Current Issue
Published on February 16, 1998

WHEEL TRAINING NEEDED

Equipping and training technicians to properly mount and balance custom wheels ought to be a priority for all retail tire dealerships—whether they specialize in selling such products or not. Custom wheels are commonplace today and so costly to repair or replace that no dealership can afford to risk damaging them through mishandling in the shop.

Tire dealerships retail the majority of new aftermarket wheels, and even those that don't promote such sales still must deal with custom wheels while carrying out their tire service operations.

Turning away customers with expensive wheels is hardly an acceptable option for dealers worried about damaging them. The outlet would forfeit a lucrative tire sale.

For that reason, many dealers wisely have equipped their shops with tire changers and balancers designed to minimize the risk of damaging expensive wheels.

But unfortunately, few tire dealers have instituted training procedures for service employees whose care and capabilities are no less critical to those operations.

One reason is the difficulty dealers face in finding training for their employees. Most who offer such training have developed it through costly trial and error.

Manufacturers of custom wheels do a credible job of promoting their products to retail buyers. But few devote much effort to assuring buyer satisfaction by helping train the workers who install and service their products. It's time they did.

Some day, this training may be part of a program for certifying tire service workers now under consideration by the Tire Association of North America. If adopted, TANA's proposed program for passenger and light truck tire workers likely would be similar to the certification program for those who install and service commercial truck tires now available from the International Tire and Rubber Association.

However, any such program will need to be grounded in a set of industry-accepted rules and practices—something that presently doesn't exist.

Wheel makers have a responsibility—not to mention a marketing opportunity—to take the lead in efforts to develop that body of knowledge.

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