Smaller trucks, big opportunity
Unlike heavy-duty fleet customers, medium-duty customers typically are not in the trucking business. They own trucks because they have to — because they need to transport something else. The products in their trucks are their business, not the trucks themselves.
And while they need to keep their trucks on the road just like a national fleet, they are much less likely to have the parts and technicians to do that alone.
This makes them extremely reliant on the dealers, service providers and distributors in their area.
John Messina, president at Tampa Spring, says his company does a lot of business with medium-duty fleets operating 10 trucks or less. He says most of these customers understand maintenance is important, but they simply lack the ability to perform all of it on their own.
“They don’t have the same maintenance programs heavy-duty fleets have,” he says. “Their drivers might know to check the oil and maybe the tires before they drive, but that’s it. And they don’t have the [technicians] back at a garage to do that for them.”
“They are usually just smaller businesses or single owners — sometimes it’s just one guy,” adds Matt Thompson, vice president at Blue Hen Spring Works, Inc. He says even if these customers understand “they need to be proactive about maintenance; they still can’t do it all alone.”
That’s where the aftermarket comes in. Become a service provider they can trust and you may find yourself with a life-long customer, experts say.
“They definitely will be loyal,” says Messina. “Once a [medium-duty] customer trusts you and knows you’re looking out for his best interests he’ll stay loyal to you. And it’s not just a dollars and cents thing.”
He says medium-duty customers appreciate good value, but quality, honesty and consistency are just as important. “Price isn’t always number one.”