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Sleeper supremacy: A focus on the customer has led to more fleets spec’ing large, decked-out sleepers

Across the business world, companies are becoming more and more interested in emulating the success of Amazon. It’s a model that many truck OEMs are now following as they sharpen their focus on fleet customers, learn what equipment will meet the customers’ needs and deliver the products that they want.

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Managing Editor of Fleet Equipment Magazine

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Across the business world, companies are becoming more and more interested in emulating the success of Amazon. And who can blame them? Amazon is, after all, one of the biggest business success stories of the 21st century, leading to its owner becoming the richest person in the world. If that’s not a model to follow, I don’t know what is.

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Jeff Bezos, Amazon’s chief executive officer, has said that the “secret sauce” of his company’s success is a focus on the customer, not the competitor. The idea, in a nutshell, is that if you focus on delivering exactly what the customer wants and needs, regardless of what your competition is up to, success will follow.

It’s a model that many truck OEMs are now following as they sharpen their focus on fleet customers, learn what equipment will meet the customers’ needs and deliver the products that they want.

One example: In 2018, Peterbilt released the Model 579 UltraLoft, an 80-in. sleeper designed with drivers in mind. 

According to Wesley Slavin, Peterbilt’s on-highway marketing manager, Peterbilt knew it had to step up its sleeper game to fit in with the needs of increasingly driver-focused fleets.

“I think it’s clear that there was a need, at least from a Peterbilt customer standpoint, to have that kind of large sleeper that could support team drivers and also give a single driver some of the amenities that would enhance ride on the road.”

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The OEM solicited the opinions of 400 drivers in the design stage of the truck, and more than 100 drivers were brought in for prototype feedback. Now that it has been on the road for more than a year, Peterbilt says the UltraLoft has delivered on its expectations. Slavin describes Peterbilt’s percentage of sleepers in its heavy-duty sales as “much higher than I’ve seen in a long time.”

Slavin highlights the comfortable drivers’ lounges many larger fleets have set up as one clear example of how fleets are valuing driver amenities—and one that Peterbilt wanted to emulate in the truck.

“Fleets are going above and beyond to make sure that the drivers are comfortable not only on the road, but when they get back, they have these luxury lounges with TV, free internet, free coffee and shower facilities,” he says. “You look at those and you get a sense for how much effort they’re putting into maintaining their driver pool and recruiting new drivers.”

The last thing you want is your drivers hopping in your trucks and immediately wishing that they were back in the lounge. So maintaining that level of comfort level in the truck was important to Peterbilt. “To build a product that can facilitate that same mentality was a goal of ours,” Slavin says.

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It goes back to that idea of catering to your customers. If this is how fleets are treating their drivers, then it makes sense that OEMs should follow suit with their trucks.

And Slavin says this mentality has paid off for Peterbilt.  And Slavin says this mentality has paid off for Peterbilt. In the past, he shares, “we had several customers that were buying the discreet sleeper that expressed a lot of interest in an integral sleeper for their drivers, and they wanted that to be a Peterbilt product.” 

And once the UltraLoft came out? “They were lined up to take delivery of one.”

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