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#MATS2014: Goodyear promises ‘no surprises’ in small fleet program

LOUISVILLE, Kentucky – A new program expected to launch next quarter promises to give the mega-fleet treatment to medium- and small-sized fleets.

LOUISVILLE, Kentucky – A new program expected to launch next quarter promises to give the mega-fleet treatment to medium- and small-sized fleets.

Already available to its US customers, the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company’s Smart Fleet program will offer set, nationwide pricing for tires, retreads, and services to any fleet that joins. The program will only include pricing for its premium tire lines, and not its Dunlop and Kelly brands.

Speaking to at the Mid-America Trucking Show (MATS) Jose Martinez, digital and solutions manager for Goodyear said the reason behind the free-to-join Smart Fleet is simple. It’s what the fleet managers want.

“We conducted some research with the smaller guys and they told us they want a program from Goodyear. We asked them what they would like and they answered, ‘we would like, first and foremost, that there are no surprises.’ So that became our slogan: No surprises,” he said.

“The second thing they told us is they want very reliable 24/7 service.”

Martinez said that’s something Goodyear can offer because it will rely on its own owner/operator businesses, and not third-party companies to provide the service, adding that currently when Smart Fleet receives a service call, the roll time (the time from when the call is received to the time when the truck is back and running) is, on average, two hours and eleven minutes, and “a lot less” than that if it’s in an urban location.

“We are working very hard to be below two hours, and right now we are testing some new technologies to be able to do that in less than two hours, that’s our goal.” Some of the new technologies include dispatch and real-time tracking applications.

He said one of the other features smaller fleets want from a program is to avoid paying the service charges that the big fleets don’t pay, like the $25 dispatch fee which Goodyear required the smaller fleets to pay.

“At the end of the day, what we do is we help them control the costs of their operations with a safety net. Everything is published. There is nothing that will take them by surprise, even if it’s on the road.”

Initially, Goodyear will roll out the program as a limited enrollment beta test, just to ensure that the changes that needed to be made to accommodate Canadian laws, taxes, regulations, and languages will work. Then, once the company is happy everything is running smoothly, it will open it up to the entire country.

Fleets will be able to sign-up online. Then within 10 days, they will receive a call from Goodyear staff to work out some of the service details, including picking the preferred dealer for service and who will be authorized to pay for service (head office, or drivers with credit cards). Once that process is completed, the fleet will receive membership cards for all its trucks.

Martinez says the company is working carefully to ensure that both customers and dealers will benefit from Smart Fleet.

“We want to continuously build a relationship with them. When they sign up with Goodyear Smart Fleet, they become customers of Goodyear, not of the dealer. So it’s a direct relationship with the manufacturer, and a lot of them want that.”

Martinez said there is a small price incentive for buying tires through the program when viewed against retail pricing, noting “it is comparable but it is a little bit better…but we made it so it was not a painful thing for the dealer to co-operate with the program, otherwise they wouldn’t do it.”

He emphasized that getting customers signed up with the program and buying tires is a win for Goodyear, is a win for the dealers, and it’s a win for the customers, customers which he said often misunderstood by the market.

“It’s surprising. There’s a misunderstanding that they smaller guy is going to buy the cheapest tires and that can’t be farther from the truth. If anybody is going to buy good tires, it is the owner/operator and the small guy. Part of that is they don’t use retreads. I mean the retread technology has advanced to the point it is very safe, but there is a misconception from the past, and these guys don’t let it go. So they are new tire buyers, and a large percentage of them buy premium tires—tier one Goodyear, Michelin or Bridgestone.”

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