Article written by John Hitch
Light-duty fleets are receiving a boost in TCO due to the large tire retailer’s digital fleet tools.
Discount Tire, the country’s largest tire and wheel retailer, is a 60-year-old company with more than 1,000 stores, but its fleet management program is only a few years old. Since 2018, the Scottsdale, Ariz.-based tire retailer has rapidly expanded to include partnerships with 14 of the largest fleet-management companies and has developed new digital tools to help light-duty fleets get the most out of their tires.
“Fleets really want to manage that total cost of ownership, and the tires and wheels can make up as much as 20% of it,” said Chris Adams, vice president of B2B for Discount Tire.
To assist fleets in keeping those costs down and utilization up, Discount Tire uses the AutoIntegrate platform.
“This is an electronic way to communicate, authorize and provide an audit trail for the authorization of the tires and for that business with the fleet management company to purchase,” Adams explained.
The quicker approval time reduces fleet vehicle downtime.
The proprietary Treadwell online buying tool is also fairly new, launched in 2018, but Mark Marrufo, vice president of Fleet Operations, noted it is powered by several years of customer tire data. The online tire guide uses the type of vehicle, driver behavior, location and road conditions and generates a report to help fleets find the optimal tire based on ride, tire life and cost, and stopping distance.
Discount Tire stated that it validates the tires they sell to ensure customers will receive the tire life and performance they expect.
“If a tire manufacturer says a tire is going to do X,Y and Z, we’re going to go and test those tires to make sure they do X, Y and Z,” Marrufo said. “And if they don’t do those things we’re going to tell you about that.”
Marrufo added certain variables can alter tire wear and affect calculations. One instance is buying a new light duty pickup and adding a tool box and loading it up with tools.
“All that additional weight causes more friction on a tire, which decreases the wear of a tire,” he said.
With the added emphasis on fleets and the additional data they have generated, Discount Tire stated it is able to more accurately predict how changes will impact the tires.
The three primary fleet segments are fleet management companies, such as Enterprise, Leaseplan, ARI and Fleetio, essential service fleets such as contractors, plumbers and HVAC providers, and the auto service businesses such as smaller dealerships and body shops.
Servicing medium-duty trucks, like a UPS box truck, is not possible now but may be “ a few years down the road,” Adams said.
Adams noted that fleets’ investment on tire preventive maintenance has returned after a lull due to the pandemic. While essential vehicles, such as for last-mile deliveries, have been a steady presence in the bays, salespeople have worked more from home and therefore put less wear on their vehicles’ tires. Discount Tires provides a touchless experience in its shops.