Fleet sales could bring in more business than expeditor sales for many 12 volt retailers in the coming years, said Steve Witt of American Road Products during Spring KnowledgeFest earlier this month.
Fleet managers are starting to install the same products that many car audio shops sell–cameras, early crash warning devices and lane departure warning products.
In a margin-starved, post-Amazon world, fleet sales offer 50 percent or higher profits plus labor. So commercial vehicle and fleet sales could provide a solid future for aftermarket specialists over the next 5 to 7 years, said Witt.
Compare this to selling to car dealers where there’s more cars equipped with connectivity and safety from the factory each year, said Witt.
“The commercial market is booming with updating existing vehicle with new technology. This is a carbon copy of what we all witnessed in the mid-90s with entertainment…Commercial vehicles are a great opportunity for a specialty retailer to expand their business,” he claimed.
Fleet managers are under a lot of pressure to cut costs and that means reducing accidents and time lost due to injuries.
The average business cost of a fleet accident is $24,000, according to NHTSA, and if the crash results in an injury, the cost can increase to over $125,000. On top of that, 25 percent of a fleet is in some kind of crash or incident every year (including minor incidents), on average, said Witt.
Most fleet managers know very little about driver safety. And any retailer that is able to clearly explain the benefits of safety and telematics and why it’s important to the fleet manager’s bottom line, will win business.
“The numbers are compelling for any retailer. They just have to accept the change,” said Witt.
That means learning how to sell to fleet managers.
When approaching a fleet sale, you need to know what type of accidents they’ve had in the past. So you can ask the fleet manager for accident records, driver behavior records, insurance rating and premiums and the internal human resources policy. If they never have back over incidents, they may not want backup cameras, but if they tend to have minor fender benders, they may want connected DVRs or early crash warning devices such as those by Mobileye or VOXX.
“Usually the commercial customers or fleet manager will say, ‘well we have had an XYZ increase in accidents’ or ‘we have had more guys back into fire hydrants.’ Whatever it is. ‘We have more guys falsifying time cards.’ I’ve heard it all. In that qualification stage you are finding out exactly what their needs are, and if it’s accidents, the second part of the qualification is to ask for hard data, so you, the specialist, can match up the proper product to the customer’s specific needs,” said Witt.
If you are new to selling safety to fleets, the next step is to find the best product suppliers in each category and ask them to help you enter the market. You can go to them for questions on sales strategy, product training and installation training.
Then decide how you are going to go to market. You can reallocate floor space to demo driver safety products or assign a sales person to spend half his time on the phone and visiting local fleets to win business.
Lastly, Witt recommends, “Do what you say you are going to do, period. If you go out and start to pitch commercial vehicles or fleets, make sure you can actually do what you are promising, which includes installers working on dirty, nasty vehicles sometimes, and learning new skills, and using computer applications, whether it’s an installation app or software running on a computer or calibration.”
For more stories on sales of driver safety to fleets see 12V Retailers Cash in On FedEx Truck Deal