April 2013, TruckingInfo.com - WebXclusive
3) Nationwide Partners
Outsourcing through a national provider gets you service anywhere in the country at a predetermined price.
If your service provider has a national presence, then you're covered anywhere you go. Not only can you negotiate nationwide service with consistent pricing, you may be able to get your vendor to visit off-site drop yards for trailer inspections. Talk about coverage.
Bill Guzick, vice president of business development for Michelin North Americas Truck Tires, says it's all possible.
"Dedicated fleet operations present an enormous opportunity," he says. "Trucks and trailers may not return to terminals for a long time. Michelin's Commercial Service Network can provide on-site tire maintenance at your customer's location, too."
On top of that, and depending on the vendor, fleets can have maintenance records and inspection documents compiled online so there's no outstanding or missing information. It's also possible to set up customized service manuals that outline the fleet’s specifications and requirements to both servicing dealers and the fleet’s terminals.
"Once the account is set up, the vendor has a record of the fleet's tire choice, and even inflation pressures." Guzick notes. "It's just like having your own people do the work."
And of course there's the assurance of consistency. Guzick says the service you get from network dealers through their technicians, professional equipment and casing management is subject to rigorous certification and audit standards. Try getting that from a roadside tire shop at 2 a.m.
4) Inventory Management
Carrying tire inventory costs money and space. Outsourcing is like just-in-time tire inventory. And you only pay for a tire when you use it.
Inventory is always a challenge, and more so in a mixed fleet. You need to keep a few tires in stock for emergencies, but how many and what type? How much are you paying to have those tire stacked on the corner of the shop? With an outside service provider, you don't pay for a tire until you need it.
"That reduces overhead," Guzick points out, "and gives you better ROI on the outsourcing program. It doesn't pay for it, but every bit helps."
Pick up and delivery schedules arranged with the vendor can be like a just-in-time tire inventory. "It's hard to predict when you'll have a failure, but you can build in a cushion for some spares," Clouser says.
5) Access to Experts
It's hard enough to find good technicians these days without frightening off the prospects with tire work. Nor are you likely to find expert tire technicians roaming the streets. When you contract your tire needs to a vendor, you get access to their experts – folks who can tell what's happened to a tire just by looking at it.
"The vendors know fleets are watching them," says Clouser. "I always do regular inspections of my vendors so they have a stake in keeping good people and managing their operation properly to their customers' standards."
There's the added benefit of knowing the work is done properly, and you, as the customer, have recourse, unlike having your own people do the work -- where all you have is liability.
"If an in-house repair fails, you have no warranty recourse. You eat the cost. You have warranty on work done by the tire vendor," Clouser notes. "Tire vendors do this work every day of the week. They are professionals. In-house people might do tires one day and change oil the next. Plus, the vendors are supported by manufacturers."
So what does all the convenience cost? Michelin's Guzick calls it a value proposition.
"It's hard to find cost savings in a process like this because regardless of who is doing the work, the costs won't be that different," he says. "The value lies in relieving the fleet of that one challenge and leaving more resources to focus on the operation."
But there is something to be said for not having to answer the driver calls at 2 a.m., and you'll get a price you can count on from a trusted vendor. That might even save enough money for a nice dinner at a decent restaurant.