When I spoke with all the 2019 ATD/HDT/Procede Truck Dealer of the Year nominees I learned a lot about what they are doing to help fleets keep trucks on the road. Here are a few more insights from those far-reaching conversations:
Growing all-makes parts offerings
There has been a proliferation of all-makes parts programs from the truck makers.
Trey Mytty, president and CEO of Truck Center Companies and 2019 Truck Dealer of the Year, said the Alliance branded line offered by Freightliner now has more than 7,000 part numbers. “That’s a big deal, because I think originally we did not have the breadth of products that were needed by fleets.”
Terry Minor, president and CEO of Cumberland International Trucks and Truck Dealer of the Year finalist, said Navistar’s Fleet Rite all-makes parts program is “having a significant impact” on his parts sales and today accounts for 20% of his dealership’s parts business. “It’s an expectation of the fleet now, more so than before, that we offer all-makes parts.”
The all-makes program has been good for nominee Kim Mesfin, president of Affinity Truck Center. However, she noted, its success depends on participation by all dealers across a brand so customers will have parts availability wherever they go.
Nominee Harry Moyer, president of Lowe & Moyer Garage, said the all-makes parts programs are especially good for fleets that have trucks from multiple manufacturers, because all-makes parts can be used to service all the trucks in the fleet.
Dealing with aftertreatment issues
The biggest maintenance and repair headache for fleets and dealers alike revolves around aftertreatment systems. “Anything emissions-related has been a problem,” said nominee David Kriete, president and CEO of Kriete Group Inc. More specifically, the problems seem to be related to sensors.
“It is not uncommon, and it is a little bit unfortunate, that the brand-new trucks have lights come on in the dash and the vast majority are related to NOx sensors, heat sensors, or heating or cooling temperature gauge sensors,” he said.
The good news is that the problem is not as bad as it was. Nominee John Nichols, CEO of Palmer Trucks Inc., said things have improved since three or four years ago, when “things were pretty tough when it came to aftertreatment systems.”
Stepping up their e-commerce game
Nichols said his dealership has been in e-commerce “from the get-go.” He added, “We are pushing harder and harder to make the parts department more like a fulfillment center and making it easier for customers to get the parts they need to get their trucks worked on.”
Minor acknowledged that there are issues that need to be worked out between the manufacturers and the dealer network when it comes to e-commerce, but was quick to add, “It is part of the future and is something we will have to figure out because it presents a lot of opportunities.”
Mytty took a broader view. “Whether it be the giant Amazon or some other e-commerce piece, it is creating massive amounts of freight to be hauled. At the end of the day, I don’t see any negative for transportation from e-commerce.”
Many dealers are already heavily involved in e-commerce, and most of the others are making moves toward having an e-commerce option for their customers.