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Discount Tire talks meeting the local needs of light-duty fleets

Jason Morgan is the editor of Fleet Equipment. He has more than 14 years of B2B journalism experience covering the likes of trucking and construction equipment, real estate, movies and craft beer industries.

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Light-duty vehicles have seen a boost in operations during the pandemic. From last-mile delivery to contract service providers and the like, commercial vans and light-duty trucks are rolling large to meet essential business demands—and with that comes increased service needs.

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“What’s interesting, specifically with a model like Amazon, is it’s more of a franchise model that’s growing. I saw a picture recently in which one of our Discount Tire locations had a Prime vehicle in every one of those bays,” said Chris Adams, vice president of business-to-business, Discount Tire.

And that’s just one example of light-duty vehicle fleet applications that are growing. Specialized services and contract services also have to tackle fleet problems within their corral of light-duty vehicles all while performing their primary business. Tires are a top maintenance focus; ensuring that you have them serviced properly at a time that doesn’t disrupt your operations is paramount. In the case of Discount Tire, the lineup of more than 1,070 tire service locations is formalizing its fleet program.

“Tires and wheels can be as much as 20% cost of ownership,” said Mark Marrufo, vice president of fleet operations, Discount Tire. “We provide a free flat repair, free air checks, free tire rotation, free TPMS reset, and when you think about the costs associated with those services, it absolutely impacts the total cost of ownership.”

The Discount Tire executives noted that they have offered fleet services for the past several years, but the new initiative standardizes the program across its service locations nationwide. This includes:

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  • Partnerships with 14 of the largest fleet-management companies, including the likes of Enterprise Fleet Management, EMKAY, ARI, and Fleetio;
  • Service appointments and first-in-bay services from each location (when available) to get you in and out quickly;
  • Access to Treadwell – a proprietary online tire-buying guide that uses decades of data and experience to recommend the right tires based on driving habits, geography and other factors;
  • Use of the AutoIntegrate platform – quicker approvals means faster service for fleet customers, reducing downtime; and
  • Competitive pricing on tires and wheels based on the size of the fleet.

Local delivery fleets demand local service providers to meet their commercial needs. That means that the experiences they have with their personal vehicles influence the decisions they make for their commercial vehicles.

“Our folks have such a strong local and regional presence in the markets that they serve,” Adams said. “They’ve built relationships with those franchise owners in some cases, and we can be successful with that kind of local home-grown, grassroots effort. We are on the doorstep. I think that the service that many of those customers might’ve experienced from a business-to-consumer standpoint has made some of the conversations for our team a lot easier. We have been a trusted brand for 60 years and there are a lot of opportunities out there to support those fleet operators who need local attention.”

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Adams and Marrufo noted that the program will also grow to include dedicated account managers for local and regional fleets to handle service needs across a fleet with about five to 50 vehicles. They even hinted at expanding their services to stay ahead of the changing truck technology landscape, indicating that a network of 1,070 service locations would also make a compelling argument for investing in electric truck charging infrastructure.

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