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It’s all about logistics, not trucks

This is a perfect issue for me to stroll down memory lane and talk trucks. No, not SUVs, pickups or delivery trucks, but the big boys.

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It’s all about logistics, not trucks

This is a perfect issue for me to stroll down memory lane and talk trucks. No, not SUVs, pickups or delivery trucks, but the big boys. That’s right, Class 7 and 8 vehicles. Ah, just the thought brings back 20-some years of fond memories.

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The commercial truck market is where I cut my teeth, so it’s enjoyable to visit some of the issues that surround this industry, which happens to be a major part of the tire industry.

There’s no mystery to the fact that in today’s highly competitive trucking business, fleets continue to look at reducing costs. Even though the economy is good right now, fleets are much like children who lived through the Depression — they know what it’s like to live on very little. While they do spend money in good times, they are ever cautious and demand the best value from every vehicle, system and component.

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Let’s not forget that today’s truck fleets are logistics companies. That’s right, they aren’t trucking companies, they are logistics companies. Just like you, they are working to be "complete partners" with their customers. And trucks nowadays happen to be a necessary evil, a means to an end and not the end itself. As much as it kills me to utter those words, every expense that doesn’t contribute to their primary business runs the risk of being outsourced.

So it’s no surprise that tires continue to receive center-stage treatment. After fuel, tires are the second highest operating expense to any fleet. If I remember correctly, tires account for about 12 to 15 percent of a fleet’s total operating expense. Not to mention that the trucking industry shares a common problem with tire dealers, as the shortage of quality technicians force fleets to look even harder at third-party specialists to solve their service problems.

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The U.S. commercial truck industry sports about 7 million trucks on the road today. So there are plenty of fleets that will take full advantage of outsourcing opportunities. Tire dealers need to fully understand the needs of their fleet customers so they can provide optimum, downtime-reducing services.

In particular, there are thousands of small to medium size local and regional fleets that are screaming for expertise to solve their tire and service problems. You don’t have to look too far outside of your own community to find these opportunities. A fleet’s expanded focus on service-related issues couldn’t come at a better time, since they don’t want to bother with non-core elements of their business.

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There simply isn’t a better time to ratchet-up your commercial tire business and improve upon your services, which can easily increase your revenue base.

Technologically advanced tools and equipment, and proven tire service program options can go a long way towards qualifying you and your ability. Tire manufacturers and retreading equipment suppliers themselves offer support programs and products that can make you a fleet manager’s ally.

The first thing any successful commercial tire dealer must be able to provide today is an accurate accounting of a fleet’s tire costs. Specific tire reports will help a fleet better track acquisition costs, original and retread tread life, fuel efficiency, mounting expenses, casing life, retreading costs, and labor.

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Remember that each fleet has its own hot buttons — concerns, ideas and needs that they value and emphasize. If you identify and leverage them to the fleet’s advantage, you’ll be well on your way to a mutually beneficial partnership.

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