BUFFALO, N.Y. — Joe Nocisia Jr. saw a need to streamline customer service operations at his family's Cleve-Hill Wholesale Tire Inc., so he developed a customized tire-order tracking system.
"We recently launched TireTracker, a live GPS-tracking feature for our B2B customers to view their open orders and delivery in real time," Mr. Nocisia, vice president of the Buffalo-based distributor, told Tire Business.
The TireTracker program ties into the company's delivery trucks' GPS units and allows customers to track the delivery trucks with their orders through a portal on Cleve-Hill's website.
"It is such a time-saver. The customers love it. The staff loves it. The dispatcher loves it, because he doesn't have to answer dozens of questions to the staff of when the tires might be (at the customer's location)," he said.
The company used to use a dry-erase board in the office to track delivery trucks and their stops, but the family realized the more volume it distributed, the more handwriting and tracking had to be applied to the board. Plus, the dry-erase board wasn't visible to the whole staff or the call center.
"There's no automation. It actually makes you busier," he said.
So he worked with a local computer programmer to develop his idea for a tire-tracking system the company could use with its current technology and hardware.
"Wouldn't it be great if I knew what orders were on those trucks?" he asked.
"That's something people miss a lot. They know a truck is going to a certain shop but they don't know exactly where that driver is. The problem is they don't know what is on that truck," he said.
"We'll have orders, especially in snow tire season, come 30, 40, 50 minutes apart. So when a customer calls and asks, 'Are my tires on that truck?,' it's a very generic question. Sure, but which tires? You've ordered 12 today. It didn't help that we're going to Bob's Auto, but Bob has multiple orders he may be referring to.
"So I thought, 'Wouldn't it be great if we could take all the open orders and our simple GPS we just track the trucks with, and marry the two together?' And now we can be very specific about what orders are on what truck," Mr. Nocisia said.
The TireTracker appears as a tab on Cleve-Hill's B2B website, so customers can check their delivery status without calling the office.
"They can see what we see," he said.
The program also gives customers a reason to visit the company website, and the staff is not bogged down answering questions, he said.
"We can accommodate more volume without burdening ourselves with more workload."
For the customers, knowing when a delivery will arrive helps them with their staff scheduling for vehicle service and lunch breaks, he noted.
"This allows managers and supervisors to really dial in the workload for the day."
Mr. Nocisia acknowledged that business management software already exists through established computer programming vendors, but he was able to develop a custom program for only around $1,200, much cheaper than a subscription with a major vendor.
"We have very basic GPS units in the trucks and, with the use of a Google Maps application and this programmer's hourly rate, we were able to do this at, I think, an unheard of low rate with no annual fees or anything.
"It was a one-time programmer. Sure, updates in the future will be required, but if it costs at that value to launch it, I'm sure the updates will be very minimal just to tweak it.
"I don't believe there is any software that could cross-reference our invoice numbers, which are completely internal. It would have to be something customized. So I think it worked out really well in our favor from a cost basis," Mr. Nocisia said.
"Over time we will have less call volume and more orders because of (the customers') ability to track their own tires and self-manage their day without needing to call us. And without us having to check with dispatch."