Providing Truck Tire Service for Fleets Small and Large - Tire Review Magazine

Providing Truck Tire Service for Fleets Small and Large

Purchasing and getting service on tires as a large national fleet is one matter, but how does the small-to-medium size fleet stand in the eyes of tiremakers and their dealer networks? Just how do the small-to-medium size fleets compete on price and "special" services vs. the big, national fleets with reported "extras?" 
Getting on-site service 24/7 is a priority with fleets both large and small. National programs through tiremakers can help make that happen.
We researched what the tiremakers have created for the smaller operations, and here are some helpful programs, all with info-packed websites:

• “We offer the small-to-medium size fleets uptime-critical services that keep them running to maximize tire performance and track valuable data,” said Matthew Loos, channel manager, fleet and OE for Bridgestone Americas.

Bridgestone’s no-cost National Preferred program provides the smaller operation with the advantages traditionally only enjoyed by large fleets. With guaranteed pricing, customers can avoid “surprises” on the road and know the real cost of a breakdown. National Preferred customers also have access to a 24/7 Emergency Road Service call center, with connection to over 2,300 network providers.

• “We have several programs for the smaller fleet to make our product available whether it’s with our Servicing Dealer Network, and if they require over the road service, we can accommodate them through a National Account,” said Rick Phillips, director of commercial sales for Yokohama Tire Corp.

Yokohama’s fuel-savings calculator is a helpful, interactive tool that allows carriers to perform a customized analysis, showing not only the rolling resistance variation between different tires, but also the effects different tires will have on their bottom line in fuel expenses. The company also recently unveiled Smart Solution, a new campaign aimed at tire dealers, fleet owners and truck operators highlighting technologies that align with a fleet’s critical tire requirements. 

• One valuable suggestion from Giti Tire USA western sales director John Thomas is that “Giti has a strong national network of servicing dealers and U.S. distribution centers. So getting tires and service is not an issue with us.”

• Three years ago, Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. created FleetHQ, a service program tailored to smaller fleet operations. It includes negotiated tire pricing, and nationwide service coverage with centralized billing coming only from the fleet’s local dealer.

“Those fleets’ tire concerns are our key objective every day,” said Michael Stevens, director of FleetHQ. “Our 80 service agents are available to the 19,000-20,000 power units owned by some 1,800 unique fleets.”

• “You don’t have to be a big fleet to have the advantage,” emphasized Fritz Mueller, small fleet business segment manager for Michelin North America. “We see those customers with one and 99 trucks and offer our Advantage program.” The program provides consistent pricing on new tires and retreads, nationwide emergency road service (24/7/365) without dispatch fees and access to a personalized program website. 

In addition, small fleets with as few as six trucks that are also Michelin Advantage Program members can enroll in either the Premier or Premier Elite Service Offer, providing access to nationwide consistent service providers.
 One of the key services any fleet can expect is expert tire advice from both the supplier and servicing dealer.
• According to Toyo Tire USA, the smaller size fleets over-rely on themselves and/or their tire dealer and don’t stop to think that the tire company has a great array of tools and assistance they could use.

Toyo engages fleet managers and fleet owners in comprehensive training that assists them in all areas, with such topics as tire inflation, vehicle geometry, application specifics, vehicle aerodynamics and fleet cost evaluations.

• Continental Tire the Americas took a two-fold customer service approach: a comprehensive tire maintenance policy (ContiTireManagement), and an emergency road service program (ContiFleet). “The obvious goal is to help the fleet achieve better tire maintenance practices and longer tire life for their important equipment investment,” CTA said. 

Its emergency road service program was created for smaller fleets that don’t qualify for national account pricing programs. Membership is free, with 24-hour access to over 1,000 commercial tire dealers. 

Bottom line: it’s a matter of taking service up a notch or two to assure uptime and safe operation. Large, medium, small, or extra small motor carriers  really are all the same – they simply want and deserve safe, dependable rubber to roll on.

Tire Facts & Tips
The tire experts at Giti Tire USA have compiled the following list of facts and tips:

• Tire air pressure: For every 10% of underinflation in the tires on avehicle, a 1% reduction in fuel economy will occur, which althoughsmall in appearance is actually big when you multiply by tirepositions, trucks in your fleet and miles run per year. By running atire constantly underinflated by 20%, its tread life will be reduced by30%, while 40% underinflation will reduce the tire life by 50%.

• Tire rotation: The periodic rotation of tires will not only preventor reduce the irregular wear (camber, river wear, toe-in on the frontaxle; heel/toe, step-down in the drive axle), it also extends the lifeof tires and provides smoother, more fuel-efficient performance.

• Vehicle alignment: This is one of the top contributors to fast wear,irregular wear and fuel economy in all the tires on the vehicle and isassociated with other physical effects like the aerodynamics of thetractor and trailer with subsequent additional impact in fuel economy(2% or more). 

• Vehicle speed: Rolling resistance increases with speed, so for everymile per hour increase above 55 mph, there is a 2% reduction in milesper gallon. Therefore, a change from 55 mph to 65 mph results in a 22%increase in fuel consumption while reducing only 18% of travel time, itis estimated.

• Tire supply challenge: Giti’s John Thomas offers some words of wisdomon today’s tire supply chain issues. “There is a huge supply issueright now in truck tires that is hitting the smaller fleet operationsespecially hard,” he said. “Fleet managers are having a very difficulttime finding tires, and they are giving new brands a try out ofnecessity. There are a lot of brands out there – some with establishedoperations in the U.S. and some that are just brought in by thecontainer load. Also, when shopping for tires and even differentbrands, fleet managers should ask their tire dealers about fill ratesfor that particular brand.”

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