Goodyear's Truckwise commercial tire dealer marketing group wants to take on more of a role in a fleet's tire maintenance decisions in a bid to increase loyalty and consistency.
Donn Kramer, director of marketing for commercial tires, said the Truckwise program was founded in 1998 as a network of small and large tire dealers servicing and selling new tires as well as retreads. The dealerships and their vehicles were marked with the Truckwise name, and the dealers had to meet various standards on service and training, among others.
``The idea was to provide end users with a total product and service portfolio (and) secondly to provide consistency and performance across the country,'' he said.
Truckwise dealers now offer a mix of traditional service-selling a tire or specific service when the fleet seeks it-and a more interactive approach where tire dealers help fleets make those decisions. Mr. Kramer said expanding the latter will be a major focus for the program's future.
``More and more fleets...(want) to transfer the costs that they might have internally for managing their fleets to basically the distribution network,'' he said. ``Especially those where transportation is not their business, they would prefer to have someone else do the maintenance work.''
That role would mean dealers working closely with fleets to help make decisions on cost elimination and offering extensive reporting on the fleets' costs.
``That's the direction where Truckwise is evolving to in the future,'' Mr. Kramer said.
In addition to that effort, Mr. Kramer said Goodyear wants to ensure that its participating dealers adhere to the standards the Truckwise program outlines. Some of these include 24-hour service, a certain number of salespeople soliciting business, selling or producing Goodyear retreads, selling new Goodyear tires and participating in a specified number of training hours per outlet.
In fact, the program essentially is built around these requirements. Mr. Kramer said the program carries no annual fees, but dealers do face a minimum purchase requirement for retreads and new tires. The biggest piece is toeing the line to the standards.
``It's more around adherence to performance standards to keep the consistency level strong for our distribution,'' he added.
The Truckwise program now stands at about 500 outlets nationwide, roughly 350 of which are independent tire dealers. The remaining outlets are run by Goodyear's Wingfoot Commercial Systems L.L.C. subsidiary.
Mr. Kramer said any growth to the network would largely come from filling in geographic regions, such as in the corridor from Colorado through the Dakotas.
``We'd like to grow it a little bit, but it's not something (where) we would want to put another 500 outlets in the marketplace,'' he said.
The benefit for independent tire dealers in Truckwise, Mr. Kramer said, is the opportunity for locked-in customers for tire sales and related services. Roughly 35-45 percent of Truckwise customers are national accounts, he added.
``It's just giving (dealers) an opportunity to participate in more profit opportunities that exist during the lifecycle of the tire,'' he said.