, which includes checking tire pressure among other safety critical checks.
Consider this: According to the American Trucking Associations’ Technology & Maintenance Council, running on a tire that’s underinflated by as little as 10% can reduce fuel economy by 1.5%. At 20% under-inflation, in addition to those lost miles per gallon, the effects include a roughly 30% reduction in tire life. To pile on, about 90% of tire blowouts are the result of underinflation, according to industry studies.
Now add in the fact that your commercial customer’s bottom line is most impacted by fuel and tire costs – two cost centers that are directly impacted by tire inflation, and anything you can do to help your commercial customers improve their tire inflation practices means becoming a better business partner in the long-haul.
How do you start? Just as a fleet would turn to you, its tire dealer, for tire maintenance help, so too can you turn to your tire manufacturer rep. Consider Bridgestone. Greg Kidd, sales engineer for Bridgestone Americas Tire Operations, noted that the tiremaker has 24 trained field engineers in its sales engineering group that are located across North America and specialize in commercial customer needs.
“They have a very good relationship with the dealer partners in their area. So, if someone wants to conduct tire training, doing it at the tire dealer is a great idea,” Kidd said. “The best way to learn more about tires is by getting out and laying your hand on tires, and at that tire dealer, commercial customers are going to have several wear patterns that they could look at, and they would have out-of-service tires that they could review.”
The type of training and support will vary by tire manufacturer, but Kidd noted that, in some cases, Bridgestone reps will conduct tire training at the commercial customer location for even more focused tire management insight.
“At the dealer, you may be looking at other fleets’ tires that have come in, but at the fleet themselves, obviously we’re looking at their tires that have been removed from service,” Kidd said. “We’re always willing to do that.”
For more tire inflation-minded insight, click here to read more from an interview with Bridgestone’s Kidd as he talks commercial customer tire inflation tips with our sister publication Fleet Equipment.