Now for the other half of the parts story – the OE dealers’ thoughts on why fleets should purchase their parts from them. We began this series with the premise of, "It’s choice, not chance, that can determine your (fleet’s) destiny," and now OE dealers wish to express their differentiators – in the spirit of helping you make smarter parts-buying decisions.
“Fleets should turn to dealers since they can provide a depth of product support and expertise developed from their investment in tooling, training, inventories and personnel,” said Kyle Treadway, Kenworth and current president of the American Truck Dealers.
“While the fleet specialist has the freedom to set up his business, OEMs require dealers to maintain certain standards. The dealer must meet minimum financial and operational requirements designed to ensure the customer a consistently high quality product and related service. This threshold provides end-users with assurance that the dealer has a vested interest in his reputation, market and brand,” noted Treadway.
“My customers know that if they have a problem in Portland, Maine, or Portland, Ore., they can rely on my fellow OE dealer for support and expertise. This safety net is enhanced by the emergency care systems most major OEMs have created to assist carriers after hours, during holidays, and/or in unfamiliar territory.”
Steve Ferriell, parts manager at Charlotte (N.C.) Truck Center, feels that dealers’ personnel has more experience than fleet specialists. “More fleets are showing their loyalty to dealers, especially with new technologies (engines) coming on, plus they know we give them a viable option. We are better stocked with inventory and very competitive on (parts) price and service.”
“The marketplace makes the decision on parts sourcing, and may the best supplier win,” emphasized Michele Calbi, vice president, Navistar Defense LLC, speaking at a recent point-counterpoint parts discussion with Marc Karon, Total Truck Parts, during HDAW 2011 in Las Vegas.
“OE dealers have access to every single brand, plus we have access to proprietary parts and information and repair codes,” Calbi added.
She specifically praised the Canada dealer network of one OEM, “which really knows how to network and benefit end-users of all sizes.”
One cautionary note she told the fleet specialist audience: “Represent parts for what they offer. If you use knockoff or counterfeit parts, tell the end-user (fleet). If rebuilt, say it; if reman, say it. Dealers or fleet specialists have to be responsible for their actions and make disclosure with the use of knockoffs.”
Treadway added, “our objective is not to sell the least expensive widget, but to help the customer manage his equipment needs, bumper to bumper. We’ll explain the pros and cons of different parts options, the return on investment and/or the impact on resale values.”
Veteran parts-service dealer Charles Taylor, at Peach State Freightliner, Norcross, Ga., suggested, “National fleets know the value of an OE quality part. We’re not the cheapest, but we stay competitive with the total value we offer.” To have “the right part at that right time,” Peach State built its own warehouse and purchases parts in truckloads to gain economies of scale.
“We’re able to take solutions to fleet customers, plus we employ higher-skilled mechanics, with as much as two to three years more experience (than a fleet specialist),” said Tom Clevinger, senior vice president/general manager of global parts, Navistar.
Clevinger noted his company’s strong program for national fleets. “They can buy from different dealers at the same price and consistency across the board is vital,” said Clevinger, adding that Navistar negotiates the prices and related activity, as well as relationships with the supplier vendors.
“Get the parts first, help them back on the road and generating money—that’s what we’re here for, ” underscored Navistar’s Calbi.
Pointing out added value, Treadway said dealers differentiate by “being a valued consultant and providing a perspective and expertise developed by helping many other customers.”
“Fill rate and delivery service are absolutely vital to vehicle uptime. It’s all that really matters—we must have the parts. That’s simply number one,” stressed Clevinger.
So we’re back where we started—it’s your choice on parts purchasing to keep your vehicles running efficiently and generating revenue.
Editor’s note: This is the second article in a two-part series on parts & service. Part 1: the Fleet Specialist appeared in the February 2011 issue.