recently saw a perfect example of the problem. “A shop foreman was proudly showing me a tire which had just been repaired by one of his crew,” said Garrett. ®From all outward appearances it was a beautiful repair job,® Garrett said, ®but, as we carefully looked at the tire, it was obvious it had been run under-inflated and was destined to fail again.
“Fortunately, the foreman was an experienced tire man and saw the problem at the same time I did. But, that tire could have been carrying a load, creating a dangerous situation. Improper inspection led to improper repair,” Garrett concluded.
Garrett, formerly involved in trucking and fleet operations, says he and his competitors see this sort of problem almost every day.
“A quick glance may show an obvious failure,” he says, ®but, an inspection must be more thorough to find any underlying problems. It’ll save everyone time, money and headaches.®
Garrett suggests a “hands-on” inspection of both the inside and outside of the tire. The naked eye alone can’t always detect everything that’s wrong with a tire. Careful liner inspection inside and out ®” often reveals that the tire isn’t even repairable at that shop. Naked eye inspection may not find potential zippers or signs a tire has run under-inflated.
Other signs of improper inspection encountered by Garrett are stones left in the treads. “I’ve seen repaired tires with stones still in their treads,” Garrett explains. ®A guy who’s used to repairing medium duty tires which run mainly in the city may not realize that a tire which has been running in the country may be full of stones,® he said. ®Stones not only damage the rubber; but, may actually cut into the radial wire.® This is especially prevalent in heavy lugged construction tires. In all cases, stones should be removed and the technician needs to look for tearing or bruising.
On the other hand, Garrett has also seen tires scrapped that could have been repaired. “Repairing is recycling. One way to lower costs and keep tires from filling our landfills is for repair shops not to fear bulges,” he said. ®The repair community seems uncomfortable in performing section repairs, and I’ve seen many tires reach an early grave when a section repair could add tens of thousands of miles of life to a damaged tire.®
One solution to the inspection problem is proper training. “Shops must realize their reputation is on the line,” Garrett points out. ®And it’s the dealer’s responsibility to help fleet customers manage their tire costs. With tires as the second biggest cost for a fleet, it makes sense to cut tire costs through proper training methods in repair and inspection.®
Training is available through many sources. ITRA, TANA, various tire manufacturers, wheel manufacturers and tire repair companies all provide various repair instruction for shops; yet, many times, these resources may be overlooked or flat-out ignored.
Rema’s Mobile Training Unit is a good example. It is a fully staffed and equipped classroom trailer designed to educate technicians on tire repair. Two units travel North America approximately 48 weeks a year, offering to come on-site to help train tire repair specialists.
Yet, even with this convenience, attendance can be sparse at times.
“I think shop owners must realize that sinking a few dollars into proper training will put more money in their pockets in the long run,” said Garrett. ®There are so many good resources available and those in charge of tire repair should take advantage of those opportunities.®
Garrett suggests that fleets which outsource tire repair would be wise to look beyond a beautiful shop facility and look on the walls for certificates of training. A better trained workforce is more likely to do a better job, saving the fleet time and money. And, it gives the shop one more key sales point with the fleet.
“If a fleet is relying on a dealer to help with tire costs, then that fleet should expect that dealer to have well-trained personnel,” he adds. ®And, if a fleet does their own tire repair, it presents an opportunity for the dealership to solidify its relationship by helping the fleet train its personnel,® he said. Training helps personnel pay attention to details, and that’s what tire inspection is all about.®′
What TBC does plan to do in terms of marketing are the simple things. First, will be to continue with trade advertising, a medium that delivers the TBC message to more than 20,000 dealers.
“In these ads, we extol the virtues of the TBC program and the reason we have become, and intend to stay, the number one private brand tire distributor,” said Pascover.
Secondly, the tire marketer will be focused on producing the latest advertising and merchandising materials to aid in selling. Some materials will include redesigned price sheets for each brand, artwork available on CD-ROM, credit card options and a website to carry the TBC message.
Other non-material items that could help a TBC dealer, include mileage warranties, a 30-day free test drive feature and a roadside assistance program.
Aside from discussing its marketing solutions, fill rates and customer service plans, the main message that TBC wanted to get across at its annual meeting was plain and simple: Yes, there is room for improvement and, that, while TBC has been successful in the past, the company can’t rest on its laurels. But there was another message that came out of Palm Desert: the days of the private brand tire are far from over.
“The private and associate brands bring to the market an entirely different selling and value proposition than the majors,” said Robins. ®In the marketplace, tire distributors, tire retailers and consumers have voted. They feel that private brands play an important role.
“Private brands fill their needs. Brand diversity is alive and well, despite the efforts of some manufacturers.”®′
“In March, we’ll be introducing the BFGoodrich Commercial T/A All-Season with an impressive set of performance credentials,” said Mathew Aaron, BFG’s brand manager. ®Our primary competition is Firestone’s Steeltex R4S, General’s Ameri*550 and the segment leader, the Goodyear Workhorse. Well, the Commercial T/A will deliver at least 15 percent more mileage than the Goodyear Workhorse.
“This April, we’ll introduce the latest member of the g-Force T/A family, the g-Force T/A KDWS. This line is the new ultra-high performance, all-weather tire designed to key on maximum traction in dry, wet and snow for high performance cars.”
It’s clear that MAST wants to continue the successes that showed themselves in 1999. And, in order to get that done, the company acknowledges it needs a healthy relationship with its dealers to make that happen. That’s why the theme for 2000 remains the same as last year: Driven 2 Win.®′