Commercial Vehicle Market : Step Outside Your Comfort Zone

Peter-James Gregory is President of Atlas Tire Wholesale Inc.

Commercial customers are a great revenue stream. Why not expand into this end of the tire market?

Within the tire retailer channel, there are retailers who are very focused on specific market segments. For example, some are specialists focused on the ultra high performance (UHP) and tuner segment, targeting the consumers who want to improve the performance and handling of their car with the ultimate UHP tire or with a “plus 1” or “plus 2” tire and wheel package. However, many tire retailers are “generalists.” They work hard to attract a variety of consumers, and they are prepared to service a wide range of consumer demand. Both the specialist and the generalist provide important services to the market. It is like a heart specialist and a GP — they are both doctors, and they are both required by the market.

Calling all generalists

In this column, I am reaching out to the “generalist tire retailer.” You are the tire retailer getting a wide spectrum of vehicles in your service bays – cars, minivans, light duty pick-up trucks (F-150 etc.), heavy duty pick-up trucks (F-250 / 350 etc.), commercial vans, trailers… you name it, and at some time, you have had a consumer looking for tires for it. Well, I am encouraging you, the “generalist tire retailer,” to pay attention to the commercial customers who come through your door and to others in your area that you can attract. Commercial customers can provide a great revenue stream based on the following:

• Many will have multiple vehicles; small fleet or large fleet.

• Their vehicles will do higher mileage than a passenger car, with higher loads and in more stressful conditions, all resulting in more rapid tire wear.

• Many of today’s pick-up trucks and commercial vans use larger tires. Those that use smaller tires, use very specialized smaller tires i.e. Nissan NV200 with Euro Commercial 185/60R15C 94/92T Load Range C or Ford Transit with Euro Commercial 235/65R16C 121/119R Load Range E

• Trailers: commercial trailers are mainly 2 axle 4 tire units, and they are getting more popular. The four points above all indicate the potential for higher tires sales and also higher value tire sales. The tires for many of these commercial vehicles have higher selling prices than the tires for the average car.

Equipped to handle commercial business

Now, if you are the “generalist tire retailer” who wants to grow your sales to commercial customers, you have to invest to earn the business. You have to be equipped to service commercial clients. Some critical points are below:

• Heavy duty hoists and floor jacks

• Heavy duty air guns and the right sockets

• Heavy duty torque wrenches

• The right collets and cones for your balancer (many commercial wheels have large centre bores)

• Commercial tire inventory – having inventory on hand is important as commercial clients need their vehicles on the road to earn money, and so they require quick service turn around. In this market, the retailer with the inventory wins.

Like anything else in life, if you want to succeed, you must prepare to succeed. There is great potential in the commercial pickup truck and van market, along with the trailer market. Get prepared, then make the potential a reality in your store..

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